As I write this, the whole world is in lockdown with the pandemic of coronavirus as it runs rampant through communities, killing some and sparing others. The speed with which the virus infects people without most knowing who or where they got it from is only surpassed by the bereaved families who out of the necessity to apply social distancing between themselves and the infected, have also had to suffer the inability to say an adequate goodbye to their loved ones.
Years ago – while doing my theological training – I remember a session in which the lecturer got us to think about the world in which we live and our interconectedness with the other entities with whom we share this world (whether we like it or not). Things like mammals, reptiles, insects, fish, birds (that initially carried the coronavirus which later transferred to humans) but also viruses and bacteria which can be good and bad to humans.
Prior to writing this post, I began today by drinking some live active cultures that are good for me – yet, going out to the shops to buy groceries, I took every precaution not to contract coronavirus. Now, in the same way that one human (Gandhi) can make a huge contribution to humanity and another (Hitler) can bring destruction, death and wanton carnage, so too can viruses! We saw this in last week’s post where the Maori population of New Zealand learnt the hard way through death that they had no resistence to the common cold which barely troubled the European settlers who had brought it with them and infected thousands.
Q) How and why did this happen?
A) Because the Maori population in the 18thC had not encountered the advanced stage of cold and influenza in the same way their European counterparts had with the result that the Maori’s did not have an immune system with antibodies that were sufficiently developed to ward off this encounter – more here
(Now, if you haven’t read the opening blog which makes the case that although God made the world ‘good’ (Genesis 1v31) for sustaining life, it is not harm free. Find out more by clicking here)
Okay, back to the college seminar and the presentation in which the lecturer explained how human ‘determinism’ is impacted by the world in which other life forms exist, inhabit and seek to continue. A virus – like humans – multiplies in order to survive. In the same way that human’s seek to produce progeny to populate future generations, so too the virus seeks to grow in the hope that it will not be entirely eradicated when encountering an antibody. In short, humans share a world with other living things that is finely-tuned. Tighten up the structure of the world too much (e.g. Gravity) and the constituent parts cannot function. However, loosen whatever constraints impact humans and it will also mean that these restrictions are removed from viruses, diseases and bacteria also.
In short, the reason why we are currently experiencing a pandemic owes as much to our global economy and human connectedness in which people are free to travel from one end of the world to another in hours, taking with them a virus if contracted. Now, if the plane was yet to be invented, the impact of coroavirus would have been limited to the country it originated in and its neighbouring regions. That said, a choice faces all of us as humans. Would we give up air travel and/or take a 3 month trip to New Zealand by boat OR are we prepared to stay in our state of interconnectedness even at the risk that another pandemic may occur further down the line?