First Horseman of the Apocalypse

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. (Rev 6:8)

Since January 2020, the  world has been living in a kind of emergency state – because Corona-19 has begun its victory march from Asia all over the good, old Europe.

   No one will deny that it is a great tragedy for the humankind, and, for now, everyone lives in fear – because of the possibility of illness or even death of our closest ones, as well as because of our own death. Still, there are several points which I found very interesting in this tragic and dangerous situation.

  Of course, Corona-19 is probably not the first horseman, still, it is going forth conquering. So, it might be the first, very small horseman of the Apocalypses. Mostly because it reminds people how powerless we are and that in the real world we control nothing, just our illusion of control. Few days ago, in a conversation with a wise man I recalled the end of Vonnegut’s Cat’s Craddle, a different part but, I think, this fits the situation as well:

“In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.”

And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. 

“What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely. 

“Everything must have a purpose?” asked God. 

“Certainly,” said man. 

“Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God. And He went away.”

Yes, of course, we try to give some purpose to everything, and, in most cases, there is none. So we demand a purpose, or try to make one on our own. Some people find it hard to accept the terms of recommended self-isolation, and try to make a party, calling it “Feast in the times of plague”. (I reckon, these are the ones who have enough free time to reread Decameron). Some people are so afraid of the virus, that they let themselves panic, try not to go out for weeks and empty the shelves in shops and supermarkets. Some are complaining about being locked in the same room with their families, while working from home (of course, it is hard, especially, if you have children in your family). And there are also some who warn others about the danger, but act to the contrary – it is also a psychological phenomenon.

   As for me, I am amid those who are worried about their relatives and beloved ones. Not so much worried about  myself, because death will haunt you anyway and anywhere – for those, who really have lots of time, I can recommend watching a beautiful movie about dealing with death in the times of plague – Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergmann (it is still my favourite movie, I still watch it at least once a year).
Ilze Jansone for PIXIE Won't Play magazine issue "First Horseman of the Apocalypse" scene from movie "The Seventh Seal"
  I do not have free time for reading or watching online concerts, operas or movies – I’ve lots to do, probably, because at least, I have a whole day, not only short moments of the day for things which I find most important in my life – writing, reflecting, reading, editing and translating texts, and so on.

  I do think that this is the time when we can re-evaluate our values. Slow coffee in the morning with our beloved ones. The opportunity not to run around from meeting to meeting and talking with people we do not always find interesting. The opportunity to reflect on essential things – such as death, love and that we actually are just small worms in the face of the universe, not the kings and queens of it.

  Also, after all this – the first small horseman has probably arrived, and maybe it is even not a horseman, just an ambassador. But the world will never be the same. The economy won’t be the same. Our habits and our values, and our priorities will change – the time will tell, but I do not think that we will become more clever. The best scenario is, we shall probably evaluate working from home, and probably for a short time we won’t be running around like headless chickens. Will we also evaluate the nature as a precious resource for all and stop destroying it? I doubt it. Will the crisis kill small businesses? Absolutely. But we shall see. And, I am convinced that, we’re not ready for this brave new world as we were not ready for the ambassador of the first horseman.
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