Ruminations on ‘The Ides of March’

At school, despite the fact that I often failed the exams, I loved learning Latin. A history buff even then, I delighted in Roman history which I was luckily quite good at and made up for in grades. I love the Ides of March. The Ides is the 15th of March, May, July and October in the Roman calendar – for the other months it was actually the 13th of the month. It’s an interesting date because it is know as the day Caesar was murdered in the Roman Senate. Then, as now, March is a month of festivals in Rome – during the Imperial period Rome hosted religious festivals during March.

In terms of the Ides of March this year, we have had to live through serious bush fires that were followed by floods and now we have the spread of Covid-19. The news this weekend has been full of politicians et al with travel restrictions and health warnings.

Anyone who has had a Christian upbrining will recognise the portents of the biblical apocalypse. You could be forgiven for looking at things currently happening in a very dark and pessimistic way. Yet, over the past 100 years the human race has survived many nasty times periods – two world wars, flu pandemics, the cold war (nuclear destruction) ebola virus, SARs etc. etc. So I’m convinced that we are not about to go up in flames as a race or even as a planet – at least nor for a while yet. Unless of course there is a comet I’m not aware of but let’s not buy trouble.

Still, here we are at the Ides of March and we have all these things that are roiling around making people afraid and stressed. In an effort to learn as much as I can I look to scientific research of which there is much creditable information available on the internet. What I have found are many calm voices out there who say that Covid-19 is a virus that will likely affect many of us. But unless we have immune issues, lung or heart problems, especially if we are elderly with those issues, we will likely survive it.

It makes me wonder about the factor that the media play in the worry and panic Covid-19 has engendered. The whole toilet paper debacle in Australia for example. The media have a social contract to provide information to the public. But I worry about the veracity of information provided by much of the world media. The 24 hour news cycle needs constant hype to keep it going and what better to work into a frenzy than a new and infectious virus.

I’m not saying that we should sit back and do nothing. Follow the advice and wash hands, sneeze and cough responsibly and isolate if necessary. However, it seems many have the virus with few or very mild symptoms – and it’s becoming clear that children between 0-9 may not be badly affected – there seems to have been no recorded deaths from the virus in that age group. And for those who are diagnosed (i.e. tested) there are many out here that have it but don’t know and will not know because symptoms can be quite mild. They are only different to the flu or common cold in that they start with a sore throat and a cough and fever (most often).

I do find the whole news hype not only annoying but misleading. Many, but not all, of the newspapers and television news seem to provide snippets with dire warnings that do nothing to provide the truth. They focus on the places where things seems to be worse without putting it into context of population profiles. They extrapolate this to put out the worst possible scenario.

So, like I suspect many people, I sit at my computer and find reputable science articles that provide a calm and reassuring explanation. Yes, I might get Covid-19 and I may be unwell. Yes, there are currently no vaccine nor drugs (anti-virals or otherwise) to treat it. But the virus has been sequenced (in Australia first), and organisations both academic/research and private are working toward finding a treatment.

It will not be the end of the world. We will be sad if we are one of the few who are badly affected by this virus, or we have a relative or friend who is. But the annual flu round is also coming and is hayfever and the common cold. And the last of these has no treatment either.

So for this Ides of March, I choose to be calm, take useful precautions and thank my lucky stars I’m living in 2020 and not 100BCE where there were no treatments for the horrible plagues that afflicted the world – ones much, much worse than Covid-19.

As a side note, last Friday was the 13th of March – what we think of as a Black Friday these days. Now I’m not really superstitious but I often remark that I really must be a witch because I always seem to have good luck on any Friday 13th. I have no problem when black cats cross my path either (chuckley quietly). This Friday was no exception. Several pieces of good new from insurance companies and repairs on our scorched house made it a great day.

So may calm and peace reward you with a strong immunce system.

Author: C.M. Sheely

C. M. Sheely began life in the cold climes of Europe, emigrated to sunny Australia at an early age, spent time in the Royal Australian Navy, worked all over Australia and South-East Asia as a construction project manager, travelled around the world and ended up as an IT geek in Canberra. She and husband Michael finally settled down in paradise on the South Coast of NSW and for Cat, semi-retirement. She still gets a buzz from PM-ing IT projects. Otherwise she spends time writing and working with the Eurobodalla Fellowship of Australian Writers Evening Group on writing, editing and e-publishing their collective efforts in the form of novellas. Cat’s had multiple short stories published as well as several professional articles.

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