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The Commander of the Great Coup

The Commander of the Great Coup

Monday, 25 May, 2020 - 09:15
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Our neighbor has forgotten that we live in a world that saw the rise of the coronavirus killer.

For the first time since the pandemic, her son will pay her a visit. During the first days, she feared that fate would be quicker than this encounter. She made the necessary arrangements and did not hesitate to prepare some of her son’s favorite food. She put on a joyful dress to erase the gloom of clouds and waited.

The long-awaited young man appeared on time. He stood in the garden and called the woman, who was counting the minutes. She almost hurled towards him. Suddenly, she received a categorical warning. The son raised his hand, warning and reminding her of the mask and the gloves.

The message was sufficient to deter the threatening tenderness. There must be no hug in the presence of coronavirus. The exchange of kisses is more dangerous than that of stabs.

Safety is the priority and every excitement is deferred. Thus, the close encounter becomes similar to a remote meeting. The pleasures of the senses should be replaced with less risky enjoyment that does not irritate the epidemic.

The mother, overwhelmed with pre-epidemic feelings, said that she had prepared for the visitor a meal that he had been addicted to when he was at home.

On a mother’s tenderness scale, gifting a meal made with love is a thousand times better than a flower bouquet that anyone can offer.

Disappointment crept into the face of the mother when the son apologized, considering that the only solution to resisting COVID-19 is strict adherence to safety conditions and to borders similar to severing relations between human beings.

Scenes at the public park facts are no less expressive. A man walking in your direction turns suddenly away as if approaching you is a trap.

There is no solution other than distancing. They say that one might get used to isolation… We are undoubtedly going to live in a world unlike the one we had been blessed with more than three months ago.

Restaurants will be different. Travel will be tiring and fraught with anxiety. We will not be relieved until a trusted party declares that laboratories have produced a vaccine that will save the world from the pandemic.

We have been lamenting the past old days. We are now aware of the importance of the little pleasures that are disappearing before our eyes. My friend called me and talked with regret about the beautiful arenas that were filled with tourists and pigeons.

I was a little worried because it was the first time that I felt my friend was more concerned with past memories than with signs of the future.

I am a little afraid when I think that I have no friend other than old memories. But I prefer not to be overly sad. And not to despair too much. And not to over-clap.

I prefer not to give in too much to an idea, a chant, or an epidemic. I have a feeling that humanity lies in keeping the window open.

After counting his pains, my friend said something that grabbed my attention. He said he entered his library and spent hours digging for exciting books that could help him overcome the long dark hours since the outbreak of the virus.

He added that during his search he sensed the futility of things. I asked him to explain. He said: There are books in the library that were written by leaders, officials, thinkers, researchers, and professors. The common theme is the state of the world and the dream to change it. On the other side of the library are works by novelists, poets, and critics who, in turn, tried to break the world’s secrets or make it less brutal. What they have in common is their attempt to highlight the importance of imagination and feelings in the hope of humanizing the impulsive world running towards profit, innovation, mud, and blood.

My friend said that he almost felt that he had wasted years of his life reading those who had not succeeded in changing the world. Suddenly, you find yourself in front of a scientist, who emerged when the virus struck.

The most prominent names that rocked the last century are present on the shelves of the library. Lenin, Stalin, and their heirs. Gentlemen, who successively ran the White House. And those who occupied the offices of Churchill or Charles de Gaulle… This is without forgetting Mao’s heirs and what they have done to their country and now to the world. Add to these a handful of figures, who were considered to have changed the world forever, but then their delusions were exposed… Guevara, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and others. People, who have been given the titles of thinkers and writers, who considered that they shook the century and left distinct marks. They were all defeated by a single virus that in a few weeks changed the world they were unable to change.

The world has really changed. One cannot count how many times he has heard the following expressions: Economic meltdown. High and unprecedented unemployment rates. Inevitable tourism catastrophe. A disastrous scene in the aviation sector. Many countries hurry to knock on the doors of the International Monetary Fund. Countries and companies must forget their previous lifestyle.

Priorities must be reviewed at the public and personal levels, without forgetting isolation measures, epicenters, and the race to finding a vaccine, betting on selling masks and the daily death rates.

It is an undeniable defeat. We discovered the fragility of the Earth on which we stand. It is a defeat of the size of the cosmic village.

No laboratories anticipated. No armies have resisted. And no fleets survived. An enormous black cloud has cast its shadow on our days... The earth devoured many coffins and is still hungry for more…

No one has changed the world like COVID-19, the commander of the great coup, did. We will bend to his black will, waiting for a laboratory to kill it with a vaccine.

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