Following on from last week’s post which questioned how we should understand the Scripture in which God asserts that creation is ‘good,’ (Genesis 1v31) we begin today with the first in a series of posts that examines the mixed blessings of the world we live in which Creation can both preserve and take life. So let us begin with the common cold.
At University 34 years ago (- can it really be that long?) I did a module on ‘Colonialism and Imperialism.’ The module was interesting for many reasons but mainly because of its insight into ideas that I had not encountered before. However, it was the description of what happened to the indigenous Maori population of New Zealand that both compelled and horrified me in equal measure.
Protected from the outside world for hundreds of years, no-one could not have conceived what would happen to the Maoris with the arrival of settlers from Great Britain and Europe. Unlike their northern hemisphere counterparts who had developing immunity to the common cold (through a succession of viral resistance passed on to them through parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc) , the indigenous New Zealand population had no such resistance when exposed to it.
As a consequence, a vast number of Maoris died in the first few years through exposure to viruses such as the common cold, influenza, chicken pox, etc as well as venereal disease and alcoholism. Why? Because they had never encountered these before and their bodies had not developed immunity and resistance. This was most pronounced in the young and those in their twilight years.
As I write this post, the world is experiencing a pandemic of ‘Coronavirus’. As the infection rate is incredibly high and dangerous for the elderly and those with underlying health issues, the risk of death is incredibly high. Indeed, thousands of people have already died from it and it is not too hard to see how this parallels with the Maori experience of coming up against something for which they were unprepared. Ourselves too with this lastest strain of bird flu – the only difference being that we with thousands of year of being exposed to these ailments will have a better chance of combatting such a viral strain than those who have not.
So, what does this mean in terms of a world that is red in tooth and claw? A world where some people catch a cold and die while others, get a fever and survive? All of which begs the question: is our exposure to a virus and overcoming it a good thing? After all, it presents us as being wonderfully made with a complex system of antibodies that fight on our behalf. It’s good for life BUT a harm-free world it is not!