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COVID-19 Pandemic — Some Things Are Beyond Us By Achike Chude

April 3, 2020

While humanity has been sorely wounded and faiths in the old order shaken, Mankind must pick himself up, knowing that he has been humbled by circumstances beyond himself.


Oh Man! Where is thy sting?

Are all thy feats, nuclear warheads, scientific breakthroughs, accomplishments, shrunk to these little measures?

Fear, anxiety, panic, paranoia, helplessness, hopelessness, confusion, disbelief and unbelief reign supreme across the seven continents of the globe. Ordinary people, the poor, the rich, politicians and electors, presidents and statesmen, craftsmen and professionals, clerics, religious and lay people, terrorists and bandits, activists and pacifists, all are inexorably linked by an unusual, contradictory and unprecedented bond of human solidarity. All, are driven by the same passion, the same inclination described by Darwin as the driving force of all human action - survival (not of the fittest in this case). All are driven by the same desire; to seek, tame, and destroy the deadly,  invisible Covid-19 virus that has so rudely, unceremoniously, and surreptitiously invaded our human space and interrupted in such a vile manner, all human activities.

Never has humanity faced such a deadly foe, at least in modern times. Never has human ingenuity been challenged in such a foul manner. Never has mankind's vulnerability been laid so bare. Not even the upheavals of the great wars in 1914 and 1939 could compare to this uncontrolled Covid-19 pandemic. Suddenly, man in all his wisdom, knowledge, and abilities has been stopped in his tracks, his frailties and failings exposed. And this has happened on his beloved planet earth. Now he will realise the enormity of the contradictions of his desire to conquer space and the solar system when he has yet to conquer in a respectful and responsible manner, the world he lives in.

Everybody is agreed that the world will never be the same again after we have hopefully seen to the total annihilation of the last of this ubiquitous, offensive and unwholesome scourge upon our human collective. It will never be the same because (at least for this afflicted, generation) behind every action of mankind and womankind, could lurk other more serious insidious, invidious, and deadlier biological organisms. This generation of humanity will certainly be on edge, and it is precisely this psychological disposition that should be enough to generate anew, questions about what the world should do with the stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in the arsenal of the great powers. It is made all the more imperative by the swirling and unending conspiracy theories about the origin of this virus. The possibility of human experimentation gone wrong over this Covid-19 nightmare readily conjures once more the Chernobyl nuclear disasters of 1986 in the Soviet Union and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. The world is simply not safe and mankind is guilty of an erratic world that is increasingly becoming an abode of self destructive tendencies led by governments and corporations.

The world that humanity was left with was one that was capable of self-renewal and auto-regeneration in a way that served the continuous purpose of mankind and womankind for as long as the rules of engagement were observed. Unfortunately, the decades old debate about environmental degradation is a damning verdict that man has obeyed nature's rules absolutely in the breach.

So while the debate will begin in earnest post Covid-19, about what happens with the global economy and the individual socio-economic disposition of nations following lessons learnt, it is instructive to note that new social and cultural challenges have been thrown up. It is a natural historical trajectory that such questions are asked in the aftermath of such a destructively impactful occurrence. New attitudes, beliefs and behaviours will be formed while the old beliefs are either renewed, strengthened or discarded.

The great British philosopher Bertrand Russel once taught that "To understand an age or a nation, we must first understand its philosophy" According to him, "Philosophies emerge from their particular society but conversely they feed back into those societies (even if in a diluted form) and do much to determine their development. He argues that moral or ethical concepts cannot be understood without knowledge of the society that generated them.

While humanity has been sorely wounded and faiths in the old order shaken, Mankind must pick himself up, knowing that he has been humbled by circumstances beyond himself. He is not as wise, as knowledgeable and, as able as he thought. Saddled with this knowledge of his limited capacity, he must seek new ways to restore human dignity in a world full of contradictions. Somebody once said that the only lesson that man has learnt is that he has learnt nothing. There is a possibility that post-Covid-19, the scourges and scars of the anti Covid-19 battle might weigh heavily upon him for only a time before he goes back to his old bad ways. But there is always the chance that lessons learnt could be applied to achieve a new human equilibrium. Surely it is worth a try.  Humanity might fail in the process, but it will be worse if no effort is made.

Truly, there are some things that are beyond us.