13 March 2020

5 Better Responses to World War C

I watched that classic Zombie Film World War Z on Netflix last week. Like all Zombie films the human race is over run by a virus that instantly turns people into rabid homicidal flesh eating maniacs – it’s a romantic comedy! There is a happy ending thanks to the heroism of the film’s messiah figure (Brad Pitt) - but not before most of the world is infected. Its Hollywood fiction but in the past few weeks a vague parallel has emerged with the Corona virus. The Zombie contagion has arrived and it is World War C!

Suddenly all those crazy episodes of Doomsday Preppers have become true fiction as usually mild mannered people lose all sense of civility stockpiling dunny paper, sanitiser and tinned food awaiting some biological Armageddon. Last time this happened was to the Y2K bug if you can remember back that far.

But seriously, this is quickly becoming one of the greatest public health crisis in a generation, especially for the most vulnerable in our community. It has already become an economic crisis rivalling the 1987 crash. And  while the more recent GFC crash of 2008 was sparked by a fiscal virus in the finance sector, this virus will affect every single sector in the economy because businesses don’t function without employees and customers. Sure, globalisation brings the world together, but clearly it also makes us so incredibly vulnerable.

So, 2020 is set to be a historic year. Here are 5 thoughts on how to face a global health crisis.

1. Don’t stockpile – Hysteria fuelled doomsday prepping is not only irrational but downright selfish. To stockpile leaves some with too much and many with too little. Stockpiling says my needs are more important than yours. So, keep calm and shop normally.

2. Speak hope – What kind of voice will we have in this time? Do we echo the panic and feed the fear, or can we be people that bring consolation, hope and reassurance? People with a Jesus-perspective have every reason to see life, suffering and even death in an entirely different way. Lean into that hope and liberally share it around.

3. Love thy neighbour –Jesus habitually disregarded the social consequences of contact with infected and unwell people. And over the last 2000 years of plagues and epidemics it has typically been His Church that has stayed and selflessly served their communities when everyone else fled. We should be wise in terms of hygiene but equally be selfless and courageous like our forebears.

So regularly check in on your neighbours. Look to serve those especially vulnerable like the frail and aged in your community who may need to avoid public exposure. Shop for them, take out their bins, phone them and just make sure that they are ok. If you are a part of a church community, work with your leadership to formulate a broader response by the church for its community. Our communities need churches to lead the way in loving and serving.

4.Embrace the global Sabbath – As the world goes into quarantine mode with cancellations, suspensions and self-isolation - this unique time in history does offer us the gift of the ancient spiritual practice of silence and solitude. This doesn't mean binging Netflix Zombie films and endlessly surfing Facebook for more misinformation. Rather, it is an opportunity to take stock, to simplify, rediscover rest, read and pray.

5. Talk about it – Lastly, this is fuel for great spiritual conversations about life and faith. What are we really afraid of? Why is life so fragile? What really is important in life? How do I order my priorities? So instead of obsessing over what is happening, the why behind the what is a brilliant alternative to explore with people.

World War C brings a strong dose of reality to our carefully constructed worlds. It awakens some primal emotions in us all and exposes the truth that we are not in control after all. We will all be affected by this. May we do it well.