Afew years ago, January 2020 the world was hit by a global pandemic — covid-19. While in the familiar family of the corona viruses, this one was unique and more severe than the previous SARS, we had experienced. In fact, some experts described it as ‘a combination of HIV and SARS’ because it attacked both the lungs and the immune system. That time we didn’t have the vaccine yet, and no one was even sure when, or rather if we were going to get it. I was walking from work with colleagues when one said, “this is not the apocalypse I was expecting.” “It’s the one we deserve,” exclaimed the other. We all laughed it off and went to grab a drink, and we talked about religion. Yes, it was that scary we all realised we needed a Saviour.
It wasn’t so much the virus that made it complicated, rather our unpreparedness for it. Some world leaders claimed to have it in control, until they realised they didn’t, maybe a little too late. And that was the first time I’d heard of African countries closing their borders to the US and Europe. Who would have thought. Also, the US-Canada border was only open for ‘essential travel,’ whatever that meant. Italy was on lock-down. Ontario and few other provinces joined in. Schools and daycare centers closed for at least 3 weeks. It united parents to their kids in a way that made them appreciate teachers more.
Idris Alba tested positive. The Canadian Prime Minister’s wife tested positive. They both later recovered fully. The world introduced social distancing, a concept meant to ‘flatten the curve’ and that was the first time many of us were actually learning about this. It was easy to judge leaders. Yet no one had actually been a leader in a global pandemic crisis before. Everyone seemed to be trying. The NBA, NFL, and many other sporting events or gatherings of over 100 and in some cases 50, were cancelled. Late night show hosts did their evening shows without an audience. Churches closed. Some countries introduced ‘quarantine stamps’ on the hand to force those who tested positive to stay home. The US stock market circuit breakers were triggered at least three times in March 2020. They had only ever been triggered at least once in 1997 before since they had been introduced after Black Monday in 1987. And for German Big brother show, no news wasn’t good news anymore. They had to tell them after weeks spent in isolation.
It wasn’t before long that covid-19 was trending. What better opportunity to ride on the wave. Marketing campaigns were created. Blog posts were written. Some even created Medium accounts just to ride on wave and start their writing career (no names). Every CEO wrote a ‘We care’ letter. I received emails from on-line services which I didn’t even know I had, telling me what they are doing in the crisis. I unsubscribed to most.
It was bad. Bare in mind that was long before this Global Fund for Pandemic Preparedness was birthed. That was before every world leader was on board with environment consciousness and fighting climate change. That was before the mental health conversation was a no-brainer, even in the minority communities. Well, we used to call them minorities. A lot was happening but in all, it reminded us we may be the smartest species around but we don’t have it all figured out. We may have sent men to the moon, now to Mars, or we may have built 5G that works even in our most remote hyper-tubes, but we still don’t have complete control of our destiny. We knew we had been humbled when a whole US government declared a national emergency and then a national day of prayer immediately after. A clear admission of the reality and for the need for divine intervention …