[Opinion] May you live in Interesting Times: An Ancient Chinese Curse

[Opinion] May you live in Interesting Times: An Ancient Chinese Curse

The world woke up one day to be greeted by a virus which caused so much grief and panic to countries and the globe.

The virus is so deadly that many would have wished to welcome and combat with aliens from another planet than a virus as tiny as a droplet that killed a lot in their numbers.

Unfortunately, we heard of the virus from far distant lands of Wuhan, Italy, United States of America, etc where the virus was said to kill millions of people. Indeed, we are living in interesting times and there is the need for us to act accordingly. Some of the interesting statements which many will not forget after the pandemic is over are “We are not in ordinary times”, “We are not in normal times”. Many speeches, addresses and adverts by Presidents and celebrities of the world echo this statement: “We are not in normal times.”

But there is a purported ancient Chinese curse that seeks to encourage and give us an antidote in these interesting times.  The ancient Chinese curse is May you live in interesting times.

How can someone be told to live in interesting times whiles all things and phenomena point to the fact that we are not in normal times? Can this be the real paradox that life usually presents us with? This Chinese curse should give us the Aha moment so that we can laugh and go about the new normal in these interesting and not normal times. There is the need for the world to live in interesting times despite the ravaging nature of the pandemic. This is the time for us to find consolation in the ancient Chinese curse.

For some this is unattainable but for those who always see the bright and positive sides of alarming occurrences, this is an opportunity for them to shine in the midst of the darkness. Yes! We should ask so many questions and do a lot of thinking about ourselves, our countries and the globe. The whole world should sit at one table and discuss that which can sustain the world’s solidarity rather than inflaming fears, panicking, stigmatization, and other ills that kill more than the virus.

Unfortunately, many claim that the origin of the virus is Wuhan (a city in China). Although the virus is from China, there is a ‘proposed solution’ from the same source or origin of the virus.

The virus claimed many lives in the city of Wuhan and it became one of the fertile epicenters of the Coronavirus in the world.

Can the people of Wuhan be told to live in interesting times whiles their families and friends were slaughtered by the virus? It seems illogical and a contradiction in terms that the same source that provides us with the virus also provides us with the solution in the form of a curse i.e. May you live in interesting times. An ancient curse now admonishes us to embrace a recent happening and make good of it.

Many were also said to look into the crystal ball and predicted the virus. Famous among them are Nostradamus (a French astrologer and a reputed seer) and the wide read Dean Koontz who in his book (novel and a Suspense Thriller), The Eyes of Darkness captures the phenomena of the virus.

Some few lines are “If I understand you, the Chinese could use Wuhan-400 to wipe out a city or a country,…”, “And Wuhan-400 has other, equally important advantages over most biological agents. For one thing, you can become an infectious carrier only four hours after coming into contact with the virus. That’s an incredibly short incubation period.

Once infected, no one lives more than twenty-four hours. Most die in twelve. It’s worse than the Ebola virus in Africa – infinitely worse. Wuhan-400’s kill-rate is one hundred percent. No one is supposed to survive.” (Dean Koontz, 1981, p. 311)

Most people think this 1981 Suspense Thriller, The Eyes of Darkness has predicted the pandemic. In fact, as I read this book from the beginning to the end, I was not so much convinced about the so-called prediction of Dean Koontz.

Although it is not a prediction from the author, many have used craftily this novel to trigger the crystal ball of the virus. Even if this a true prediction, why can’t we live this maze of not normal times as if it is an interesting time? Think about it!

There is always a remedy when the world is in chaos or turned upside down. For us in these times which are not normal, the ancient Chinese curse gives us a remedy, May you live in interesting times. Confucius a Chinese philosopher and politician also said that “Sometimes you have to let life turn you upside down, so you can learn how to live, right side up.”

Indeed, the novel Coronavirus has turned the whole world upside down but we are poised by varied hopes and confidence that we will rise like the phoenix from the ashes of the pandemic.

The whole world looks up to Wuhan a city in China as the origin of the Coronavirus. Interestingly, it is from the same China that sages stir the hope of recovery of the world, ourselves in these axioms that: May you live in interesting times- An ancient Chinese curse. Another Chinese, Confucius’ words are quite paradoxical but soothing that “Sometimes you have to let life turn you upside down, so you can learn how to live, right side up.” There is always hope for the world in these interesting times.

Source: Michael Selasi Combey

 

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