The rage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been as astonishing as any epic disaster can be. What startles some of us more is the unabashed projection that millions of Africans will die, probably as soon as the pandemic ends at the current epicenters. How come some of these analysts speak with so much certainty and do not suggest that they are merely projecting from indices that only they know?
When humanity recovers from the plague – COVID-19 – there will be a new normal. This goes beyond the unknown numbers of people who have been sick or died. And it goes beyond the deep economic impact that this plague has already had on the planet. It’s about trauma. It’s about how most of us will be feeling.
Worker leaders in South Africa are awakening to a new reality, as they must be all over the world. The old certainties are no longer as firm as they once seemed. It’s noticeable that the phrase “When this is over” is not automatically followed by “and when we get back to normal” but is instead left hanging in the air. What exactly will the new “normal” look like?
In a classic episode of Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone entitled “The Old Man in the Cave,” a small town has survived a nuclear holocaust for 10 years while most of humanity is extinct. They have received sound advice from their leader who receives recommendations from an unseen “Old Man” in a cave.
A time like this demands and permits only sober consideration of where we are coming from, where we are and where we are heading. The world is virtually shut down due to the ravages of a virus. This is no time for grandstanding or for anyone to claim that they have anything under control.
Interestingly, the virus is not a new organism. It has been around.
Coronavirus, that tiny, invisible organism, has reminded humans that there are things that are not under our control. The virus has attacked the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak. It has largely taught us what equality could mean in an age when humility is not a common commodity. We must do our best to avoid any pandemonium even as towns and large swaths of nations have been locked down and large gatherings are avoided literally like there was a plague.