When my wife and I were about to be married in 1976, I commissioned a talented Kentucky wildlife artist, Jon Henson, who happens to by my nephew, to paint a tiger, my fiancée’s favorite animal, as a wedding gift. At the time, Jon, about fifteen or sixteen years old, had already created some remarkable pieces of art. When I offered my request, he said, “Well, I usually paint ducks and geese, but I’ll give it whirl.” He did so and I am in awe of the image to this day. It hangs above my desk as we speak, stalking my every move. Isn’t it amazing how a great work of art can inspire one to truly appreciate many of the common things in life
I was touched several months ago learning of Nadia, a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo and the first animal in North America to contract the Covid-19 virus. It’s important to keep our facts straight. Covid-19 is a recent strain of a viral pathogen that has been around a long time. The human plague we call the common cold is from a Coronavirus strain as is the new Covid-19 virus with all its variants and countless other strains affecting both humans and animals.
So we have always known that tigers can kill a person. Here and now, it’s the other way around. People can kill tigers with their Covid disease. In fact, according to a report on January 27, 2021 from XINHUANET.com, a seventeen-year-old Siberian tiger called Nastasja, kept at the Boras Zoo in southwestern Sweden was euthanized due to Covid-19, the infection having spread from a zoo employee attending the animals. Also another tiger and a group of lions in the same building have shown symptoms with at least two other confirmed cases.
True enough, the Bronx Zoo tiger, Nadia, recovered as have several others but that is not the point. Tigers and Lions are majestic creatures as are the other species in the animal kingdom. But do you know who else is majestic? You are, and every member of your family. I am and all the members of my family. Project that globally. Humans, the proverbial caretakers of all the animals, are truly as majestic as all other mammals.
In Genesis 1, verse 27, the Bible claims that we humans are made in the image of God, the Creator of all. Yet, look what Covid-19 has done to us. As of right now, March 8, 2021, Covid has claimed the lives of over 2-and-a-half million people since it started the Summer of 2019. The United States has lost over 520 thousand lives since our first death in early 2020. Who is to blame? That’s likely an inappropriate question with no good answer, but we humans like assess blame. We could blame God, which is usually referred to as an “act of God.” But blaming the Creator does the created no good in assessing blame since we created beings are perpetually at the Creator’s disposal. We are powerless to change that.
We can blame the Coronavirus, which is as futile as trying to blame God. The virus is just doing what it was created to do which is to hang on to life anyway it can. It’s too bad that the virus fulfills that role by planting itself into the bodies of humans and animals, many of which will die. So, maybe no one is to blame. No one can be held accountable to the existence of Covid-19, though that has been tried but without any real validation.
What we humans can be blamed for, though, is not following the guidance of the people who understand how to exist in a pandemic. Doctors, scientists, and those who specialize in learning what things to do and not to do to keep the spread of Covid-19 at bay, to limit the number of cases and therefore to limit the number of deaths. If we willfully choose to not listen to them, we who cause more spread and more deaths are to blame.
We are almost there. With three vaccines, we are so close to being immune to that which can kills. Let’s do everything we can to make it happen quicker. Let’s listen to the specialists. That means not only must we hear them, but heed their admonition to do the hard things to keep Covid from spreading.
When I look up at my tiger on the wall, I would be devastated if someone were to take a knife to that canvas and destroy the image. If I can keep that from ever happening, I would do it. There’s not a whole lot of difference in that and quelling the Coronavirus pandemic.
Bye for now!