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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

World War C

American actor Brad Pitt starred in the 2013 apocalyptic film “World War Z,” an action horror movie about a global zombie pandemic. A zombie is a fictional dead body, killed and reanimated by a virus that then controls the corpse as it goes on searching for living humans to infect.

The horror that the world is going through now, with the COVID-19 global pandemic, is not (yet?) as dramatic and apocalyptic as the movie. But we are dreadfully experiencing close shades of the conditions in the movie — a worldwide viral infection, gripping fear, the lockdown of cities and countries, massive exodus to the provinces, our way of life in disarray, and a world on the brink of a standstill. The World War C conditions we are currently experiencing, however, is worse than those presented in “World War Z,” in one aspect. The Z virus (zombie) makes its carrier grotesquely visible, giving healthy humans a warning sign to stay away. The C virus (COVID-19) stealthily uses its human carrier to spread itself for 14 days before it manifests its presence by making its host visibly sick. By then, the virus has spread to many more people.

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The lessons brought by COVID-19 should be clear: We will not survive this pandemic if we only look after ourselves and our families, and countries shouldn’t go back to the path of prosperity at the heartless expense of poor nations. The virus does not respect wealth, because it has infected even the rich. It does not fear the borders of powerful nations, because it’s spreading even in countries with mighty armies. In other words, the pandemic has exposed the inanities and myopia of the way of life that humankind has taken.

The pandemic exposes the narrow-mindedness of countries that advocate health services only for those who can afford it, like what’s happening in the United States, and of governments like ours that has drastically reduced its health budget. It exposes the folly of affluent countries that spend billions on military weapons, but leave research and development of drugs to private enterprises, even while incidents of deadly outbreaks are increasing.

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The current pandemic should not be a struggle that must be fought by individual persons, solitary countries, or a particular race. What we are experiencing is a virtual war waged against all of humanity. It therefore calls for a concerted global response. Tragically, instead of fostering global cooperation, the pandemic is driving countries to extreme fits of isolationism, racial prejudice, and selfish hoarding.

Unless countries are planning on permanently becoming hermit kingdoms, the virus will continue to invade all nations because of the inevitable flow of tourists, business, goods, and refugees.

The pandemic should also call attention to similarly serious humanity problems, constantly increasing in gravity, that beset all people regardless of border, color, and creed.

Climate change and ocean pollution, for instance, affect all countries in many insidious ways—powerful typhoons, wildfires, extreme heat, flooding of coastal areas, the mass extinction of flora and fauna, and destruction of marine life. Many of the world’s political leaders lack the imagination to visualize climate change and ocean pollution as virtual colossal monsters that spawn the equivalent of giant viruses causing mass killings, the massive destruction of wide swaths of communities worldwide, and hunger.

Another set of problems for mankind is the increasing number of oppressive regimes that commit crimes against humanity, and the exploitative support for governments that engender mass poverty. The exodus to the neighboring countries of Western Europe, North America, and Asia by political and economic refugees from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South and Central America and Myanmar, and even the diaspora of poor Filipinos, should illustrate that the political and economic repression in particular countries are problems that will affect and must concern all of humanity.

The occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic presents to us a chance to reboot our lives. Either we continue on the road to extinction, or we join the global community in ensuring the survival of the human race.

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TAGS: COVID-19, Flea Market of Ideas, Joel Ruiz Butuyan
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