Not that we need more commentary on COVID-19 aka the Coronavirus, here's mine.
I'm allowed to be aware during something that is labeled a pandemic. And so are you. But being aware does not equal panic mode. Cautious? Sure. But not fearful of our lives. When moments like this happen, it seems we go from 0 to 100+ in a matter of milliseconds. And the first time we see someone else panic, our mind goes to, "what-if?", even if only for second. Panic, begets more panic. And panic leads us to the world of worrying. A world that ever entices us to believe that things will spin out of control and never be normal again.
As of writing this, there are over 140,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 5,000 deaths, in 135 different areas, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While it may not be at the numbers of other sicknesses or diseases, those are still numbers to be aware of. Especially as they continue to grow. Again, cautious and aware.
I get that there are lots of implications with "social distancing" and shutting down of schools and businesses. Kids are losing a place where they may get their only meals of the day. Single moms are losing work hours they may not be able to make up. Working parents, who may still have to work, have nowhere for their kids to go - and maybe no vacation or sick time left to take to stay at home. We don't want to be forced to stay inside our homes, save only for walks around the neighborhood. We don't want to do elbow touches or feet taps. It all seems really silly and like an overreaction. And it can be, until it's not.
When you don't know whether the person that used the buggy at the grocery store before you sneezed on the handle or if the person coughing behind you at the pharmacy has seasonal allergies or coronavirus, I get it, it all seems a little too much. How about the friend you had dinner with that seems perfectly healthy, but was around an unknowingly contagious person only hours before? She starts feeling bad, gets tested, and is positive. Putting yourself and everyone else she was around in the coronavirus bubble. Social distancing doesn't sound too bad then, does it? It's not about punishment or dictating, it's about slowing down a sickness that has killed over 5,000 people. Men, women, parents, grandparents, daughters, and sons.
I can't help but think about those people, some who maybe two weeks ago, felt the best they ever had. Only to come into contact with someone who was around someone else that was contagious and got deathly ill. Leaving this world. While it's true that we may never know someone who gets coronavirus, and we pray it stays that way, the circle is getting smaller. You know someone who knows someone that is in quarantine right now. Not on the beach quarantine, like it's a vacay. But stuck in their house. For 14 days. Some completely alone.
We can laugh at the memes that cloud social media and joke that us introverts have been preparing for this our whole lives, I know I have. But, then there is reality. Deaths doubling by the day. And I stop to think, what is my part in this? What can I do? Be aware.
I can wash my hands, stay a considerate distance away from people in public, cover my mouth when I sneeze (I've been doing it a lot lately, thanks allergies!), and pay attention to myself. Shouldn't we do all these things out of normalcy and consideration for others anyways? I would hope so. But now, we simply need to be more aware of doing it.
Do I have all the answers? Nope. Does anyone at this point? No. When a pandemic spreads and panic ensues, it's hard to slow it down - both the pandemic and the panic, or else they wouldn't be called what they are or spread as they do. Will we look back on all of this and say we were overreacting? I think the families of those 5,000+ people would say differently. COVID-19 could also be a new reality for us, just as flu. And if that be the case, may the day come quick where we have ways to better catch and treat it.
But also, may the day come quick when we no longer have to worry of sickness or death. Or of kids not being able to get meals and moms not being able to work. My job and yours now, is to be aware, but God has a part too. Saving and sustaining us, even in sickness and uncertainty. And because I know of what eternity holds, that also allows me to be aware but not panicked. Aware of sickness and death, yes, but also aware that this is not my home. My body is but a shell for my spirit - which will remain when my body does not.
C.S. Lewis wittingly, but truthfully wrote, during the atomic age, words that are still true for us today, with the coronavirus and any other threat of mankind:
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
Death is a certainty, as much as we try to ignore it with panic, or hoarding of supplies. But we cannot ignore it. May some of the sensible and human things we be found doing include: being aware, of ourselves and others, and remembering that eternity awaits us, for ourselves and others.
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