The Viral Virus

covid-19, coronavirus, social distance

My insights on COVID so far…

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A couple of weeks ago, travelling on the underground, I stared in disbelief at the spectacle of a couple of Chinese commuters with masks over their faces, in London, I thought? Absurd!?

Fast forward a few weeks, and commuters, whether in London, New York or Paris are filled with growing anxiety as to how to protect themselves from the potentially deadly spread of the Coronavirus, and sales of face masks are rising steadily.

What began in Wuhan in China, a place that few of us have heard of let alone ever visited, has now earned daily awareness in our lives. With 37,000 people, worldwide affected, and the death toll at over 800 spread to 24 countries across East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America – and it’s still rising, and spreading.

The main strategy to prevent the continued spread is isolation, quarantine, and the curtailment of movement.

This highlights how interconnected we have become. A British businessman managed to pass on the virus to no less than eleven people in two different countries without ever stepping foot in the epicentre in China. From a business conference in Singapore, to tourists while on holiday in the French Alps, to his local Pub on his return home and to the medical staff at his doctor’s surgery when he was eventually diagnosed, and quarantined.

One of the greatest transformations between the world that was, and the world we live in today, is the transformation from living a shtetl existence, isolated and cut off from the world around us, only being affected by and having an effect on those amongst whom we lived. By contrast today we are part of a global village. The coronavirus has put into stark relief the negatives of such a situation, along with the spread of unsavoury political extremes, financial crises and so on. What happens in one country will sooner rather than later impact a population on the other side of the world.

It’s easy to forget the positives of the flip side to this new reality of globalisation.  Businesses can tap worldwide revenue potential, the ability to help more people through charity, technology, religion, medicine, to have greater access to worldwide talent to drive innovations and discoveries forward faster and more successfully, gaining greater understanding of other cultures and so on. This presents us with a tremendous opportunity to have a positive impact and make a lasting contribution and effect on humanity as a whole.

Chris Rosati was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 yet despite the debilitating nature of his illness he was determined to dedicate himself to performing acts of kindness for others.

He was especially fascinated by the butterfly effect, a small occurrence that snowballs and results in larger, unexpected occurrences. Chris tested his theory in real life. Chris headed to a local diner and gave two random girls $50 each, along with the request to do something good with the money. He left the diner and forgot all about it — until he received an email with an attached photo of a village in Africa. In the photo, smiling people held handmade signs that read, “Thanks a lot for spreading kindness, Chris Rosati.” The village had recently become free of the Ebola disease, so the girls decided to pay for a celebration for everyone in the village to enjoy. The butterfly effect had indeed spread across the world. This was just the first of many butterfly initiatives by Chris who remarkably inspired thousands of children to spread kindness around the world.

So, as the spread of the coronavirus gives us a visual reminder as to how small and interconnected we are, remember too that we also have an opportunity now to have a positive and meaningful impact and contribute in a myriad of ways to the human race worldwide.

Published by Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch

Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch is currently the Senior Rabbi in Woodside Park Synagogue – a modern orthodox thriving community of some 1,400 members. His innate love for people and his empowering brand of leadership make him a well-loved figure in Woodside Park & London.

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