woensdag, maart 25, 2020


With the corona virus occupying everybody’s mind, I had to think back to Nigeria in 1954. I was there with an international Moral Re-Armament team and I got infected with the polio virus. At that point the polio virus was more or less unknown and no vaccine was available. I heard then that in those days doctors assumed that everyone in Nigeria got infected as a child. Some died, some got partially paralyzed, others become immune for the rest of their lives in a natural way, what we now call a wall of immunity. Nowadays nearly the entire world population gets inoculated against polio and thanks to this it is nearly non-existent. The problem now is that nobody knows how long immunity lasts for someone who has been infected with the corona virus. Possibly only for a year.

As far as I know I was one of two foreigners who got infected in Port Harcourt in 1954. One, a catholic priest, died, the other, me, survived but remained disabled as both my legs were partially paralyzed.

That is why the corona occupies my mind especially. Will I, 66 years on, be hit again by a virus for which there is no vaccine? Where in 1954 at the age of 25 I was an exception to be infected by polio at that age, now in 2020, at the age of 91, I belong to the risk category.

But it does not prevent me sleeping. To me it is a miracle that despite my handicap I reached the age of 91 and I more or less count on dying through a virus or some other cause. One never knows when the day comes and what then the cause will be, but once passed 90 one takes it more into account. I do hope that if something happens to someone in my family, it will be my turn before my two children and four grandchildren.

Today, March 2020, the plague of the corona virus has made an incredible impression on the whole world. Where only a month ago experts assumed that the virus would be restricted to China, now our own country and Europe in its entirety are almost paralyzed. Nothing like this has happened since World War II. Then many events like church services continued, now all gatherings are cancelled and forbidden. Despite the immense achievements in science, society and the economy we are flabbergasted. We listen to the experts, government bases its policy on that advice and calls for us to do the same, but the experts themselves indicate they are searching, that they know many things, but that there is much more that they do not know and that they have no vaccine or medication available, nor enough personnel, ic-beds and equipment.

All of this forces us to rethink our society, what serves and what should be handled differently. That process has only just started, but we need to continue till we find something new. The churches say we should pray more together. Others put their trust more in their own intelligence, meditation, intuition. All of that will be needed. But above all we will need to learn to listen more. To each other, to what God and our conscience tell us. Can we take time for that every day, to write down our thoughts and flashes of inspiration and – after testing them – put them into practice. What is it I can do today to push society a bit in the right direction, to support and help others, individually or where possible together with others?

A new era is in front of us. What will it be? What can be my part in it?

Aad Burger 

2020, March 25