Covid-19 – May humanity not be BAU when it’s over

I woke up this morning to a brilliantly-written news article by the editor and managing director of The Statesman, Mr Ravindra Kumar, that was reproduced in our local papers today. He makes a strong case for people all over the world to learn from our current collective experience of Covid-19, and to do things differently henceforth.

To be clear, this pandemic really isn’t a new thing, though for the generation now living through it, no one would dare say this aloud without receiving derisive looks from many faces, now literally and figuratively masked by fear and anxiety. This, even as people all over the world grapple clumsily with the increased isolation & stress from having to remain home as much as possible.

Any cursory search online would show that there were far worst experiences of a similar nature in the history of mankind. Each took the lives of at least 1 million people.

And that’s just the reported cases!

There was the Great Irish Famine (1845-49) that took away 1 million lives in Ireland; the Asian Flu Pandemic (1956-58) that killed 2 million; and the Black Death in Europe, Africa and Asia (1346-53) that took the lives of at least 75 million (though the numbers might have been 3 times more).

Just to name a few.

In each of these (and several others), the crisis easily lasted for more than a year! So there’s every reason now for each of us on this increasingly-fragile planet to be mentally prepared to hunker down and live with this coronovirus for a long time still, maybe even accepting it as part of our daily lives.

A new norm as it were.

But Mr Kumar in his excellent piece spoke viscerally that if things revert to “business as usual” (BAU) when the dust settles, then we would have missed a golden opportunity to look within and examine ourselves, and to learn from this experience to change for the better.

For me, I strongly believe that the first place to start is to have a heart-to-heart conversation with ourselves.

For that, we need to use these enforced alone times to examine our lives and to see if there are areas that need some ‘housekeeping’. Perhaps a broken relationship in our families that needs mending? A relook or rediscovery of how we see ourselves, others and the world at large, or just our immediate neighbourhood, that maybe we’ve never considered before? The chance to nourish our minds with readings that we’ve wanted to catch up with yet never had the time?

That is, until now.

However my concern is that more people will just end up spending even more time than before staring at screens throughout the day and night, on the pretext of work-related matters during official hours, and recreation to de-compress thereafter. And the next day, rinse and repeat.

In truth, I think all that would be more a case of people avoiding to do the hard work of self-reflection and examination. And believe me, it’s hard work! I’m still uprooting a lot of stuff about myself these last two years (while being a stay home dad) that I have trouble facing up to! I guess that’s primarily why I’ve started writing and blogging again.

And the best part, or more correctly the worse part, of this whole excessive screen time phenomenon, is that there’s now even more stuff online to hold our attention, including blogs like mine (my sincere apologies if it has actually succeeded in holding your attention up to this point when you might be, oh I don’t know, cleaning out your closet!).

Without self-discipline, willpower, or even the belief that one needs to ration one’s screen time, it’s basically a no-holds bar situation. Many streaming services are already capitalising on this, including porn sites! Offering heavily discounted and even free access to their content, there’s really very little now that stands in the way of folks and a virtual “good time“. Oh and puhleese, just to be clear (in case you’re wondering), no I don’t check out those sites. I read OF their opportunistic offerings on mainstream media, like everyone else does.

Anyway, I can only hope that people everywhere will prove my concern about excessive screen times, and Mr Kumar’s less-than-veiled cynicism about BAU, misplaced.

Meanwhile, I’m going to waste no time in continuing to palpate the unexpected gifts of these precious isolation moments with myself, and my wife and kids. Heck, haven’t these past two years been my “on-the-job-training” for just such a time as this?!

And of course, through my writing here, I hope to keep figuring out what the signs of these times mean, so as to share my gleanings whenever I can, especially if they have universal appeal and application to help us all get through this (often) less than perfect life.

So until my next blog, sanitise your hands regularly; wear a surgical mask whenever you can; and stay at least one metre apart physically (but please not mentally, emotionally nor spiritually) alright?

And stay fit and healthy both indoors, and if legally possible, out!

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