“The coronavirus pandemic.” Those words have become a news media logjam. Just this morning, wife Evelyn and I were watching CNN. From the time we began eating breakfast until we finished, the only topic discussed was the coronavirus – its impact on the world’s oil industry, its disproportionate effect on minorities, the pushback from people who are taking on an “I don’t give a damn, just open up the country and let us deal with the consequences” mindset (I was particularly disturbed by the man carrying a placard that read, “Give me liberty or give me COVID-19”).
Among the deluge of information that has come into my brain over the past many weeks was a short article in Time magazine by Tsai Ing-Wen, President of Taiwan (“What Taiwan Did Right,” April 27 – May 4, 2020; pg. 88 ). President Tsai summarized the steps that the country took to make sure that COVID-19 cases remained at a minimum, despite the island country’s proximity to the source of the disease.
However, what struck me just as much as her decisive action that protected her people to the best extent possible was her philosophical perspective. She writes:
Global crises test the fabric of the international community, stretching us at the seams and threatening to tear us apart. Now more than ever, every link in this global network must be accounted for. We must set aside our differences and work together for the benefit of humankind. The fight against COVID-19 will require the collective efforts of people around the world.
The idea of a common enemy uniting the world is not new. Many thinkers over the centuries have pondered what might happen if the entire Earth were to be attacked by an outside force of some kind, such as aliens from outer space. Would human beings wake up to the realization that, yes, this planet is all we have and that if we are to have a future, we need to come together to fight that outside force? Could there be anything so threatening – so frightening – that our political, economic, religious, cultural, etc., differences could be set aside while we join forces to fight the enemy for the common good?
So far, that hasn’t happened. As one example: for the most part, nations continue to turn a blind eye to the destruction being wreaked on our environment by climate change. So why should the threat of a virus be any more cause for concern?
How I wish Pres. Tsai’s appeal could be heard – and heeded – by the leaders of Earth’s nations! There is no greater worldly force than people coming together for a common cause. As the president said, “We must set aside our differences and work together for the benefit of humankind.”
God help us to see clearly how right that is. And then to have leaders with the kahunas to act on it.