Sir Frank Peters
World War III has begun without a single shot being fired.
For the first time in history, countries have been forced to put aside their petty political indifferences and become united in facing the common enemy, Coronavirus.
Coronavirus has been the greatest wake-up call to mankind since the world began. My dear friend Bill Gates and I have been heavy in argument of recent. William believes there is a spiritual purpose behind it, I don’t.
To me it is as natural as the annual flooding or season changes.
Once you assign ‘spiritual purpose’, all sorts of religious debate usually explodes; which religion is number one, which one isn’t. If I belong to this or that religion will it save me from a Coronavirus attack?
The answer, of course, is it won’t! And even if you’re communist, as indeed the majority of people in the Chinese city of Wuhan are, there are no special concessions for them, neither.
Coronavirus has no political or religious prejudices. Whether you are Christian, Muslin. Hindu, Buddhist or an Atheist… it doesn’t care. It’s completely without prejudice… King, Queen, Prince, trillionaire or pauper, it doesn’t care. It’s quite happy to take shelter in any port in a storm.
It is void of the usual political, religious or royal hang-ups, although its name has pedigree royal connection. It is borrowed from Latin corōna “garland worn on the head as a mark of honor or emblem of majesty, halo around a celestial body, top part of an entablature”. Perhaps we should be addressing the virus as His Majesty or Her Majesty!
Experts are saying that good hygiene and isolation are the best weapons in combatting ALL contagious diseases and Coronavirus is no different.
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, however, said this over 1,300 years ago!
He said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place. Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy.”
Muhammad also strongly encouraged human beings to adhere to hygienic practices that would keep people safe from infection.
“Cleanliness is part of faith. The blessings of food lie in washing hands before and after eating,” he said.
One can only wonder if the people of Wuhan had listened to the good advice of Muhammad, if Coronavirus would have become pandemic.
There are many aspects of this coronavirsus invasion, however, that I find somewhat refreshing. Mainly because I’m a positive thinker at heart and I always look for the silver lining, the light at the end of the tunnel, when it’s not always obvious.
I do agree with my friend Bill Gates that coronavirus is reminding us we are all equal, “regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we are. This disease treats us all equally”, he says. That coming from the richest man on the planet, who can purchase any earthly thing he wants, says a lot.
He was very adamant when he said: “Coronavirus is reminding us that we are all connected and something that affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that the false borders that we have put up have little or no value, as this virus does not need a passport or a visa. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression.”
Coronavirus has introduced itself to the world as a powerful, silent new player that demands respect and attention.
While it has the power to kill many, is killing many, and will go on to kill many more, it does have a silver lining. It is serving mankind as a wake-up call and presenting the world with an unique opportunity to rethink its priorities, to rethink its values and to prepare our defences against future attacks.
There are relatively poor countries on this earth whose people are struggling to fill their bellies and survive, but their masters have a stockpiled nuclear power weapons, adding more and more and more continuously in full view of their pot-bellied starving citizens, in the event of what may never happen and is unlikely to happen.
That couldn’t be moral, that couldn’t right, that couldn’t be part of God’s master plan and I doubt if there is mention of acceptance recorded in the Holy Book of their specific religion (unless they added it themselves).
Coronavirus is not a political war, subject to Geneva Convention rules. It doesn’t matter what jet fighters a country scrambles into the air, how many soldiers they get to man their borders or their nuclear strength.
Coronavirus is a timely lesson for mankind.
It is reminding us of how precious our health really is and how we have neglected it through eating junk foods and drinking water that is contaminated with chemicals.
It is reminding us how much we depend on each other and how fragile our lives are. Now even a simple sneeze can be as effective as a sledgehammer or machine gun fire.
It is time to rethink what we really value in life and make the necessary changes.
A serious rethink
This ‘war’ offers no opportunities for the usual political sound bites, assumptions, and guesswork that usually feature in newspapers columns and distract the masses from reality and facts.
Irrespective of the party badge they wear, governments throughout the world will be held accountable for their actions (or inactions) to protecting its people.
There is nothing more that bonds a nation in spirit and response than a national disaster. When the dust has settled, figuratively speaking, the awkward questions will surface and the answers to which can spell doom for the government of the day in the next ballot box.
As in all wars the first casualty is truth, but truth and scientific-based knowledge are what will help keep the people alive in this war.
No citizen wants to see a government in power that misleads them, put their lives or the lives of their loved ones at risk, or don’t give them adequate protection during a crisis.
Neither do they appreciate flim-flam talk from politicians, celebrities, or in this case, even doctors with opinions based on their modicum of knowledge on the subject. All that matters is scientific facts, not opinions, however well intended.
Right now the world is in total disarray. People are living in fear not knowing if the worst has been or if it still to come.
Nobody can say they are safe and actually believe it because nobody is safe until Coronavirus has gone through its full cycle. What we do know it that it will not go on forever…. “And this too will pass”.
If it is a message, a wake-up call, from God or the universe, all we can do for now is to protect ourselves and our loved ones as best we can and hope or pray (or both) we are spared.
It is the reasonability of all governments to act responsibly towards combatting and preventing the disease from spreading and to feed the people with scientific facts, not make-believe outcomes or silly wishful thinking comments, as if they had the disease under their control. What enhances fear is confusion and misinformation.
While governments are not responsible for the disease itself, they will be held accountable for the way in which it is handled and many, no doubt, may tumble at the next ballot box voting as a result.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper publisher and editor, an award winning writer, a humanitarian, and a royal Goodwill Ambassador).