Have we lost control?
Once upon a time, travel was a risky business, crossing continents was almost unheard of; even at home, the rich and wealthy would have a residence in London as well as one in the country, such was the length of time it took just to do a few hundred miles. Since before I can remember, crossing continents hasn’t been an act of faith; it has been a fact of life. Flying seems so simple that even a small delay can push us over the edge. You can put your car on a ferry or in a tunnel and, if you want, visa permitted, drive around half the inhabited world.
Then came Convid-19, which has blasted the metaphor ‘going viral’. It’s a salutary lesson that some things we just can’t control. Our world is much more interconnected; what happens in one place is much more likely to be on the other side of the world in 24 hours. This is something that no army or stockpile of weapons can deter. Events have been cancelled, our sports calendar has been decimated, film premiers shelved and staff told to work from home. Despite the school staying open, the normal rhythm of school life is not immune from the impact of this disease; a line has had to be drawn under a number of regular school activities.
As I cycled home on Monday, the roads were eerily empty. Coronavirus may make us reconsider how many journeys, holidays, work trips are actually necessary. It may make students think more closely about personal hygiene, which is not a bad thing in school. We are told frequently about the impact of antibiotic resistance, maybe we will take that a little more seriously. The havoc that this is causing is a lesson; it is nothing compared to what we face due to climate change if we don’t wise up to the threats.
The global economy has now got a ‘sick note’ and will not grow in the manner previously expected. Governments will look at global supply chains and it is likely that we will see less reliance on shipping widgets halfway across the planet. A disease that so aggressively targets older people may even shift the demographic structure of populations. I remember from my O’ Level History that the large number of men who died in the 1918 Spanish flu and the First World War has often been cited as one reason why the social and economic position of women improved so much in the 1920s.
There is something out there that we cannot control, today we are nowhere near as independent and confident of the control we have over our lives than we did just two weeks ago. Our holiday plans, nights out and trips to the theatre, visits to grandparents have all changed with no input from us.
One of the things I remember growing up as a youngster, was how often an adult would say “God willing”. This comes from the Acts of the Apostles “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
I’m not a healthcare expert or medical practitioner, but the ‘Lord’s will’ reminds us that we have a place to go when we have lost control and cry for help. That place is described in the word of God, which reminds us where to put our hope. Our hope is not in what we save or even in our physical health.
Psalm 20:7 reminds us: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God“