CS Lewis and Thoughts About The COVID-19 Virus
By Hope For The Caregiver
My wife tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. She spiked a fever and the heavy congestion caused breathing difficulties. While in the ER, I asked her, “Are you scared.”
“Yes,:” she replied, “But I’ve been through worse.
Indeed she has.
How do we as a country live with this craziness? A friend sent this essay from CS Lewis where Lewis discussed living in the atomic age. While the vast majority living today have no reference to NOT living with nuclear weapons, there was a time when the “newness” of that threat caused great angst. With his customary wisdom, Lewis spoke great and reassuring truth to those concerns.
Because we don’t view “The atomic age” in the same way other viewed in 1948, i took the liberty to insert “COVID-19” after each reference to atom bombs and the atomic threat. I’ve read enough of Lewis to state with a reasonable amount of certainty, that he would probably do the same if faced with this virus.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic (COVID-19) age ?”
I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb (COVID-19) was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb (COVID-19), let that bomb (COVID-19) when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs (COVID-19). They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
— C.S. Lewis “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essay
Good words in 1948. Good words in 2020. My wife is improving using common sense and following sound medical advice. We fully expect Gracie to recover …and I am working hard to stay well. In the meantime, you will find us doing “…sensible and human things.”
The country will improve by doing the same.
Peter Rosenberger is host of the national radio program, HOPE FOR THE CAREGIVER. He’s cared for his wife, Gracie, for 34 years.