There is no doubt that this pandemic is a calamity.
It is infecting millions, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of the aged, the ill, the poor, the indigenous and front line workers in health, food processing and distribution.
It has given rise to a myriad of insane and self-contradictory conspiracy theories ranging from “ the virus does not exist” to, “it is a creation of evil political forces to harm society.”
One of the most shocking features of the pandemic is its penetration into Residential Aged Care.
Professor Joseph Ibrahim, head of the Health Law and Ageing Unit at Monash University told the Royal Commission into Aged Care that aged-care residents account for about 68 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths, despite being just 1 per cent of the population. [ABC News, 12 August]
Also under threat from this pandemic are “minimum wage workers, often migrants, and often in contingent or casual jobs who are suffering unduly from the disease.”
The most infections are found in four of the five most socio-economically disadvantaged municipalities in Melbourne.
These five areas are also where the most insecure work is found. [Age, 8 August]
Many scientists, like David Quammen, have pointed to the relationship between this pandemic and our assault upon the environment. [Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic 2012 ]
The threat of future pandemics from the thawing of the permafrost has also been described in many studies. Ancient bacteria and viruses are being reintroduced through the process of climate warming. [Jasmin Fox-Skelly BBC Earth, 4 May 2017 ]
When we consider the statement in the Quran, ” Who makes most excellent everything that He creates.” (32:7), we might wonder at how this might be.
Said Nursi asserts that the inner aspect of all things is good.
Not everything that man regards as bad is really evil, for, “it may well be that you hate a thing the while it is good for you, and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you: and God knows, whereas you do not know.” [Quran, 2:21]
The Qur’an also says that “it may well be that you dislike something which God might yet make a source of abundant good.” [4:19]
Hasan Horkuc writes in his PhD thesis: “Said Nursi’s Ideal for Human Society: Moral and Social Reform in the Risalae-I Nur; “Even the most undesirable things and events are good in regard to their results. In reality, apparent harms, tribulations and calamities are not misfortunes. They are not evil and bad. They are created for many beneficial and everlasting results. They are created on purpose.” [University of Durham, July 2004]
This pandemic has been devastating for many families and economies but within the horror there is evidence of mercy.
We are witnessing a major focus throughout the world on the inequalities and injustices which this pandemic has exposed.
It has brought a new consciousness of social and political responsibility, exposing racism, corruption and stupidity in the ruling elite of many nations.
It is bringing about the emergence of a new leadership from amongst the people which will strengthen as the years proceed.
It has led to a focus on the dangers of uncontrolled climate change and of pagan attitudes towards the aged.
It has exposed the evil of uncontrolled capitalism in driving down the earnings and job security of many millions of workers.
The new awareness which has emerged, like the djinn of ancient stories, cannot be put back in the bottle.
The old ways will be changed, willingly or unwillingly.