Apocalypse, and other words heard lately

In more than one recent conversation with friends I’ve heard people say things about the pandemic like “It’s almost apocalyptic.” Dictionary.com defines an apocalypse as “any universal or widespread destruction or disaster: The apocalypse of a nuclear war.

We like to think of an apocalypse as more the subject of a Hollywood movie.  However, by the above definition, the coronavirus of 2019 is indeed a widespread disaster.  With a worldwide death toll over 220,000 (world health organization, April30, 2020), economic losses speculated to be multiple trillions of dollars, and immeasurable social losses, the pandemic of 2019-2020 meets the dictionary definition of an apocalypse.

What do we do now? As of May 1,2020, it seems like the tide is beginning to turn. Nations across the world, including the United States are beginning to report infections, hospitalizations and deaths beginning to plateau and even decline. Talk and speculations now focus on re-entering society and “jump-starting” economies. Optimism is cautiously beginning to return.

No one knows for sure, is the virus reaching its peak? Is a worldwide ‘relapse’ likely? What will our ‘new normal’ be?

Take heart, and let go of some anxiety.  In some ways, the covid-19 crisis is nothing new. Certainly health scares and pandemics have hit us before.

We’ve heard covid-19 compared to the flu pandemic of 1918. Our current issues pale in comparison to the estimated 20-50 million who died and 500 million who were infected across the world from this rampant influenza strain. When you consider modern healthcare to 1918, any comparisons are like comparing apples and airplanes!

More recently there was a flu pandemic in 1968 that killed 1million people, it was officially labelled H3N2, people on the streets just called it the Hong Kong flu (named after the location of first outbreaks). The AIDS/HIV virus has killed an estimated 36 million people since 1981.

The point is this, pandemics are nothing new. Sadly, they come periodically and plague the globe with illness and death. Today’s 24-7 modern media makes us overly aware of every illness and death as though death is perpetually and uniquely on our doorstep.

I fancy myself as a realistic optimist, with a foundation of faith in God. Viewing our world and its history realistically, we realize apocalyptic crises are part of life. In the 1980’s the world watched what is still the worst nuclear disaster when the Chernobyl reactor had a dreaded  meltdown. The nuclear poison has permanently scarred and largely deserted the local landscape.

The 1980”s experienced economic crises as well.  June 19, 1987 is known as “Black Monday” as an unexpected stock market crash struck the global financial markets. In one day, the Dow Jones fell over 22%.

The decade of the 1990’s was war-torn.  Operation Desert Storm was launched on January 17, 1991 by a U.S. led 35 nation coalition against the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq. This was only one of many wars and rumors of wars in this troubled part of the Middle East.  In 1994 the world watched in horror the barbaric slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda due to civil war. (That was over 13% of the country’s total population.)

The new century ushered in one of the greatest false alarms of history known as Y2K. The world breathed a sigh of relief shortly after midnight new year’s day when no computer related apocalypse happened.

Still, that decade had its share of tragedy. On  September 11, 2001 terrorists destroyed the twin towers in New York and the world hasn’t been the same.

Three months later, Enron went bankrupt in 2001 sending economic shockwaves across the investment world and costing $17 billion.  September 29, 2008 is known as “black Monday” as an economic apocalypse seemed to dawn and usher in “the worst economy in the U.S. since the great depression.”

Natural disasters were of apocalyptic proportions in the early 2,000’s as well.  A tsunami killed over 300,000 people in southeast Asia in December 2004, and Hurricane Katrina was a category 5 tropical cyclone that killed over 1,200 people and caused $125 billion in damage in the gulf area of the United States in August 2005.

A new kind of horror became common with mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, followed by similar senseless killings in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and a music festival in Las Vegas, just to name a few.

The world can be a dangerous place. We are not immune from disease and natural disasters are world-wide varying only by geographical likelihood (is the area you live in vulnerable to a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or fire?) None of us is immune from economic crises. No ones’ financial future is unconditionally safe.

It only takes a rogue dictator or international misunderstanding to trigger what could bring a military, nuclear apocalypse. We live in a world of vulnerability; we always have, and short of Heaven, we always will.

Here is the GOOD NEWS, depending on how many birthdays you’ve had (I’ve had more than half a century of them) all these horrible and many others things happened in the world, and we survived! In fact, you have probably done much more than survived, in your own way, along with life’s struggles, you have thrived!

Put the covid-19 crisis into a larger historical perspective, it is highly likely, you-will-make-it! Sadly, many lives will be lost, and there will be very painful undesirable costs and ripple effects. But you-will-survive! Not only will you survive, much of your life and lifestyle will bounce back, you will recover, along with most people, and in the future you-will-thrive.

 

 

 

One thought

  1. It is always good to step back and take things in the bigger perspective. We often forget, or are often led by the constant barrage of selected news stories the media decides to focus on. Very well put Pastor Stan and thank you for your level headed approach and leadership.

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