''The worst of times, the best of times''
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 25, 2020 - 12:00am

The first line of Charles Dickens’ immortal novel "A Tale of Two Cities" reads: "These are the best of times and the worst of times, a time of wisdom and a time of foolishness” and so on and so forth. It tells of the cities of Paris and London from the viewpoint of Dr. Manette who was just released from prison in the Bastille.

Nowadays, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we can aptly say that these are the worst of times. The whole world is on quarantine. Movements are controlled. People are dying all over the globe. Work is suspended. Classes have stopped. People are inside their homes. Cities and provinces are on lockdown. The economy is at a standstill. Transport and travels have been stopped. The production of goods and services have been stopped too. Soon, hunger and riots may erupt and the whole nation may be in chaos and conflagration. I shudder to even imagine the consequences.

My partial and unofficial count shows that Italy's confirmed COVID-19 cases indicated only three in the first week, 152 in the second week, 1,036 in the third week, 6,362 in the fourth week, and 21,157 in the fifth week. Iran had only two in the first week, 43 in the second week, 245 in the third week, 4,747 in the fourth week, and 12,729 in the fifth week. The number of fatalities in Italy is already 3,400, exceeding that of China itself. In Iran today, one person dies every 10 minutes. These figures are bound to increase in geometric proportions in the next days and weeks. This is the worst virus that ever hit humanity. It is much more destructive than Ebola and H1N1.

It is projected by some prophets of doom that after a year, a billion or almost one third of the world's total population shall have perished. As of today, more than 10,000 have already died worldwide. China and Italy by this time have now more than 4,000 each. The USA is not doing well, and our neighbors, Japan and South Korea are also hit badly. Our own record is not very bad. We are coping quite well compared to the rest of Asia and the Pacific. But I am afraid that the economy will suffer much. Unemployment will increase exponentially and many families will go hungry.

These indeed are the worst of times. But on deeper reflection, this can also be the best of times. Families are together and are bonding, having breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. This has never happened before as everyone leaves very early and arrives late at night. There is a time to pray together, clean the house together, do gardening, exercise, and catch up on each other. We watch Netflix and read books together, while listening to nice instrumentals by Richard Clayderman. Also, each of us has a private time to reflect, ponder, and contemplate. For me, I am writing a Labor Law Reviewer and a Pre-Week Guide for Law graduates who are taking the Bar Exams come November. Not a single moment is wasted.

If we have a strong faith and a personal relationship with God, even the worst of times can yield the best of times. We can find meaning and enjoy each moment, by the power of our mind and imagination.


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