Our ancestors were storytellers. Very few people throughout the centuries of human existence could read or write, so lessons were taught through stories. And the most useful stories were repeated and embellished over time.
One such story describes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death. These four embodiments of human disaster were seen as the “perfect storm” of tragedy. If all of these archetypes were present at once, the theory was, that would be enough to bring down humanity.
This wasn’t really meant at first to be so much a prediction as a cautionary tale. Why? Because one can so easily lead to another. Look at our present situation.
Pestilence is looming large over the world at the moment with scientists scrambling to find a cure for a new disease. Whether you take the latest Coronavirus seriously or not, deaths in the US from January through April were approximately 170,000 higher than the average for those months in the past decade. That’s just a fact. So Death is also paying us a visit.
So far, we have not experienced severe food shortages, but many of our citizens are needing to resort to handouts from food banks to feed their children. That’s Famine perking slyly around the corner.
Acts of brutality abound as people of color are attacked and killed by vigilantes and police with little justice so far, leading to countrywide rioting. And our president has taken to quoting reviled racists, saying “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” and retweeting “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”
Do we really want to invite War to the table? Now more than ever, we need to dig deep within us to find the compassion and kindness to support the hungry and oppressed and take a stand against corruption and hate-mongering. “United we stand” has to be more than just a patriotic motto.