Suddenly, no more do you hear the rattle of bullets, nor do you see any Sisyphean clashes in the name of religion or beliefs. All you see is concern for loved ones and prayers for the ones afflicted. The current pandemic has showcased how beauteous humanity really is.
The year 2020 has been terrifying. We never could have anticipated such testing and difficult times. Our everyday lives and activities have come to halt as we battle against a microscopic enemy, who is gnawing at our strength and harmony every second. Entire countries have been locked down, more than 14,000 people have lost their lives, flights and trains have been cancelled and people have been asked to quarantine themselves; scaring us all whether this is the end of the world as we know it. Sir Francis Bacon quoted, “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” And in these dark times, the innate benevolence, unity and resilience of humans have transpired as our gleam of light.
The entire atmos has been engulfed in clouds of dismay and gloom but from different corners of the world we also hear stories of courage, magnanimity and empowerment. Usually, movies depict state of affairs like these as total chaos, people going into frenzy, turning bloodthirsty for survival and so on. Although some people have contributed to mayhem by hoarding sanitizers, toilet papers and other necessary items and by spreading fake news and lies; it is well evident that during such a threatening pandemic we have not descended into anarchy. Videos from countries such as Spain and Italy are being shared in which residents can be seen holding musical concerts and singing to the tunes of famous songs, from their balconies in order to raise each other’s spirits. As the elderly is under the highest risk and advised to be under strict self – isolation, their neighbors, random strangers and numerous people on platforms like Nextdoor app are offering to help them buy groceries, medicines, etc. Many celebrities have also taken up the responsibility of spreading awareness and asking people not to panic. For instance, Ndlovu Youth Choir, a group of young South African singers released a catchy music video to raise awareness of proper hygiene and optimism. Some even have donated to address the supply shortages of necessary goods and to food banks, while others decided to pay for the salaries of certain workers who will be greatly affected by the shutdown. Few celebrities have also come up with unique ways to help out like Josh Gad, the voice behind Olaf from Frozen, has been live streaming himself, reading from his favourite children’s book while Lizzo, an American singer, recently hosted a 30 minute meditation session on Instagram. The coronavirus outbreak has shown that the medical staff, sanitation workers, people running grocery shops, pharmacies and other authorities working day in and day out to aid us are the real heroes of current times, and the masses have recognized and appreciated their selfless service by clapping and beating thalis (steel plates). Another incredible aspect of this turmoil is the encouragement given to all to talk about any mental health issues they are facing, through means of social media and helpline numbers.
Apart from all these positive and consoling instances, cases of hostility and racial discrimination have also been reported from different places. Incidents like a woman at an Australian supermarket allegedly pulled a knife on a man in a confrontation over toilet paper, a Singaporean student of Chinese ethnicity was beaten up on the streets of London, an Asian man was left stranded on a road in Egypt and bullied by the passers – by, and many North – eastern students in Delhi were taunted and called ‘Corona’; are not only infuriating but also show that some of us can stoop so low. This kind of demeanour and attitude is a thousand times more deadly than the virus itself.
Rebecca Solnit, in her book ‘A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster’ (2011) which examines the resiliency of human beings during catastrophic times quoted, “Disaster doesn’t sort us out by preferences; it drags us into emergencies that require we act, and act altruistically, bravely, and with initiative in order to survive or save the neighbors, no matter how we vote or what we do for a living.” We must realize that all of us are dealing with a common enemy. This silent killer has already ruined many lives and families. It is high time that we shun our differences and contribute in whatever capacity to the higher cause of defeating COVID – 19 before it further ravages our lives. We must not let this crisis shatter our dreams and toilings rather use it to bring out the best in us and empower all. In the end, the ‘marvelous’ words of T’Challa from the movie Black Panther are sure to inspire us and must define our future course –
“We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.”
Image Credits – Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images