Microscopic pathogen brings world to its knees
The 19th-century science fiction thriller “The War of the Worlds,” by H.G. Wells, comes to mind in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. In the novel, the invading Martians are finally defeated, not by military might, political maneuvering or scientific skill, but by microscopic pathogens for which these extraterrestrials have no immunity. They are overcome by the smallest and least likely of foes. Now we find ourselves in a 21st-century nonfiction dilemma, facing an enemy we cannot see, smell, hear, taste or feel. All our military-industrial complex, all our political braggadocio, all our scientific and medical know-how have been reduced to telling us our current best defense is washing our hands, staying away from one another, and hoping for an eventual vaccine.
It has taken a simple and unlikely enemy to bring us literally and figuratively to our knees. We can’t bomb it, threaten it, buy it, or even wish it away. No socioeconomic system can overcome it. A virus has succeeded in getting the entire world’s attention, reminding us of our human limits and of how little it takes to make us fearful. It is a humbling experience. We aren’t as invincible as we like to think we are.
We do not welcome COVID19 to our world; but it is teaching us a great deal about ourselves and about who or what we believe in to save us.