Thursday, March 30, 2023

Coronavirus Cogitations: What if God is saying…?

Monalisa Changkija

Today is Good Friday. I don’t need to expound its significance to believers of Christ ~ I leave that to the multitude of our Reverends, Pastors, Evangelists, Missionaries and all kinds of Church workers. I (and surely you too) have been getting a lot of stuff on social media, wherein the above-mentioned worthies from across the globe are preaching about why God is punishing us with the novel Coronavirus and what we need to do for God to stop this pestilence from scourging humankind. They seem to know exactly what’s in God mind ~ maybe, they do; we have no way of ascertaining that and I am not getting into this. But I was thinking ~ you see, so far we have been thinking human thoughts, using (and, often not using) human logic.

So, let’s also concede that our thought processes are generally influenced by what we have been told, taught and preached ~ that’s the norm with religion, culture, traditions, etc. So, what if God is saying something totally different from what we assume and presume God is saying vis-à-vis the Coronavirus? What if, through this pandemic, God is saying “Ok, I’m fed-up of you all congregating in the church building, making a show and mockery in my name, creating a ruckus singing and praying on top of your voices and the guy on the pulpit is holding forth non-stop as if he and I grew up together right from our cradle days, as if we are bosom pals and he knows me like the back of his hands. So, ok, you people down on Earth, you stay home, where no one can see you, and pray and worship alone and/or with your family quietly and from the bottom of your heart”. What if God is saying, “I never needed huge church buildings and all other trappings of worldly riches and power ~ that was never my commandments to you. I never needed crowds pouring into Sunday Services and on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas to be worshipped”? I mean, we cannot miss the timing of this pandemic, can we? So, what if God is revealing Himself as what He is and what He wants, at His own time, in His mysterious ways; not what and how we imagine Him to be ~ an angry, revengeful and punishing God; as also, a doting and partial Father only to those who attend all church Services regularly?

I am not sure if I have been able to get across to you because I too am using my human logic and have created God in my own image but I believe that now is not the time to create fear and panic that God is punishing us. Now, I believe, is the time to re-look at God as a loving Father, who knows what He is doing, and leave the whys to Him. Now is the time to renew our faith and trust in God and not worry because He has always been on top of things. Now is the time to know without any doubts that He holds our hands. Now is the time to do a Job. Contradictory as it may sound about doing a Job, now is also the time to realize that all that happens ~ the good, the bad and the ugly ~ are not necessarily God’s making. He has gifted us Free Will, after all ~ so, much of what happens to us are the consequences of us exercising this Free Will. While it is very convenient to attribute our lot in life to God’s will, let us not forget that we do what we want to do, the way we want to do, or don’t, therefore we have to live with the consequences. To my limited understanding, God’s gift of Free Will entails facing consequences and taking responsibility. Action and reaction ~ it’s as simple as that, as far as I am concerned.

Now, if we believe that the Coronavirus pandemic is God’s way of telling us something, or even punishing us, then surely that this pandemic should happen at this season of Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter is also God telling us something and preventing us from attending Services, no? I really didn’t mean to get preachy but sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we may be full of illogicalities but God isn’t. We need to remind ourselves that faith, trust and belief operate on totally different levels from that of the done things, of the socially-accepted things, and even from what we think/believe/imagine God wants us to do. Ultimately, let God judge us for that alone is His prerogative. Yes we can teach and learn to be fishers of men but let us avoid “fishing” men ~ and women. This again is my limited human logic speaking, I concede.

The other day I saw an advertisement issued by our Department of Health and Family Welfare asking out-of-work doctors to apply for job for a period of 12 months. I believe the state Government is doing the right thing ~ seeing how fundamental doctors are in the healthcare delivery system particularly during this pandemic. One hopes that the Government will also employ our out-of-work Nurses ~ there are hundreds of them, I am told. Since doctors and nurses are the very backbone of our healthcare delivery system and they stand at the very front of the front-line workers to fend off and fight the Coronavirus, each doctor and nurse is precious, especially now. Countries after countries, including India, are losing doctors and nurses to the pandemic ~ should it manifest in Nagaland too, we cannot afford to let any one of them to be outside where they are needed i.e. hospitals. Now is the time for our state Government to think outside the box ~ round and square ~ and not worry about government processes and procedures, fund issues and the like because times are such that desperate measures would soon become the normal ~ in fact, the process has already begun, starting with the lockdown.

Also consider that while our Government has solicited voluntary assistance of retired doctors, nurses and lab technicians, etc., this category falls under the age bracket of 60 and above ~ said to be the most vulnerable group to Coronavirus. Besides, quite a few of them may be already afflicted with underlying causes such as Diabetes, etc. So, it makes sense to requisition, so to speak, younger out-of-work doctors and nurses, etc. Already about 60 of our retired doctors and nurses have volunteered and indubitably they are all very enthusiastic to pitch in their assistance but we also have to think of their vulnerability. With their experience and expertise, the Government can make full use of them in an advisory capacity ~ not only during this pandemic but also for policy-making in the future. Foot soldiers are also known to make great Generals.

Normal life continues to be affected ~ to use a very famous media line ~ and things could have been managed better. But who are we to argue with the wisdom of the Government and our administrations? They have their orders to follow and their briefs to execute. So we best stay home, healthy and safe ~ and let them get on with their jobs. You see, this new normal is also transient ~ more new normals will happen and perhaps someday we may look at this lockdown period as the “good ole days”. Despite the threat of the Coronavirus looming large over our heads, we have been gifted with the time to be at home with our families, catch up on things we always wanted to do, dwell on the meaning of life (and death), dwell on the purpose of our lives on Earth, etc., and generally just blank out your mind from the usual cares and concerns of life.

Then again, if you remember going to government offices in the pre-lockdown period, you will remember being frustrated by the absence of a good number of government employees or their presence for only 2 to 3 hours and you had to go back the next and the next days. Now, considering that maximum of our funds from the Centre goes towards paying salaries of the said employees ~ repeatedly informed by our Ministers and bureaucrats over the years ~ leading to depletion of funds for development, this probably means that most people in Nagaland are government employees so they really don’t have much reason to grumble about the lockdown ~ they are hardly at work anyway and their salaries are assured. It is we in the private sector that has every reason to worry and grumble about the lockdown because our incomes are nil right now and not assured in the future. Sure, shortages and scarcity of food affects everyone but more so the cash-less and those with empty-back accounts with no Government assurance to bail us out.

At these times of despondency, for those who believe, there is only one option ~ to believe that it is always darkest before the dawn. Ah, and there’s one more I could think about ~ every dark cloud has a silver lining. If we don’t give up, the universe will not give up on us. So, hold on and do like I do, when I need Pork, I just close my eyes and I see Pork … (with apologies to Leo Sawyer for mutilating his When I Need You).

I hope you are having a Blessed Good Friday.