‘No one would have believed…..’ Richard Burton voice is heard on Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the World’ musical that I used to play on the 8 track in my Hornet American Motors car, whenever I took my kids out for a drive. Yes, no-one would have believed that 2 years after the first occurrence of Covid-19 (SARS-COV-2) (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) in Ontario we would still be dealing with this terrible scourge that has affected everyone in the world today.
January 25th, 2020 was the recorded date (I noted) here in Ontario but already we had heard of it appearing in China, Europe and other parts of the world with devastating news. People dying everywhere. A Pandemic!
How did it start? There is much controversy about that and that is where all the misinformation, suspicions and conspiracy theories start. No one has been able to put these ideas to rest and many are still mesmerised by inflated tales and false news since the beginning. We have seen people who have denied the reports of sickness and death among those who have been affected as hoax and manipulations of the news media. No matter how many deaths we see reported (and also hear first-hand) among our friends and relatives, many are stubbornly resisting the evidence before their very eyes.
When the news broke out my choir practices were stopped (we have not yet restarted) church services were stopped, stores, restaurant, places of recreation, events and gathering were all forbidden. Governments locally and nationally issued health warning and asked us to follow policies that would minimize contact spreading. Signs appeared: practice the 6 ft rules; social distancing became a new word; classrooms were closed and students and teachers were thrown into a new media world of ‘zoom’ education. Businesses, especially the small entrepreneurs were heavily hit by mandated closures. People, especially service-industry workers, were laid-off from their jobs and had no income. We were on (that dreaded word) LOCKDOWN!
Your doctor would curtail office visits and you could talk about your illness symptoms over the phone or you went straight to the ER which was filling up with especially the vulnerable Seniors from Nursing Homes and Retirement centres rushing the medical doctors and nurses off their feet, taking up sparce IC beds, to save as many as possible from the dreaded Covid-19 virus that would plug up their lungs and slowly squeezed the breath out of them. Pictures on TV and newspapers showed cemeteries with ready dug burial sites for the next victims and barely keeping up. Respirator machines were in short supply and medical masks were depleted and hard to obtain.
Soon fake info news would rise up in our communities about who to blame and what would cure the and protect us from the virus. Some even suggested ‘horse medicine’ (Ivermectin) and other solutions (Hydroxychloroquine) could be the cure.
Although late on the uptake of realizing the devastation with economic rip-ups of our communities, Government bodies (our people’s representatives) swung into action to remediate the damage by making available grants, loans and income assistance to personal and businesses alike to keep us all in tack and stop the fall out as much as they could determine where the needs were.
While all of this was going on the medical community also sprung into action analyzing the virus and trying to get a handle on what type of preventive action could be considered to help stem the severity of this illness in people. Tests and research and history (think: insulin, small-pox, polio, measles, diphtheria, yellow fever, etc.) indicated vaccines might be the answer. Although this required much late-night laboratory efforts with short intensive guided trials, it was not long before some had at least developed a vaccine that could lessen the punch of this disease if administered in at least 2 doses. So Pfizer and Moderna and other pharmaceuticals created vaccines sprung to the foreground as medical helps to end this fast moving disease by getting it freely into human arms thereby quickly coming to a ‘herd’ immunity status in our neighbourhoods and giving the ‘bug’ nowhere else to grow. We breathed a sigh of relief and thought, I think we got it! This nightmare might just end by Spring/Summer 2021! News flash (January 17, 2022): A new pill Paxlovid by Pfizer which when administered within the first 5 days of contracting Covid may curtail the effects of the disease.
In the meantime, there were many who scoffed at the promised effects of the vaccines citing various claims and ‘expert’ inside knowledge and (conspiracy) theories that the stuff in the vaccine would harm you or your future children’s DNA. Crowds formed around hospitals demonstrating against hard working, sometimes sacrificing (dying) nurses and doctors busy saving lives in the crowded ICUs of our hospitals. Political figures and other notables fanned the flames of the anti-vaxxers rhetoric. Calling on ‘human rights’; ‘my body my choice’; and the BIG one ‘no government is going to tell me what to do’. Sadly many sincere people were led ‘around the bush’ by these tactics including some of my people in the Reformed Christian communities. (see letter to the editor The Hamilton Spectator – December 14, 2021)
Although we all thought by September 2021 we had seen the end of this pandemic and even after noting a variant ‘Delta’ had evolved prompting from a 3rd booster shot, we were again confronted with a new variant labelled Omicron. Very contagious and spreading rapidly around the world.
So two years in and we are still in LOCKDOWN hiding from the new variant Omicron. Already I have noticed there are scares (rumours) of another variant ‘DeltaCrom’?
So here we are then, at home in lockdown mode. Sparce visits with family in the last 2 years. Economic hardships for many. Children and students taking the brunt of the social pains. Limited community interactions for our teens and older seniors. Educators on edge. Cultural events scrapped or reduced. Controversies about treatment and prevention. Medical staff at their wits end. Religious communities and church congregations divided and unable to practice their beliefs in person. Supply and demand of goods and services in disarray. Everyone now needs a vaccination certificate qualify for travel.
Why? How? What now? Is there maybe a reason for all this to happen to us? Where is God in all this?
N. T. Wright (Bible scholar) wrote a little book in 2020 “God and the Pandemic” in which he says we should not jump to conclusion that God is angry because of our (sins) shortcomings and failings. Rather this all should teach us to be humble and caring people in the face of this struggle. There is more and you can read about it in this little book.
For me, I say, we do not know, but God still cares and understands our fears and failings. Perhaps this teaches us to be wise and compassionate in a time when we see and experience a lot of other earth shattering (warming and warring) events and problems. The second part of the unity command statement ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ has certainly come into sharp focus.
This Pandemic is not yet over and we will see……….. However let me draw your attention to an old Hymn. One that we always sing when we as citizens, annually remember our national defense efforts in times of war and great crisis, a mixture of the bad and sacrifices in all the victories:
O GOD OUR HELP IN AGES PAST. (Text: Isaac Watts – Tune: ST. ANNE)
Verse 6: O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
still be our guard while troubles last,
and our eternal home!
May the God of grace grant us delivery of this virus soon!
May you be blessed with peace and well-being!
JS January 17th, 2022
NOTE: as of January 18, 2022 we see the following numbers of COVID deaths:
USA 846,000; Brazil 621,000; India 486,000; Russia 315,000; WORLD 5,500,000; CANADA 30,000; ONTARIO 10,700