When I say “work together” I don’t mean that we should all break quarantine, go back to our places of work and share the virus with each other. I mean rather that we should cooperate with each other as much as possible in fighting COVID-19, and one way that we work together is by all observing the guidelines for quarantine and social distancing.
One thing we learn from a pandemic is that we are all in this together. The word “pandemic” literally means “all the people” (from Greek pan meaning “all” and demos meaning “people”). It’s called a pandemic when everyone is in danger of getting sick.
That means that everyone plays a part in overcoming this virus. Doctors are doing everything they can with whatever resources they have, but they can’t do this alone. We see this in the effect of quarantines. The virus is spreading through the population. If 30 percent of the people stay at home it will hardly slow the virus at all. It will quickly spread through the 70 percent who are out in public, and from them it will spread even to most of those who stayed at home. But if 90 percent of the people stay at home the number of new infections will immediately begin to drop and the spread of the virus will slow to a crawl. So if “all the people” work together by working apart and staying away from each other, we can overcome this pandemic.
We want to be healthy, and one definition of health is when all parts of the body are functioning properly together. If your heart isn’t working, or your lungs, or liver, kidneys, pancreas, thyroid glands, or nervous system isn’t working, it’s not healthy and you may die. If everything is working well, you are healthy, and even if you catch the coronavirus, you will probably survive, and you may not have any symptoms at all.
When a virus infects the body, it has no power to multiply on its own. It spreads through the body by turning the body against itself by forcing the body’s own cells to make copies of the virus. When the body is healthy—all parts working—the white blood cells produce antibodies that identify and mark the viruses, which the white blood cells can then clean up. The white blood cells, though, depend on the red blood cells to supply oxygen, which they get from the lungs. The blood also supplies proteins and energy, which come from the digestive system. The blood can’t move around without the heart, and it can’t get rid of waste products without the liver and kidneys.
The human race as a whole is like one person, and the virus spreads from individual to individual through that grand human almost the way it spreads from cell to cell within the body.
A community resembles an individual, and those who belong to it make up as it were a single body, with mutual differences like those of the parts of the body. The Lord, and by His guidance the angels, on looking down to the earth see a whole community in the form of a single person, whose appearance depends upon what its members are like. (Swedenborg, True Christianity 412)
Paul talks about this concept in the Bible:
There are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary…. There should be no schism in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:20-26)
During this pandemic, we don’t have the luxury of saying, “This is China’s problem. We don’t need the Chinese,” or “This disease just affects old people. Young people don’t have to worry about it.” Everyone needs to work together. We need doctors and nurses. We need scientists, researchers, and engineers. We need grocers and truck drivers. We need the grandmas that sew face masks and the medical companies that supply respirators. And we need the people who just stay home and try not to get sick, or if they get sick, try to get well and not spread it.
The word “religion” literally means “reconnection.” The whole point of religion is for us to reconnect with each other and with God, to bring the world together for cooperation and healing. During this coronavirus crisis, we need more than ever to work together—even while we stay apart—for the good of the whole human race that we all belong to.
What else can we do to fight the coronavirus? Check out Dealing with Coronavirus #2.