AS WE see from China and Italy, the challenge of Covid-19 is not just the virus itself but the restrictions that come with quarantining or ‘lock down’ of cities or areas.
It will by no means be the worst crisis humanity has ever faced but it is hitting us at a time when societies in the West, at least, are somewhat fragile and brittle. For those inclined to disorder, opportunities may arise and this in turn may bring out the worst in others.
Yet with every challenge comes an opportunity. We all obviously need to take care of ourselves and our families but perhaps we can also keep an eye out for the vulnerable people on our street and offer to get a bit of shopping in for them. Surely that is what supermarket home deliveries are for, you might say, but these supply systems may not be able to cope if demand for them surges. What might the smallest bit of social contact in the day mean to someone who has ‘self-isolated’?
If enough people make the effort, this difficulty could lay the foundation for the establishment or renewal of social bonds. It is relatively easy to love your neighbour in the easy times when little is at stake. It will mean that much more to yourself and others if you can love your neighbour when the chips are down and life is hard.
In the aftermath of this virus there will likely be a great deal of soul-searching about the vulnerability of open societies to the spread of contagions, the risks of panic and, potentially, the willingness of people to riot and loot should law and order become vulnerable. The coming challenges may well bring out the worst in some but perhaps others can bring out the best in what humanity has to offer.