‘Beware the Ides of March,’ the soothsayer warns Julius Caesar. Perhaps we should too. One year ago, the Ides of March, the ancient Roman name for 15th March, marked the beginning of lockdown in France. With a grimdetermination, we locked ourselves down, put on our masks, sanitised our hands and stopped seeing friends and all but our closest families. Somehow, we were sure our small sacrifices would ensure our survival.
Julius Caesar believed he need not worry too much about the soothsayer’s warning. But on 15th March in the year 44 B.C., he was stabbed to death for treason.
Over the past year, 118 million people have been infected with coronavirus, and 2.6 million have died. The Ides of March 2021 bring a warning of continuing infection, uncertainty as regards governmental and social strategy as we all grow tired of the monotony of living with the pandemic; meanwhile new variants are running wild throughout the world.
Nevertheless, vaccines exist and slowly our populations are being inoculated. We can begin to see a way out. But, like the Roman empire after the death of Julius Caesar, we are at a crossroads: for them, it was the choice between the populist Marc Antony and his strong-arm tactics, or the idealistic Brutus and the rule of the people. For us, it is the choice between the return to the old normal, with its known imperfections and comforting certainties, or the construction of a new, fairer, less polluting and more equitable world. I know what my preference is but I am not sure to have the courage to enact change.
|Grim determination||Détermination inébranlable|