Despite the ominous signs that were coming out of China late in 2019 the entire world now seems taken unawares by the novel virus (Coronavirus) that is currently ravaging the entire planet as we know it. There is no cure as we have been told, there is no remedy and all that the medical science could offer is for everyone to retreat into their respective holes and stay quarantined in place until this pandemic subsides.
Having been holed up in my house for about a month now, I cannot help myself but begin to re-evaluate things, my priorities, and honestly my engrained beliefs. Things have changed and I do not believe that they could revert to the status that things were prior to the advent of coronavirus.
And so it is that for more than a month now, most people all over the world have retreated into their homes, barricaded their doors, and nervously hid from an enemy that no one can see without a laboratory microscope.
What exactly is this virus? Why is this virus so deadly and why is it taking so many lives? Most importantly how could this virus defy the so-called world powers with their technologies, science, and advanced medical capabilities? The world has always contended with countries that claim to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and even in some cases claim to be the very next thing after God himself. The question now remains, what is happening here? Why are there no answers?
Covid-19 appears to have even targeted the so-called advanced Countries and superpowers even more viciously. When we watch as heads of governments and people in high places get humbled by this pandemic, it dawns on us all that Covid-19 is an equal-opportunity abuser. The virus does not care about who is a great power on this Earth and who is a minor power. We are all equally vulnerable. Everyone who survives this pandemic will do so, having acquired personal perspectives and lessons that must be unique to such an individual.
Nobody or any entity on this planet can claim any superior powers on this Earth when an organism such as this virus could strike this kind of fear on mankind.
One lesson is clear: nobody or any entity on this planet can claim any superior powers on this Earth when an organism such as this virus could strike this kind of fear on mankind. In fact, I am reminded of the story my mother used to tell me as a child growing up.
I am not exactly a Mama’s Boy, but I used to enjoy keeping company with my mother in the evening while she was preparing the family dinner. That’s how I learned how to prepare bitter leaf soup. The highlight for me used to be the time she adds “ogiri” to the soup because that addition signals that the soup will be ready for consumption in fifteen minutes or less. The next thing will be to give me a bit of the soup in the ladle to confirm that the salt is adequate. Then, it will be dinner time and after dinner, we, the children will gather by a dim light to listen to mom tell us folklores. I still vividly remember a story that our mom told us that resonates with me even today…..
The Lion, after a heavy meal and full stomach one day, roared and boasted to be the most powerful being on the planet Earth. Later he became drowsy and fell asleep. The soldier ants who heard the lion’s boasts promptly set upon him as he lay sleeping. They embedded themselves deep into his furs and began to bite him mercilessly. He woke up, roared, and scratched and bellowed to no avail. The more he scratched, the more he drew blood, his own blood. Finally, he realized that his boasts may be responsible for his ordeal. He started crying that he is not the most powerful force on earth after all and started begging whatever that was tormenting him to have mercy. Eventually, the ants showed pity and stopped eating him alive.
Is there a lesson for mankind to learn from Covid-19? Maybe the US of A, China, Italy, Britain, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and so on should reconsider their priorities after this pandemic. What has come into stark relief is that the possession of a nuclear bomb may not provide needed safety and survival for any country or people. Something much more “insignificant” maybe what we all must worry about.
Ordering businesses to re-open like turning on a light switch may seem a very tall order indeed. Reopening a business enterprise does not necessarily translate into people lining up to patronize the said business. An Igbo adage states that “Madu anaghi anu usi Mmuo ghebe onu ya oghe” (No one smells the whiff of death and keeps his/her mouth wide open)
The mantra now is re-starting the economy. Ordering businesses to re-open like turning on a light switch may seem a very tall order indeed. Reopening a business enterprise does not necessarily translate into people lining up to patronize the said business. An Igbo adage states that “Madu anaghi anu usi Mmuo ghebe onu ya oghe” (No one smells the whiff of death and keeps his/her mouth wide open)
Anyone who has not fallen victim to this pandemic or know someone who has done so should be grateful to his/her maker, remembering that “eburu ozu onye ozo odi ka ebu ukwu nku” (When another person’s corpse is being carried along some may be deceived into thinking that a cord of wood is being carried along). So many people have died in so short a time all over the world and this must give all of us pause. The world has collectively walked very close to the edge of darkness, taken a very long calculated look, and does not like or appreciate what is starring the world in the face.
Is there a higher force that reminds us, humans, about our mortality and humanity?
All the noise about eating bats ring hollow because my guess is that the Chinese and indeed people from other countries have been eating bats for a very long time. I do not also think that pointing fingers at this point is helpful. Humans do not control their destiny in this world as many would like us to believe. Is there a higher force that reminds us, humans, about our mortality and humanity? This may be a topic for the future. Suffice it to say that right now, mankind is starring a tragedy in the face. Tragedy is a horrible concept that merits a closer look, examination, and comments.
Some wise men have assumed that we must know what tragedy does before we can tell what it is. I submit that we cannot fully discuss the means until we are clear of the ends. It is true that the usual or scientific way is to define natures by effects, which are observable. Basic to tragedies is its recognition of the inevitability of paradox, of unresolved tensions and ambiguities of opposites in precarious balance.
Like the arch, a tragedy never rests, or never comes to rest with all losses restored and sorrows ended. Problems created by a tragedy may be put and pressed, but not resolved. An occasional “happy ending does not mean a full resolution”. Tragedy makes certain distinguishable and characteristic affirmations as well as denials about (A) The Cosmos and man’s relation to it and (B) The nature of the individual and his relation to himself, and (C) The individual in society.
Coronavirus has shown us that tragedy is primarily humanistic. Its focus is an event in this world; it is uncommitted as to questions of ultimate destiny and it is nonreligious in its attitude toward revelation. Tragedy speaks, however vaguely or variously, of order that transcends time, space and matter. To be sure, the characteristic locale of tragedy is not empyrean.
Indeed, in Coronavirus, the world is currently starring into the edge of darkness but has not stepped into the abyss –not yet.
Tragedy in effect assumes man’s connection with some supersensory or supernatural or metaphysical being or principle, whether you call it Ogwugwu or Job’s Jehovah or the Christian God. I further submit that tragedy discerns a principle of goodness that coexists with the evil. Indeed, in Coronavirus, the world is currently starring into the edge of darkness but has not stepped into the abyss –not yet.
♦ Isi-Ichie Chi E. Onwuchekwe, P.E., a professional engineer, consultant, is former Chairman, World Igbo Congress
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