By John J. Metzler
The Coronavirus outbreak has closed down the world, at least as we know it. From the Far East into Europe and North America shutdowns, lockdowns, and stay at home orders are the norm. And for good reason; COVID-19 poses the most dangerous global Pandemic since the 1918 scourge which killed millions.
This is not a test; The pandemic is tragically all too real.
Holy Week is upon us and both the rituals and rites and joyful religiosity of the Easter Season are strangely absent save for the Peeps and some chocolate bunnies in the supermarkets. Church services are banned; in this case Palm Sunday and Easter, the holiest most hopeful days of the Christian calendar, can’t be publicly celebrated since gatherings are forbidden.
Neither can Passover be celebrated with its ancient message of freedom.
Yet this is not the order of some dystopian alien dictatorship which has seized our world while we were watching Netflix, but rather the sober realization of policymakers that we had better not fool around with Covid-19.
Clearly the atmosphere remains surrealistic in our cities, schools and stores.
So, from the USA to South America, Australia, South Africa and even India; <em>We are Closed.</em>
Wuhan, China where the deadly virus started in November faces a socio/political Purgatory which still continues despite the happy talk
by Beijing’s Marxist mandarins that the health emergency is largely solved. China’s lack of transparency has deepened and obscured the overall crisis.
Beijing’s mendacious regime may still face its “Chernobyl Moment” when the full truth emerges! And it most certainly will.
Western Europe remains the epicenter of the deadly virus with Italy, Spain and France facing the largest mass casualty events since the Second World War. Britain and Germany are not too far behind. France has used draconian police powers to keep people off the streets, to protect them from this unseen enemy. Even senior citizens need permission passes to take walks during the day! Vibrant cities such as Paris are ghost towns, bathed in beautiful Spring days!
Just a year ago during Holy Week, Notre Dame cathedral, the iconic Gothic masterpiece which has graced Paris for nearly a millennium, suffered a terrible fire; the heart of France was ripped but her Soul has yet more to endure from further calamities with the pandemic.
The USA now too confronts a frightful onslaught of Corona, with the virus sweeping major urban centers such as New York and New Orleans. New York has become an eerie place.
Again, the jarring changes come not from atheistic regimes but from the cold hard dictate of “The scientists” who in the name of our salvation, are vigorously guarding our health.
These experts are being followed with near theological rigor.
Indeed, Netflix has become the new deacon and holds our attention with droning vespers of vivid entertainment and mini-series. While I will refrain from saying Hooray for Hollywood, let’s be happy that given this Sports Free Spring there is some entertainment.
The U.S. Economy which stood powerfully at its bright zenith; has now been eclipsed by Planet Corona. As publisher Steve Forbes suggested on FOX, the economy has been put into an induced coma. Stopping for a time before its revival. But a revival soon it must be.
The sudden shutdown loss of more than nine million jobs, through no fault of the companies or the workers, remains a grim consequence of the government/governors health shutdowns. People are hurting and want to get back to work. Small business and farmers deserve a chance. Health care workers, doctors, truckers and food store staff deserve a shout out!
New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan in a special message to Christians and Jews in the <em>New York</em> <em>Post</em> underscored that as a country, a state and especially “for us as a city, are ‘passing over’ from contagion, fear, infection, isolation and suffering, to unity, healing, recovery and a renewed life.” Cardinal Dolan added that both the message of Passover and Easter underscored the point of salvation.
Now as a wartime president, Donald Trump has marshaled a public/private sector initiative and coordination not seen in the USA since WWII. What used to be rightly called the Arsenal of Democracy during WWII, will become the Engine of American Revival and Renewal in our times.
But it’s now Spring! Easter is a time of rebirth and reawakening, for our societies worldwide and for our battered economies.
Donald Trump stressed, “We have to open our country again!” This is certain. We eagerly await the green light to get going again!
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014).
Free Press International