The Covid 19 virus claims an American life roughly every 9.5 minutes. Today or tomorrow more than 10,000 will have succumbed to the virus.
That’s a lot of death whose tentacles reach out across a wide spectrum of Americans with grief and other tragic consequences. There’s no way to minimize, much less rationalize, the personal and community harm this deadly virus has inflicted and will continue to inflict upon America.
But with the specter (and fear) of death lingering over the American landscape, there is a need for a world view perspective about the ravages, and, yes, the unfairness of death.
One in four children in Africa will not reach the age of 15 and one in ten will be claimed by death before the age of five.
In 2018, UNICEF reported that an estimate 6.5 million children worldwide died before the age of 15—or roughly 1 child every five seconds. An estimated 5.4 million of these children died before the age of five with newborns representing half of those deaths.
Worse yet, UNICEF reported that 56 million children under the age of five will die before 2030 with half of them being newborns.
80 percent of the 2017 child deaths occurred in two regions of the world: sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
These children died from lack of access to clean water, sanitation, proper nutrition and basic health services—conditions that are incubators for bacteria, disease, viruses, and a host of other causes of death.
If a child was dying every five seconds in America, would we call it a pandemic?
There is no fair or reasonable answer to this question, especially in a time when a “virus crisis” is crippling the nation.
But it should create a pause for perspective.
Covid 19 is lethal, no doubt about that – but it is the fear the virus produces that is worse than the prospect of death itself. The virus kills in a slow, gripping, crippling sort of way—one can only hope that the supply of morphine is readily available to ease the process of death. “Comfort care,” it is called.
Still, in the back of my mind, there lingers the image of a child—bloated stomach, skin and bones, and worse, eyes that are vacant and lost—to put this “crisis” in perspective. The sub-Saharan African mother will indescribably grieve over the passing of her child, and for all the pre-death misery the child endured. And no one will call it a crisis.
None of us will get out of this world alive.
But, with so many images and stories of death surrounding us as we isolate in the comfort of our homes, a little perspective is in order.
We’re not the only ones suffering from the rigors of death.