By John Horvat II
The coronavirus dominates world news, whipping up a hysteria rarely seen in modern times. While the virus has yet to display its full fury, the reaction to it is at a frenzy. There are two spectacles taking place: the coronavirus and the fear of the coronavirus that might be called coronaphobia. At this point, the latter is the most destructive.
People are terrified by the virus since it introduces them to an unknown world. It is a mysterious disease from a faraway totalitarian land. Everyone mistrusts the data coming out of China. The virus’s highly contagious and unpredictable nature adds to the generalised fear. Media hype and images multiply the impact of the disease by sensationalising its every advance.
Thus, coronaphobia is raging all over the world. It has slowed down economies, shaved off trillions of dollars in stock prices, stopped church services and paralysed cities. It is shaping politics as world leaders are put to the test to meet the grave challenge of this contagion.
A Real Threat
Of course, the coronavirus does present real risks. Reasonable measures must be taken. Like all cases of flu, people become sick and die. Those with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable. Its victims tend to be frail people with pre-existing conditions.
However, two factors make this threat different and more terrifying than the flu cases that take tens of thousands of lives yearly. The first is that it can strike quickly and indiscriminately. The second is that there are no vaccines against it. Thus, people sense general helplessness in the face of a tiny virus that is bringing a fragile and interconnected world to its knees.
The Causes of the Fear
No one likes to say it, but what triggers coronaphobia is the Hobbesian fear of death that so haunts the modern mind. Each person sees in a coronavirus death his or her possible death. This paranoiac fear causes demands that every possible means be employed against this remote threat even if they appear excessive. This desperate drama creates conditions in which people will even give up rights and liberties to avoid catching the virus.
Coronaphobia is caused by a society where the enjoyment of life is the supreme value. That is why the full might of the medical establishment must be mobilised with such passion. Everything must be done to prolong the lives of those who still enjoy life and have little thought about the hereafter.
Yet not all life is equally valued in today’s hedonistic culture. The same medical establishment that scrambles to treat coronavirus victims snuffs out thousands of lives daily, through abortion and euthanasia, so that others might free themselves from responsibilities and “enjoy” life.
Living in Denial
Coronaphobia explains why there is so much hype around the issue. In a culture that adores pleasure, life-threatening viruses overwhelm and crush psyches unaccustomed to thinking about death and suffering. People look for any way to escape this unpleasant reality.
To avoid any profound thinking about the virus, people surround it with noise and agitation, in the hope that the din might scare it away. To find quick fixes for the problem, they loudly demand urgent action, even if it flies in the face of commonsense. In their helplessness, they fill themselves with resentment and anger, blaming others for their misfortune.
Fear rules in such circumstances. People will do anything to avoid having to face the crisis alone, in all its seriousness. The festival of hype smothers everything in a frenetic intemperance of collective denial.
There is a cure for coronaphobia. It involves facing reality with all objectivity. People must neither overreact nor minimize the dangers. They must face the virus, calmly and with commonsense, utilising the standard means by which strong flu cases are combated.
Coronaphobia can only be overcome by those who dare to think beyond the pleasures of life. Tragedy invites people to reflect on human mortality and contingency. Inside the silence of reflection, people find meaning and purpose for their sufferings. They find the courage to act effectively, embracing reality, not denying it.
Above all, tragedy leads people to trust in God and His Providence. The limitations of a purely secular society are made patent when tragedies of this sort strike. Humanity is left to its own devices and finds them woefully insufficient. Throughout history, when faced with tribulation, the faithful have had recourse to God and have found solace and aid. That is why the Church has always played such a great role during times of calamity. Instead of prohibiting Church services, authorities should encourage the Church to hold more. This trust is the only sure cure for the devastating coronaphobia that ravages the world.
Originally published on returntoorder.org