The World Turns Upside Down

Former Liverpool architect and author of Cancer 4 Me 5
The image of the man with the placard on the busy street declaring “The World is Nigh” is generally used to portray somebody who is delusional. Everybody else in the photo is part of the real world. They are on their way to work, rushing to get to a meeting, looking to buy new shoes or trying to hail a cab. The man with the sign has disconnected himself from reality and his only concern is that people are reading his message.

He is a complete fool. 

Or is he? 

These days I’m not so sure.

The Coronavirus has turned the world as we know it upside down. It has become an Armageddon moment for the entire planet. More Americans have now died from it than were killed in the First World War. 

In recent years I always considered the greatest threat to our planet would be a nuclear bomb. But if one was to explode, only a portion of the world would be affected. We would still have refuge elsewhere. And potentially the world would still recover. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the proof of that. But the Coronavirus is everywhere. There is nowhere in the world to seek refuge. And, as of now, there is nothing to stop it.

We can send a satellite to Mars but a virus has brought our own planet to a shuddering halt.


So instead of something complex like a bomb, a relatively simple virus has brought our entire planet to its knees in a matter of weeks. We now live in a society with no spectator sports, no live music, no foreign vacations, no movie releases, no social gatherings. The world as we have known and loved it, has been turned on its head. 

As well as the greatest threat to human civilisation in living memory however we also seem to have brought the world to the edge all by ourselves. As a collective group of human beings we have never been more divided. Countries that were once the cornerstones of our world now seem less concerned with government for all than with impression, self promotion and political name calling. Media organizations are mistrusted or manipulated. And many previously stable countries are ravaged internally with bitter ethnic and racial division.

The U.S. has more billionaires than any other country in the world, but it also has 40 million people living in poverty. Half a million of them are homeless. Wars, that once used to end, have now just become a permanent state of existence in many countries. Our ice caps are melting. Our oceans are full of plastic. We still have people who are starving or unable to receive medical care. We have people who are trafficked and enslaved and violated. In many parts of the world, life in 2020 is just as brutal as it was in the middle ages.     

18 years ago I got ready to die. I would have been foolish not to. I had just been diagnosed with one of the worst cases of Head & Neck cancer ever seen. I knew my fight would only be as strong as its weakest link. I needed to not be afraid of the possibility that I was likely to die and turn that into a strength. If you are not afraid to die there is nothing left to be afraid of. I could not ignore the elephant in the room. In my case the elephant wasn’t just in the room, he had decided to come over and sit on my lap.

Those thoughts have never crossed my mind ever since. 

Until now. 

18 years later the fragility of life seems to have been laid out before me once again. Only this time it isn’t just me staring into the abyss. There is a collective sensation around the globe that something is happening that is greater than we are. We are not really the ones who are in control. We can send a satellite to Mars but a virus has brought our own planet to a shuddering halt.

And 18 years ago, when I felt the earth was slipping from under my feet, I needed to go somewhere beyond it. It was a moment in life when, if you believe in Him, you turn your thoughts to God. If the world hasn’t got the answers you seek, you have to look elsewhere. If God does exist, these are the moments when He is closest. 

And if you believe in God, you believe He has a greater plan. This world will end and a new one will begin. You therefore also believe, even if by default, that one day He will pull the plug. 

As I look at the world in 2020 I see so many things that are not just out of place, but we also appear to be totally incapable of knowing how to fix them. We seem to be well on our way to presenting God with His best opportunity yet to decide it is surely time for a better plan.  

The man with the placard on the street may well be the one who is right. 

The end of the world, as we know it, is nigh.      

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