Would the ‘COVID pandemic’ have occurred if we had never identified the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its insipid variants?
Our response to danger developed within limits of the five evolved senses, so it would be surprising if the illumination of a microscopic world didn’t somewhat impair our social behaviour.
Whereas the ability to match particular symptoms to particular enemies may be exciting, the uptick in death from COVID is not. Mortality is consistent with a bad bout of seasonal flu (of which there has been suspiciously little). Recent figures from the UK indicate the average age of death due to COVID is 83 years*. British life expectancy overall is 81.
Of course, we can never disprove the assertion that things would have been different if we hadn’t responded by shutting down the developed world. But where proof of the danger lies in a new-found ability to trace a microscopic enemy using macroscopic data sets, it rather begs the question to think that science arrived just in time to prevent another Plague of Justinian.
We are all teeming with things, possibly including SARS-CoV-2, which could kill us. Fortunately we are mostly ‘asymptomatic’ – a neurotic term for what we used to call ‘healthy’.
We need to temper our deference to those at the cutting edge of human discovery. They are rookies by definition and rarely are the paroxysms which follow their breakthroughs any more enlightened or rational than the stoic values which preceded them.
At the height of the Cold War Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared that “the very worst the nuclear bomb can do is to sweep a vast number of people from this world into the next, into which they must all go anyway”. Where are these voices of reason now that we are faced with an earth-shattering 0.01% spike in natural mortality?
So, before the scientists find the next pale blue dot to titillate us with our own mortality, I propose a clerical moratorium on access to microscopes, telescopes and that largest Ouija Board devised by man – the World Wide Web. Peering through these instruments of science requires that stoic contempt of the alpha male on Valentine’s Day. Only professed members of sensible religions can be trusted to respond with a sense of proportion to what they encounter.
We hardly need a conspiracy theory to explain that, when we look to a cadre for both answers and solutions, they will make heroes of themselves by playing up the problem. There are too many worldly people I now have to trust in order to take the lockdowns seriously. Most of them have a blatant undeclared interest in maintaining the panic.
Rite and superstition are older and better ways to address the dangers which are beyond our natural perception. So I’m returning to Mount Athos this summer for those cramped, crowded, relic-kissing ten-hour liturgies. And until then, our governments can stick their vaccines where the enlightenment don’t shine.