By Nikhat Fatima
Our world is suffering from different illnesses, but without a doubt the one that first comes to our mind is the dreaded Coronavirus. The tiny virus – smaller than one micrometer – has brought the world to a dead end, the imposed lockdown turned the world topsy- turvy. The economy is in a tailspin, international travel is at a virtual standstill, more than six months into this pandemic and yet it’s not the time for any country to take it’s foot off the pedal. It often feels that the world is shrinking; we live in an interconnected world, where borders are porous, more like living membranes than physical walls. But in generations nothing has so bound the world together as Covid-19. It rapidly has become a common language : the fear, the despair, the impuissance, the empty streets, vacant parks, silent malls, shuttered schools and closed religious and work places. The tiny virus isolates and alienates it’s victims and doctors in hazmat suits treat men and women as if they are the virus. With the lockdown slowly easing across the world, but the virus still looming large over us, I’m reminded of Louise Shropshire’s famous song that we can still sing, “We shall overcome”.
While this unpredictable and deadly Coronavirus has taken us captive and significantly affected our everyday lives, people have finally realized that they are battling more than just a physical illness. Perhaps the gravest of all is one of the soul. As mankind flounders in combating the scourge, Coronavirus pandemic have compelled millions of people to turn to God for seeking solace, succor and salvation. One of the main pieces of advice given by WHO is to frequently wash your hands and people are no longer limiting it to just a ritual of physical purity rather they’re reflecting on a far deeper truth – turning to God. People are anxious, depressed, confused, and exhausted. It’s as if an illness is running through their veins and stealing every ounce of life in their soul. They want answers, and most of all they want a hope that is above the chaos.
The Coronavirus comes at a time when most in the society feel they do not need God. For these, God has long been replaced by bread and intellect. And yet the Coronavirus has uncannily uprooted the believe that, we don’t need God. A small virus that’s not even visible to the naked eye has turned our material possessions into our worst nightmares. The cruise ship, the symbol of all earthly pleasures became a hotspot for the passengers who did everything possible to get out. Those who had made sports and sportsmen their God now find empty stadiums and cancelled tournaments. The Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius, meaning “faster, higher, stronger” has gone for a toss in this global crisis. A smaller and weaker virus could postpone the Olympics. The self-acclaimed ‘super powers’ with nuclear power plants and largest defense forces in the world however, have not produced any cure for such macabre organism . Negative approach, botched up lockdown, delayed actions and wrong policies resulted in making the US the most hard hit country in the world. In response to the Coronavirus pandemic President Donald Trump held a National Day of Prayer for a Coronavirus free America. Those who adored wealth now find themselves in quarantined workforce. The worshipers of power look helplessly at their Impotency. Vladimir Putin is in his fourth term; he has been the dominant figure in Russian politics for 20 years in a row. He surprised the nation with his announcement to include God and faith in the constitution. Those who turned their celebrities into a demigod and even made temples for worshiping them, are feeling deflated to realize that their idols are just like them, prone to infection. The devotees of consumerism/materialism are dejected to see toilet paper wars and empty shelves of supermarket. Those that idolized science are helplessly watching this apocalypse, expecting supernatural force to stop this mayhem. Those who vouched on fame have eloped to islands to protect themselves from the virus.Corona virus doped almost entire global governance, social and political establishments alike. The mighty army of scientific community has failed to find a vaccine. The world of finance, economy and technology are to shoulder the burden of disastrous effects of post Coronavirus.
A small microorganism has crushed the idols that were once perceived to be stable, powerful and imperishable. The tally of sick and deceased mounts higher every single day. A Coronaphobia is travelling across the globe, sneakily yet quickly. Present clinical, muscular and intellectual attempts have disappointed a fearful and frenetically intemperate society.
Faith is the solace of first resort for billions of people grappling with pandemic for which scientists, doctors and the secular world seem, so far, to have no answers. Rabbi David Lau, the Ashkenazi cheif rabbi in Israel, urged the Jews to say 100 blessings daily, as King David did when confronted with a plague. The internet offered a sterile way to worship from home. The Pope’s Mass was live streamed. The Coptic patriarch of Egypt, Pope Tawadros II, said the pandemic was a wakeup call to repent, “if there are differences between people”, he said in an online sermon, ” this is the time for reconciliation”.
With both solution and leadership in absence, dread over Coronavirus has driven the globe’s faithful, unfaithful and the powerful closer to religion. For many the Coronavirus crisis has brought home the point that it is divine call to reject godless society. This pandemic has given every reason to confide in God. The rich and the poor, the mighty and the weak, the young and the old, the famous and the unknown, the ruler and the ruled have realised that the solution lies in reinvigorating faith.