Living in COVID times
Rarely in human history has an invisible pathogen had so much publicity.The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives and livelihoods. Some 12 months after its declaration by the WHO, COVID-19 has left over 105 million people infected and more than 2 million dead, around 450,000 of these in the USA alone. Australia has been fortunate. We are an island, our leaders have listened to and largely acted on the science, and our population responded.
Leon Piterman may be a general practitioner by training but he is a philosopher, healer and humanitarian by nature. In Living in COVID Times Leon takes us on a fascinating journey in time and also perspectives. He helps us to look from every angle at the experience of living through the extraordinary events of the 2020 pandemic as they unfolded. Leon explores our individual and shared experience with compassion, wit and wisdom. It would be hard to read this book without feeling both better informed about the pandemic, but also comforted and inspired. These are the kinds of stories we will proudly share with coming generations one day when we try to communicate what it was like to live through these 'unprecedented times'.
Associate Professor Craig Hassed
As one of the world’s leading GP educators and a practising GP with extensive mental health experience, Leon Piterman insights span the everyday experiences of individuals, their fears, and concerns, through to the ethics of the unprecedented political and public health pandemics
Dr Grant Blashki, Lead Clinical Advisor, Beyond Blue
…read this book. It will allay your fears because it reveals how self-aware, alert and compassionate doctors must strive to be.
Phillip Siggins The Weekend Australian
In terms of plagues, it seems appropriate, in the context of COVID-19, to examine the 10 plagues, emphasised if not celebrated in the Haggadah and their influence on shifting the balance of power in Egypt, and the potential for COVID-19 to bring about a shift in political power and social transformation in this country and elsewhere.
There is no doubt that the Pharaohs and Egypt benefitted economically from the 400 years of Hebrew slavery, if indeed that period lasted so long. One can understand the unwillingness of Ramesses II to part with free labour. No different to the experience in the American South or our exploitation of cheap labour in Bangladesh or elsewhere. So when Moses turns up waving his rod demanding the release of some 600,000 or more slaves and their families, threatening to bring God sanctioned disaster upon Egypt if the demand is not met, it is hardly surprising that he is treated with scorn and derision. The magic trick of turning his rod into a serpent did not impress. Many historians, archeologists and other scholars treat Moses as a mythical character, but even so this does not diminish the significance and the symbolism of the myth, nor the importance of freedom from slavery. I would posit that slavery may not always be externally imposed. We may be slaves to our own fears, beliefs and habits. In the midst of COVID-19, fear is certainly enslaving many of us.
However, I want to focus on the nature of the 10 plagues and test their veracity in terms of contemporary knowledge and then examine their impact on Egyptian leadership and life in Egypt in comparison to other well documented plagues, as well as that of COVID-19.
Reading the Haggadah, one is left with the impression that these so-called plagues, occurred sequentially over a relatively short period of time, brought Ramesses II and the leadership to its knees until they finally let the Hebrews go. Even going along with the myth, this is highly unlikely.
The Bible tells us that Moses lived to 120 years then died on Mount Nebo in view of the Promised Land. We are told that the Hebrews wandered in the desert for 40 years, so Moses was 80 when this nomadic journey began. His first attempt at convincing Pharaoh occurred he was around 40, so there was a long period between the first attempt and the final response. Ramesses II reigned for 67 years so there was a lengthy period of interaction between Moses and Ramesses, at least 40 years. During this time it is quite likely that many environmental, ecological and medical disasters may have occurred which were interpreted by the Egyptians as punishments from their own gods not Yahve. Moses may simply have turned up after the event and said “Nu, I told you so.”