The “Invisible Enemy” of the Coronavirus Pandemic


Gustav Hall

The effects of the Coronavirus have been, without a doubt, frightening. In an attempt to slow the spread of the virus and mitigate its damage, governments have been calling on their citizens to practice “social distancing”. As a result, schools have been forced into e-learning, many restaurants have been asked to only provide take-out or close completely, and all social events and large gatherings have been canceled or postponed. Subsequently, many people have been looking at this situation as an “inconvenience”. 

`The truth is, however, that those who can look at this as merely an “inconvenience” should feel, in many ways, extremely blessed. For countless individuals, the Coronavirus pandemic has cost more than just “in-person classes” and “social events”. Vast amounts of Americans during this crisis are homeless (leaving them at extreme risk for contracting the virus), will lose their jobs, can’t afford basic necessities, or can’t afford healthcare. For many, this crisis means life or death (and not just in terms of their health). 

Possibly the scariest part of this whole situation is that there is no tangible enemy. When we go to war, we know exactly who and what we are fighting. When we witness political campaigns, candidates can physically see their opponents on the debate stage. With the Coronavirus Pandemic, there is no enemy; there is only “nature”. The issue with the enemy being “nature” is that, essentially, there can be no definitive way of assuring that this never happens again. Yes, China should have done a better job of containing the virus before it spread. Yes, the US could have implemented stricter policies before we got to this level of extreme chaos. However, there is no way of predicting what “nature” will throw at us. If it wasn’t Covid-19 that ripped through the floodgates, there would have been some other virus, with even more potential for spread, that would have come about. 

There is no way to control “nature”, as it is the ultimate equalizer of all humans. Herman Melville once wrote, “who ain’t a slave?”. When it comes to nature’s will, we are all its subordinates. Thus, there is nothing we can do to ensure that this never happens again. Whether it be 1 year, 100 years, or 1000 years from now, nature will eventually concoct a disease that can break through whatever defenses we have in place. The only thing we can hope to do is learn from our mishandling of the Coronavirus Pandemic. This will happen again, there is no denying that. However, when it does, will we be prepared?