In the last couple of weeks, many people, friends, and strangers asked me what do I think about COVID-19, how deep it would affect us, and how should we react.
I had a lot of work lately, and just now I found some time, so I will be short. Take a look at the picture – figurines of a Roman legion in a battle formation. You might say “It is 2020 now, and these legionaries marched some two thousand years ago!”. But I chose this picture quite deliberately. Have a closer look – everyone standing on the right place of the formation, and all of them acting like one. Probably their leader lined them before the battle and was honest to them – they would face a fierce enemy, and some of them will lose their lives. But he also reminded them that if they hesitate and disrupt the battle formation, then the losses would be much more significant. And after the serious talk, he might have approached the soldiers and allowed a few jokes. Maybe someone, with a worried voice said that there were rumors that at least 50,000 of them would lose their lives. But the leader joked back - “yesterday you were unable to count your 300-sestertii salary, when did you learn to count to fifty thousand!”. And they all laughed together.
Let’s go back to 2020 now. Our society, even if it looks more colourful and disorganized than the Roman legions, is very optimized. Everybody living on the earth has found their right place in the world and is doing what is best for them and the society. And we are all dependent on everyone else. And one more thing - in the Roman army, you relied on your fellows - the ones in front of you, the ones on your flanks, and the ones guarding your back – a few people that you knew by name. In our legion, every one of us depends daily on hundreds, even thousands of strangers working all over the world. We don’t know who bakes our bread, who is milling our flour, and who is harvesting our wheat. But we start each day knowing that, as always, someone somewhere will take care of our daily bread. We are blacksmiths, builders, shoemakers, miners, and carpenters, but we don’t know or care who will use the products of our work, as long we get paid for it.
Today, we are facing an inevitable battle, the same as the Roman legionaries did 2,000 years ago. We hear the voices telling us that some of us will lose their lives, and we are ready to stand behind closed doors, to close our roads, to hide. But we are missing the voice that could tell us that we are not immortal anyway; that we are humans; that every one of us will face death at some point; that this year, as every year, hundred millions of us will die, regardless of our choice - to fight with pride or to die as cowards; that the losses will be more significant if we break our battle formation and hide instead.
We are blacksmiths, builders, shoemakers, miners, and carpenters, not cowards. Every one of us that is lucky enough to wake up tomorrow must go on and do what they are born to do. That’s how 97% of us will be victorious. Otherwise, we are all going to become slaves - we will lose our jobs and most of what we have achieved so far.