Napoleon once quipped that men live by imagination – by which, we may surmise, he meant that they live more in the future than the present, of what may yet be, instead of what is.
The two ways we as wayfaring humans in a fragile landscape are by the passions of hope and fear: We look forward to better things, to summer, to vacations, to meeting new people, all that life may offer. On the darker side, we live by fear – perhaps, now, more so than by hope – of what may befall us and our fellow men: War, famine, asteroids, ecological collapse and, of course, the coronavirus – the dreaded COVID-19, with infection rates just passing the 100,000 mark, and a death rate purportedly at 3.2%.
I wrote recently that some scientists say this virus has hit the ‘sweet spot’ between infectious rate and mortality, doing as much damage as it might. As we look around, however, it may already have done so, with people scared to venture forth outside their front porch. Every cough, sniffle, touched door handle, every event where you are within three feet of another possibly-infected human prompts our already-running-wild imagination – and if we know anything of the 14th century Black Death, it’s even worse.
Stock markets are tumbling; stadiums are empty; cities usually bustling with tourists are relative ghost towns; airlines are slashing prices; the Olympics may be moved or cancelled outright; even the new James Bond movie has been delayed until November. Apparently, it’s a smitten, woke Bond driving an electric car, upstaged by his female counterparts, so as far as some are concerned, Bond may sleep Rip van Winkle-like, as long as he wants.
One physician I know quite well called this the ‘bologna virus’, that it has been hyped up beyond any factual basis – it is, in his estimation, a slightly more virulent form of the common flu, which already kills thousands each and every year.
I suppose adopt what prudent precautions you might, fear not, take advantage of the open spaces, trust in God, and hope for the best. And always ensure your imagination is grounded in truth. Veritas vos liberabit, after all.