Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a teatray in the sky
— Lewis Carroll, as sung by the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland
Are we having fun yet?
I bet the bat alleged to be at the root of the global coronavirus crisis is getting the last laugh now — wherever its spirit flies.
It certainly seems that much of the human population of Planet Earth has rushed down a rabbit hole in the past week or so, doesn’t it?
Could Lewis Carroll have imagined that people would be fighting over toilet paper in blind fear of a virus that, for most, seems to be more bark than bite.
The collective madness sweeping parts of the globe brings to mind another fairy tale character, Chicken Little.
“The sky is falling!”
I am not downplaying the severity of COVID-19. People, mostly elderly, are dying from the disease. They make up a small percentage of those contracting the virus.
But the flu kills a lot of elderly people every year, too — with no ensuing tugs of war over toilet paper.
Trevor Noah put it in perspective on the Daily Show last night: Some 5,000 people have died around the world from COVID-19 (since that poor bat met his end in a meat market in Wuhan). Every day, some 3,000 people die in traffic accidents around the world.
Why aren’t people panicking over that? How is it we shrug that off?
The coronavirus situation is all about fear of worst-case scenarios — and “an abundance of caution,” as so many political leaders have been putting it in the past few days.
But, encouragingly, already it appears that the majority of people who come down with COVID-19 make speedy recoveries.
Still, the sky is falling for society in many parts of the world.
School’s out for students and staff. Markets have crashed, the economy is reeling. New terms are trending: self-isolation, social distancing. And most everybody is doing what mom always told them to do: wash your hands.
You know there will be books written and movies made. Storyline: One person slays a bat . . . and all hell breaks loose.
So what, dear reader, will be the moral of the story?
Leave bats alone?
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated 3,000 people die in traffic accidents every day in the United States. In fact, as the corrected version now says, the “3,000” is a global figure.