The outbreak of novel coronavirus has created a catastrophic situation around the world. Humankind is no stranger to dreadful outbreaks of diseases; however, this is one of a kind we all are witnessing. Without any visa or legal documents, this virus has succeeded in crossing various borders affecting individuals from various corners of the world and leading to a global lockdown. The year 2020 is surely going down in history books and we all are a part of it. Till now we must have only studied or casually imagined what wars and other crisis would have been like, but only when it has come upon us, we really understand its enormity.
While I write this blog today, my thoughts are with all those who are battling the virus, with the families of all victims around the world, and also with doctors, paramedics, health officials, police force and everyone else who have put their lives at risk for the rest of us. I praise people from the bottom of my heart for their mature response in this face of the crunch. Their support is helping all institutions to work in a coordinated manner to fight the outbreak. Our healthcare system, leadership and administration have shown great vehemence and proficiency in meeting this extraordinary and evolving challenge. I strongly believe that together we will survive this storm.
The outburst of this deadly virus has forced us to keep a considerate distance from others. Words like quarantine, social distancing and self-isolation have always existed, but it’s the first time we have understood their meaning. This isolation, self-imposed or medically commanded, is a perfect opportunity to contemplate on our journey so far and the future path as human beings. It’s an ideal time to decipher what nature has been telling us through this calamity.
We all belong to the same race. We are humans first.
Yes, this is one of the biggest lessons the virus is teaching us everyday. We have been in denial from ages but this microbe has showed us that regardless of our gender, religion or ethnicity, we all belong to the same race of humanity and what affects and abates one human being affects and abates all of us. Nature is telling us in a harsh way that we all are equal. While the world has been busy drawing divisions and waging wars, this new virus strikes beyond any kind of manmade distinctions of religion, race and region. And we suddenly realise that in such grave situation of mortal threat, we have just one identity – we are human beings.
Little fear is good
Fear can be dangerous as it can paralyze our mind, repress our growth, and lead to destructive habits. But at times fear can be positive and helpful as in the case of COVID-19. It is no secret that the virus has developed a great amount of fear among individuals of all backgrounds and cultures. People are increasingly afraid to assemble, travel, attend public events, and even send their children to school. But the more we fear for what will be in the future, the more we learn to appreciate all that we have today. Tempestuous times like these, teach us that life is so vulnerable, that certainties are so uncertain, and that material achievements are so ephemeral. Trepidation prevents us from falling into an impasse state, and opens our eyes to all good treasures that we may have been too numb to notice.
Respect Mother Nature
Respect for nature may be the next big and an imperative lesson for us. We humans are the only living species that has overpowered all other animals, taken control of the whole planet, even set our foot on the Moon and now we stand mortified by a microorganism. We almost forgot the fact that at the end of the day we are merely biological organisms, dependent on other organisms for our survival. Humanity’s craving to control nature and exploit all its resources can be wiped out in a single stroke by an organism we cannot even see with our naked eye. Since the pandemic began few changes have been evident, like, in Venice, the canals have become clear again and dolphins are now swimming within. In cities, people are watching clearer skies, sharper horizon and breathing crisper and cleaner air since the traffic has been noticeably reduced. Our ancestors saw nature as mother, and asked us to respect it but in our greed to grow and develop we forgot ancient wisdom. We failed to notice and realise that when natural calamities are becoming the norm, it’s time to pause and wonder where we lost the way, and how we can still make a comeback. And now the nature has hit the reset button and no one is sure how long Mother Nature might take to retune and recover from the damage we have caused her over centuries.
Think as a community
Another positive, which I feel has come out of this whole situation, is that people are thinking as communities again and not individuals. Housing societies are uniting to put in place measures for the containment of the virus. Companies and organizations are encouraging work from home. There are lessons that we need to learn, and put into practice once we arise from this. Inter-dependency is also something we tend to overlook in normal times. But in challenging times like today, I think we are realizing how deeply each one of us is connected with everybody else. We are safe only when we take care of others’ safety, which includes not only human beings but plants and animals as well. Mostly we tend to be selfish, but this crisis has taught us to think equally of others to a great extent.
Distant working is practical and desirable
This can really help us avoid most unnecessary commuting that contributes to the pollution in our cities. Organizations need to build a trust-based relationship with their employees, rather than a relationship based on assumptions of slacking off. Technology exists and can be leveraged to maximise team interaction. 90% of all physical meetings are a complete waste of time and can be managed effectively via video conferencing or other similar tools provided by our budding technology.
Stay focused on good hygiene
Maintaining good and regular hygiene is never a waste and you can never go wrong with that one. Wash your hands, sanitize, and keep surfaces, homes and surroundings clean. Use a mask when you have a cold or cough. Sneeze into a tissue and dispose it immediately. Cleanliness is next to godliness for some damn reason, which we should never forget. While this time it took us a pandemic to get our housing complexes, public transport like airplanes and trains and public spaces cleaned, disinfected and sanitized, we should definitely be more vigilant, meticulous and consistent about such things in near future. Taking pride in our surroundings shouldn’t just extend to our homes and verandas but suburbs, neighbourhood, cities and the entire nation.
This is again something we forget in our day-to-day life due to our hectic schedules. We have developed this habit of keeping to ourselves, without noticing if there are people around us who might need help. This virus has definitely taught us to be little more considerate, thoughtful and kind. Help the elderly living in your neighborhood with the tasks they find difficult to do. Visiting them once in a while. Helping them with sorting their medication or organizing their meals for a week. Remember, we will all get old and might need help someday.
Make sustainability a lifestyle and not just a watchword.
Cutting down on our consumption and requirements, behaving more of conscious and responsible consumers, buying only what we need and learning to recycle and up cycle should become a way of life. We have, over the centuries, metamorphosed into species marauding the earth and nature to cater our unsustainable lifestyles and we are unquestionably paying the price. Its time we go back to our basics and trim down our demands to keep the earth and its wellbeing at the focus.
Man plans, God Laughs
While we make our own plans in life, we often forget that god too has some plans for us, which unfortunately might not be synchronized. Our personal plans are not always infallible. Sometimes traffic and sometimes a simple phone call rocks our day. But the question that arises here is: how will we respond to such sudden change in our plans? Will we bury ourselves in frustration, or will we learn to accept the hidden consecrations in God’s unannounced plans? The coronavirus has disrupted many of our long term and short term plans, which in turn teaches us one of the most important secrets to happiness. It made clear that true happiness and contentment can only be achieved when we learn to accept these sudden changes even when it interferes with some of our own plans. We may not see the good in such unexpected events, but we must believe that something better is in store and that, one day, we will find it for sure.
Start achieving unity and peace
Sometimes I wonder if all what is happening around us now is real? Why this virus has emerged suddenly and why the whole world is under crisis? What if this virus has come to communicate the message of unity and coexistence in peace? What if this virus wants us to experience what few people in the other part of the world go through and show us that unless we become united and act like a single body, nothing can be solved and the humanity maybe doomed? John F. Kennedy once said, “mankind must put an end to war, before war puts an end to mankind’’ and I think its time to be serious about this. It’s time we start living as a single heart that beats for a single cause. Our aim should not be to become superpower or develop war strategies but focus on harmony, unity and togetherness. We should together strive to achieve equal rights for everyone, because every child is a child regardless of where he/she come from, every mother is a mother regardless of what religion she belongs to, because every human has the right to live and dream. Everything is waste when we don’t even know if we are going to make it for the next day. But one thing is sure, if we succeeded to put an end to this virus along with all the hatred and prejudice then the humanity that we once believed in isn’t yet condemned. The real purpose of this virus entering our lives might not be to slaughter humanity but to wake us up and impart us the greatest lessons of unanimity. That we are all together in this irrespective of our background and unless we unite, nothing can be achieved.
And last, but most important, stay informed, educate yourself on the pandemic.
It’s imperative to know do’s and don’ts in case of an outbreak. We should all try to keep calm and follow what authorities are saying. Also push for accountability and information from authorities if it isn’t coming through. Speak up about what needs to be done and help others if you have the expertise. Reject fake news and ensure that within your circles, there is calm and no sensationalism is being shared. We’re all in this together, and we must all do our bit, no matter how minuscule it may seem.
As scary as this COVID-19 pandemic is, given its rapid spread and mortalities across the world, it’s a wake-up call for each and every soul on this Earth. Its time we stop hitting the snooze button and listen to warnings carefully. As per a famous saying: “We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers of the same garden”, and that must always be in our mind. Let’s hope that we succeed in combatting this virus and put an end with it to every bit of abhorrence and animosity that exists.
Nature is reminding us to recognize our quintessential equality and interdependency. It’s a lesson imparted at a heavy price but will surely come handy in mitigating many global challenges and building a better future. In the meantime, I join each one of you in reasserting our resolution to overcome this crisis at the earliest and much stronger than ever as a nation.