Coronavirus Crisis Response Reminiscent of ‘Wartime Spirit,’ Says Former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
The former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks compared the challenge of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic to World War II during an interview with the BBC on Thursday.
Lord Sacks — who is now one of the most celebrated Jewish thinkers worldwide — told the British public broadcaster that the current period of human history would be similarly remembered to the conflict between the Allied and Axis powers in the middle of the last century.
“We will never forget this period, the way people never forgot the Second World War,” Sacks remarked, “I didn’t know how my parents kept remembering that war as if that was such a vivid moment in their lives, but they did because when you do face a danger, and you face it together with lots of other people it becomes incredibly vivid and personality shaping in terms of your memory.”
Sacks added that, in his view, the pandemic was “going to change every one of us.”
He continued: “And hard, though, it is to say so and see it today, we will look back and say, ‘We emerged as better people as a result of this.'”
Asked about the conflict between basic civil liberties and the “social distancing” measures imposed by the authorities, Sacks replied that Western countries would have to undergo some soul-searching.
“We’ve had too much individualism, too much liberal democracy, and too little concern for the collective of the nation, and of humanity as a whole,” Sacks said. “We have talked far too much about rights, and far too little about responsibilities.”
Sacks noted that the crisis so far had shown “people being willing to handle their responsibilities.”
“Young people are preparing to deliver medicines to people in need,” Sacks said. “It’s a little like the wartime spirit.”