2nd January, 2021
By F. F. Shaba
Let us be frank with ourselves, is there anything to indeed be happy about on the 1st of January 2021? Come on, I am sure some will be thinking I am an ingrate for the gift of life! But come to think of it, do we actually have control over it? In my opinion, the answer is No!
Our minds have been so poisoned that if something does not positively or negatively affect us or our immediate family, we feel less concerned. The year 2020 has been one of the most challenging years for the world in general. The carnage 2020 brought to the world will live with us for a long time. Fathers and mothers have been snatched from their children; wives from their husbands and children from their parents. The devastation the pandemic has caused is unimaginable, and the world is still counting its loss.
Barely 12 months ago, no one saw the destruction that was to befall the world, not even a single religious leader could predict that the world will be in total lockdown and places of worship will become desolate. The slogan of building the largest auditorium in the world suddenly became old fashioned; we all scamper for our phones and tablets to hook up to service and a place of healing and miracle now share the same rules with every other business venture: you must wear a mask, keep a safe distance, not interact with people outside your bubbles and so on. This man made virus has changed the way we work, eat, interact and do things.
I sat down in the evening of the last day of 2020 to review macro events and shook my head! We have left behind things that are fundamental to humanity and pursue ephemeral things. The purpose and essence of humanity on earth has so long been distorted-we all now pursue nothing but wealth and can go to any length to make this happen.
However, this is the very first time everyone will be treated the same as the pandemic does not know the difference between a president, General Overseer or a common man. We now see those we placed in high esteem and even thought were initially untouchable and invisible, being taught the lessons from the Corona Virus’s Book; world presidents have been in and out of Intensive Care Units; the world has been brought to its knees!
Consequently, it is weird to notice still that some people have not learned from the pandemic. Most of the crossover services were filled with promises of great things God will do in the lives of congregation. Suddenly the 2-3 hours service made us forget about the pandemic but when we look to our left and right and discover the closest person to us is 2 meters away from us and fully kitted in mask, it is foolhardy not to face reality.
Special thanksgiving and offerings were even collected in most of those services to ‘buy’God’s protection against the pandemic. In some places of worship, special anointing oils were sold for protection against the virus! At the end of the service, we all came back to face reality: wash your hands, cover the face, make space!
The new year should be a period of reflection for all of us, believers and atheists alike. One thing we should learn from this pandemic is no one is sure of what will happen next. The pandemic has shown us we all chase shadows; it has made the crave for wealth an insane undertaking as we do not even know who is next to be infected by it. Those who have legally or illegally acquired wealth could not even travel to ‘enjoy’ their spoils; private jets now became birds’ nest at the airports…we are once reminded all is nothing but vanity!
If things continue the way it is, the future looks bleak. With the second wave and new variant of COVID, we should all face reality and see how we can help one another. 2021 should be a year individual, secular and religious organisations take social responsibility more seriously than ever before. The world is in turmoil, and we should collectively join hands to make an impact. Let us not forget that 99.99% of the promises given to us during the cross over night end within the walls of the worship centres. The reality out there cannot be ignored.
While we celebrate being alive, we should know that we have done nothing special to make us different from those who are dead or in the hospitals, we are all on the same queue, theirs only came before ours…no one will live here forever! Therefore, someone should please spare the rhetoric of a happy new year!
Felix Shaba (PhD) is a researcher and policy advisor