Did you know that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned in 2015 a global pandemic was on the way? He also warned that the world was not ready to deal with such a pandemic. He did not specifically predict that a novel (new) coronavirus would start in late 2019 and become a global pandemic. But his warning was nevertheless prophetic because he said the world would have a pandemic sooner rather than later and urged all countries to prepare for it. As we now know, the world was woefully (sadly) unprepared for the novel coronavirus, which started in Wuhan in mainland China and is now ravaging the whole world. Cities across the world have become virtual ghost towns as governments order everyone to stay at home.
The word "prophetic" means saying accurately what will happen in the future. It comes from the word "prophet" which means a person believed to have special powers who tells people about God's messages, especially about things that would happen in the future. Bill Gates is, of course, not a prophet but his warning of a pandemic was prophetic. The word "ravaging" means causing severe and widespread damage. A ghost town does not mean a town full of ghosts! It means a town where most people have left. This can happen when a town's economy is so bad that people can no longer find jobs. They will go elsewhere to find jobs.
When I say cities across the world have become virtual ghost towns, I do not mean people have left. The word "virtual" means "almost" but not completely. People have not left but governments have asked them to stay at home. India has asked the whole country to stay at home for 21 days. The country has become a virtual ghost country. When people in villages, cities, and towns stay at home, the streets are empty and shops are closed. That's why they look like ghost towns. The world today is a sad place but as former US president Barack Obama said: Keep hope alive.
Prophetic一字是指能準確地預言將來會發生的事，它來源於“prophet”一字，意指被認為有特殊能力的先知，得以傳講上帝訊息，尤其是關乎未來會發生的事。比爾．蓋茲當然並非一名先知（prophet），但他對全球大流行疾病的預測卻是先知式的（prophetic）。Ravaging解帶來嚴重及廣泛破壞的。A ghost town可不是指滿是遊魂野鬼的城鎮！它是指一個大部份人都已離開、被廢棄的城鎮。這是有可能發生的，當一個城鎮的經濟太差，人們再不能在城內找到工作的時候，他們便會去別處另覓工作。
當我說世界各地的城市已經頓成virtual ghost towns，我不是指人們都離開了。Virtual一字是指「幾乎」但不完全是。人們並沒有離開，但政府要求他們留在家中。印度已命令全國留在家中，為期二十一天。整個國家已幾乎（virtual）變成鬼國（ghost country）了。當村莊、城市和城鎮的人盡皆留在家中，街道都是空空如也，店舖都已關門，它們因此會變得像鬼城（ghost towns）一般。今天的世界實在令人哀傷，但正如前美國總統巴拉克．奧巴馬所說：要常存希望。中譯：七刻
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧