Coronavirus : A Curse or a Blessing?
At the moment it feels as if the whole world is holding its breath, waiting to see how the coronavirus pandemic plays out, and hoping like mad that all the forecasts of a grim conclusion are wrong.
Sometimes, just focusing on business and income generation feels unworthy, and this is one of those times. To this end, my blog post today is pensive, and reflects the nation’s mood.
Firstly, I’d like to share with you this beautiful poem, born out of the current crisis …
We are barely into the first stages of this catastrophe with corona-virus, yet already we’ve witnessed the very best, and sadly the worst, of human nature.
I’m naturally an optimist, so I’m confident that the altruism we’ve all seen on the news reports recently will prevail and the mean-spirited amongst us will find themselves humiliatingly in the minority.
A Sobering Tale
To illustrate the latter, my husband came home from a trip to the local supermarket looking rather, if not shocked (he’s been a teacher for 36 years for heaven’s sake – it takes quite a lot to shock him) then definitely grim-faced.
A very selfish man had been filling his trolley with every last nugget of rice and pasta on the shelf, whilst an elderly lady stood disconsolately by, holding a virtually empty basket.
As he made to trundle off she timidly asked if she could perhaps relieve him of one of the packets of rice, as he had so many and she had none.
Not content with just an outraged “NO WAY, LADY” at her audacity, he also felt the occasion required him to embellish it with a fountain of abuse and profanity.
Realising suddenly that he had an audience (my husband – ex-rugby player with stature to match) the guy hurried off, presumably to offend some more shoppers.
I hope he enjoyed his ill-gotten grub… although a teeny part of me also hopes he choked on a twirl of pasta.
A Heartening Tale
Thankfully, the stories of compassion and selflessness far outweigh such woeful tales of meanness. Here in the UK, people are gathering in myriad support groups to offer help to the elderly and the isolated, in whatever way they can.
I was just at the vet this morning, collecting some meds for one of my dogs, and there was a poster on the wall with information about a support group of local people who will help with anyone’s animals: taking them to the vet, collecting meds, walking dogs, etc.
Every evening on the news there are heartening tales of ordinary people stepping into the breach in this time of crisis: checking on elderly neighbours, setting up food stations where parents whose children would normally eat at school for free can go to collect a freshly-cooked meal for them, or just being a friendly ear on the end of a phone to anyone struggling with the overwhelm of isolation.
Whole communities of people whose lives, in the normal course of their busy self-absorption, don’t really encompass anyone outside their immediate circle of family and friends, are suddenly coming together and caring for each other. It’s a wonderful thing.
And, of course, our selfless medics, who don’t see themselves as extraordinary but are definitely heroes in my eyes.
I’m sure the same is true in every other country, too. In a world that is riven by strife of one sort or another for much of the time, such tales of basic kindness make me want to weep.
Perhaps all is not lost for us – for humanity – after all. Perhaps we’ll emerge from this catastrophe chastened, wiser, less self-centred, more benevolent and more forgiving.
I am, as I said, an optimist.
Footnote: I came across this article written by a top epidemiologist last week, which is well worth a read. It explains very succinctly WHY we should all be heeding the instructions to stay at home and self-isolate. If you are struggling to grasp the enormity of our current health crisis then I can’t recommend it highly enough.
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