#PoeticLicence: Covid-19 is a baptism by fire and only phoenixes will rise

By Time of article published Jan 16, 2021

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By Rabbie Serumula

I know his eyes only. I had seen him a handful of times before, busy beautifying the same house’s façade. Landscaping the same yard with impeccable precision. With breathtaking artistry.

While walking from the shop, this time I did not only greet him with a muffled voice from beneath my mask. Drawn to his finesse with grass cutters and trimmers, I was compelled to compliment his flair with gardening tools.

I still do not know his name, but he reminded me that we are in a new world.

He reminded me that Covid-19 is a revolution. One by nature on humanity.

A forced reset button. It is a baptism by fire, and only phoenixes will rise.

It is a new social order, a new system. And if it is not any of those, then surely it is a catalyst to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

We need to know that we are in a new age in order for us to live accordingly.

We are, after all, designed to adapt and survive.

It is important to acknowledge that the only two constant variables of existence are change and death. We are, after all, also designed to either change, or die trying.

So, we die of Covid-19 because we are front line workers. We are essential workers interacting with those who’ve walked on a road most travelled by the virus. Those whose brush with it is unknown to us.

But some of us die because we do not want to change, we die because of blind faith, misinformation and conspiracy theories.

If the virus is present, no God will save a group of about 250 people who illegally gathered for a church service. Neither will He do likewise at a funeral, or a playground.

It does not matter how much we believe God or our ancestors will protect us, if we do not protect ourselves from the virus.

I have heard people say they do not think the virus exists. And others openly rebuke the not-yet-available vaccine carrying the “mark of the beast”. Yet we want to cure this virus by steaming with eucalyptus oil, Vicks VapoRub or hot stones.

If change is a constant variable of existence, to survive Covid-19 we need to change our cultural and religious practices too.

Yes, social contact helps us to cope with stress and major life changes. Human interaction is important for our mental and physical health.

But we are surely not laying our culture to rest by having Zoom funerals? We are not betraying our maker by praising through mobile screens. What a non-progressive God we serve if He were to feel betrayed by this.

Too many times we have claimed to be our ancestors wildest dreams!

How unreasonable would they be for turning their backs on us solemnly, based on our natural inability to practise our rituals in ways they are not accustomed to?

The artistry by the man whom I know his eyes only, reminded me of change. And how beautiful it can be.

The gardening tools he used to glamourise that house’s façade, landscaping the same yard with impeccable precision, fit more into the Second Industrial Revolution of using electric power for mass production. But the idea of fundamentally altering the way we live, work and relate to one another remains the same. We have firmly placed our feet in the grounds of a digital era through the advent of Covid-19. All that is left for us is to be aware of this fact, and live accordingly.

Saturday Star

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