This is war!!


December 30

Yes, what we have been experiencing is all out war! But, war against an invisible foe except to a few scientists. A biological war against an old enemy, an enemy who has been around for over three and a half billion years and is a descendant of the earliest life on earth. Long, long before Homo sapiens arrived and began colonising it!

For the better part of three billion years, the earth was the entire province of bacteria, microbes and viruses. It was their world, and eventually we came along and spoiled the party for them. They began to fight back and numerous sicknesses, plagues and ‘black deaths’ over the millennia are proof to the strength of their ‘army’.

We are the aliens on this planet; we interrupted their quiet domination of life and from an early stage of our attempts to combat bacterial and viral infections, they have been pitting their wits against us to change and improve their tactics.

Certainly, they seemed to be winning the present round. But, eventually the new vaccines will prove effective to ensure immunity. But at what cost to the inhabitants of this planet?

Hundreds of thousands of people dead and our whole way of life turned upside-down in a few short weeks.

Physically we will recover, but financially, who knows to what extent we may be impoverished, or whether our whole way of civilized life will need to be changed forever.

Every great civilization of the past is dust; maybe one day ours will go the same way. In the meantime, we must ‘gird our loins’ as the saying goes, and rejoice in life!

Forgotten now, only to historians, are the great plagues of the 2nd, 4th and 6th centuries AD that together killed millions of Roman citizens and was very likely the prime cause that began the fall of the Roman Empire. Smallpox, measles and bubonic plague being the main culprits.

Outbreaks, such as the one in the mid-fourteenth century, killed almost half of the entire population of Europe. It took the Great Fire of London in 1666 finally to bring an end to the Great Plague of 1665. After WW1, the so-called ‘Spanish Flu’ left 50 million people dead worldwide, more than in both World Wars. There have been other, less virulent, viral outbreaks: I still remember well the great flu epidemic that swept Britain in the winter of 1957. So these are formidable opponents. But we are able to adapt, and I firmly believe that this ability is the principal reason we have survived and evolved as a species over the last few million years.

While in an isolated lock-down situation, boredom, loneliness, and depression was bound to occur. So, once again we have to learn to adapt. To view each new day as a blank page in our exercise book to be filled with new things that we have discovered, new skills acquired, new experiences and new ideas. Much as when an explorer finally reaches the peak of the mountain and is able at last to view the whole of the vista before him.

We should also look upon this opportunity to engender a closer spirit of co-operation and mindfulness of the needs of other people.

Post ‘Dunkirk’ was Britons’ ‘Darkest Hour,’ but at that time, we were still able to enjoy comradely times with friends and neighbours, and we had people like dear Vera Lynn and Winston Churchill to cheer us and give us hope. Women are often the engine of regeneration of a stricken society.

Remember – a good woman is a pearl among women – care, kindness and love is beyond price.

Peter Purvey

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