You would need to be living under a rock in a remote mountain range somewhere not to have hear about the current worldwide panic situation, otherwise known as Coronavirus, or COVID-19. There are nightly news updates about which countries have now been impacted, travel warnings and quarantine advice constantly shared, and now panic buying of key staples in case the situation gets any worse. On the morning news segment that played on my clock radio this morning (that runs for 10 minutes in total) the first 6 minutes were taken up with Coronavirus related stories. 60% of the news bulletin!

While I appreciate that this is a disease that is new to us and we are still working out how to more accurately curtail it’s spread, as of 10 minutes ago, the total cases of people who have contracted the virus in the whole world is 106,211. I find this number staggeringly small given the air time it has received. I was expecting to discover that we were nearing the 1,000,000 infections mark. Of these, 3,600 have died but 60,215 have made a full recovery. I appreciate that words such as ‘pandemic’ and ‘crisis’ have been used frequently at this time but I wonder if we are catastrophizing this situation just a little.

Lots of people are quick to blame the media for this phenomenon because it appears that they want to speak of little else, but the fact is that if you are generally healthy you have a strong chance of recovering from this virus should you contract it. In fact, you are more likely to die from the flu. There have been a couple of examples in Australia where this situation is bringing out the worst, rather than the best, in our community.

There have been many, many accounts of people behaving in racist ways towards anyone of Asian appearance. It’s as if the world is looking for someone to blame and because the virus outbreak originated in mainland China it must be their fault. There are a few other wacky conspiracy ideas out there and I would advise not to search for them on the internet or you will be truly amazed at just how ridiculous some people can be.

The latest drama to befall our community is an obsession with purchasing ludicrous amounts of toilet paper. People are stocking up ‘just in case’. Supermarket shelves across our nation are cleared of their toilet paper supplies almost as quickly as they can be filled. There are videos of scuffles and arguments as people wrestle with one another to get that last pack of 48 rolls as if they are gold. I have been wondering if you ask them why they are buying up big what would be the reason they share? Some may say ‘the Coronavirus’, but really at the heart of it, everyone else is buying toilet paper so it must be the thing to do.

Humans are very good at being sheep. By that, I mean following the crowd, doing what everyone else seems to be doing. Sometimes we do it without much thought or reason, but it’s the popular thing so it must be worthwhile. It’s ultimately easier in life to just ‘go with the flow’ rather than evaluate if what others are doing is actually the right thing to do.

Jesus’ teaching is all about standing out from the crowd, doing the right thing, rather than the easy thing. His words are worth reading and contemplating, and they are just as handy as a guide for living in community today as they were 2000 years ago. Try checking out Matthew chapters 5 through to 7 for his Sermon on the Mount and see if you can’t hear some voice of reason in contrast to this world’s often selfish driven madness.

At this point in time there is not much else I can do in regard to the Coronavirus apart from keeping up good hygiene habits. I have decided that one thing I will do when I hear the next bombardment of information from the news is pray. I will pray for those infected, and for those treating them, and for those in the community that are reacting to this situation in fear. I will also offer a prayer for those who are battling other illnesses and conditions that have slipped off our radar. Their need is just as great at this time.

Be blessed, and keep well!

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