A few months ago, life was what many of us would say “normal”. However, this normal has changed and the new normal has taken charge of the world. What we called ‘normal’ was people going about their businesses, selling and buying even things that are not supposed to be merchandized such as the case we had in Kenya recently, where some cartels had invaded the blood drive programme and were selling free donated blood to the patients at exorbitant prices.
It was the normal where people refused to slow down for their fellow humans, who they had left behind in development. Countries who competed to make profit at the expense of other countries. We had started also hearing slogans like ‘out country first’ in different parts of the world.
The world had become a small village. People could move easily from one pole of the globe to another in a matter of hours. The world had become noisier and noisier. Schools had become places of competition instead of learning.
In terms of faith, many prophets had emerged with all manner of goodies to their followers. The business of buying and selling miracles had reached its peak. May be it was about to be registered in the stock market. “The economy” became the most important thing in life. Religious institutions had become business entities. In many religious leaders meetings, the topmost agenda had constantly become investment and investment.
People were busy. Everyone was busy with something. Life had become very fast. Days seemed to go very fast. It had reached to a point where silence and contemplation were being regarded as criminal offenses. We had started getting used to the ‘normal’ of ‘rush hour’.
The climate has been changing from bad to worse for some decades now. Some voices of reason had started warning us about the consequences but the ‘economist’ who, unfortunately, dictates how things should go, would not listen to them. Some world leaders had already pulled out from protocols advanced to curb the climate change.
Mother Nature had begun to reinstall her equilibrium because she was feeling chocked by human activities. Floods, bush fires, proverbial insects such as locust had started becoming part of the ‘normal’.
Then the COVID-19. This came unannounced and has caught everyone by surprise even though there are still pocket of communities that are in self-denial. They think it is not going to reach us. The virus has disrupted every ‘normal’ and planted its own normal that of: stay at home, distance yourself from others, don’t go to places of worship, have manners when you cough or sneeze, wash hands regularly, care for others, do not go out unless it is necessary – in short – be moderate in all you do and you will be well. What we had regarded as civilization has been put to test.
Is not this what nature has taught us since the beginning of creation. That things need to be regulated and the equilibrium guarded? I mean, even the people of Israel when in the desert, they were taught how not to amass more than they need: ‘And Moses said to them, “let no one leave any of it behind until morning.” And they did not listen to him, but they left some behind until morning and it began to swarm with worms, and it putrefied” Ex 16:19-20.
However, this Corona Virus is not something anyone would desire to befall another person or community no matter how cruel the latter may be. I think there are many things we can learn from this as we continue to curb its spread.
We need to appreciate that those who are fighting for their dear lives in hospitals and those who have died out of the virus are not guiltier of the human greed, than those of us who are still not yet infected or affected. All of us should start amending our lives as we continue to fight this epidemic. Let us care more about each other and most of all for our world, our mother nature. The magnitude of the epidemic is different in different parts of the world but this does not mean that those in those parts which are grievously hit by the virus are to blame for anything than the rest. Some other parts have yet to experience the stress of the virus. These too should not think that they have been spared yet or that they are more smart. Indeed this is a favourable window of opportunity to strategize in order not to be caught by surprise.
Let us all pray more, care more about nature and our fellow human beings, maintain social discipline and above all wash out hands.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD[