Living in the Time of a Viral Pandemic

by Fernando Perfas

When a catastrophe of global scale hits, it is man’s nature to search for its implications, to find meaning and make sense of the event. For many, this viral pandemic has caused anxiety over the political, social, and economic fallout. It brings governments of whatever stripe to their knees. Whatever color in the racial rainbow or economic caste one belongs, the virus does not discriminate. The more mundane worries are overwhelming and some cope by retreating to trivialities, to the comfort of hoarding toiletries or hand sanitizers, for example. I wonder what Dr. Freud would have thought of that.

“It is Nature asserting itself reminding us that something amiss has gone too far, bringing our world to the brink of extinction. Nature is intervening to restore balance.”

What if we read a different meaning to this pandemic, its intangible message? It is Nature asserting itself reminding us that something amiss has gone too far, bringing our world to the brink of extinction. Nature is intervening to restore balance. What governments, policymakers, scientists, military establishments have been arguing about but fail to achieve, the virus has done in a flash. The tiny microbe has a mind of its own that leaves scientists and experts baffled. While mankind’s response is chaotic, the virus is systematic in wreaking havoc on helpless individuals, the aged, who most world leaders and the powerful are, and to the rich and affluent countries.

Nature seems heartless from human perspective, but let’s not forget that it is amoral and operates not in the realm of limited human values. It does not respect our pettiness. It will do its job and people will suffer and die. When one sustains a sprained ankle, the gait gets wobbly and the remedy to restore it is often painful. Our world has become wobbly and before it spins out of control, something catastrophic has to happen to wake us up to the reality that we are all interconnected and responsible for where our actions have taken us. The virus arose with the agency of man, not some curse sent by the gods.

“Our world has become wobbly and before it spins out of control, something catastrophic has to happen to wake us up to the reality that we are all interconnected and responsible for where our actions have taken us.”

The virus is grounding the churning world to a halt. The lockdowns give mankind pause, forcing us to examine the status quo from the individual level to the halls of great power and the heart of the economic markets. It is forcing us to see clearly and accept what has been obvious: people are interconnected, humanity is one. In no other time in human history are we brought to a reckoning that an action of one ripples to the rest physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Nature is reminding us that we have to treat our fellowmen with love and compassion like we treat our immediate family, for without such paradigm change in our attitude, we cannot bring this world to a higher level of humanity.

“Nature is reminding us that we have to treat our fellowmen with love and compassion like we treat our immediate family, for without such paradigm change in our attitude, we cannot bring this world to a higher level of humanity.”

What man has rendered asunder, Nature has taken over. The halt in what we call “productive activity” has cleared the skies from Beijing to Manila and brought new life to the canals of Venice and the rivers and oceans of the world. A stark reminder that started with wildfires in the Americas and Australia that we urgently need to act to restore balance on Earth, otherwise the next cataclysm would be of water and fire, more instantaneous and many times more deadly.

As terrible as its final outcome, the viral pandemic is ushering the dawn of a new human awareness.

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