Coronavirus vs Human

The two most potent forces that run the jungle are hunger and sex. The modern human is no different from animals except that animals only kill when hungry or threatened and indulge in seasonal sex. The modern human is fighting obesity and failing to find love inspite of multiple partners. Even after millions of years of evolution and technological advancement, humans continue to die by large numbers due to hunger, epidemics and violence. A good number of people fear that the world will end due to some natural calamity or interstellar activity and many blockbuster Hollywood movies have portrayed that day to their advantage. But there is enough evidence to indicate that the danger is not from outside but inside. Infact the planet is under no threat. The human race is.

The recent outbreak of COVID-19, undoubtedly the biggest crisis of our lifetime, has led many to believe the same. It is a new virus and capable of passing easily from person to person indicating a high transmission rate. Countries and governments are fiercely trying to contain the spread in a connected world where countless people undertake travel for business, education and pleasure. Each infected person becomes a host and can further infect many more resulting in mass infections in a small period. Many nations have sealed their borders failing to realize that their attention is better spent taking measures that actually work to prevent the spread of disease. Scientists are already working on a vaccine, but the likelihood of a good vaccine is atleast 12 to 18 months from now. To make matters worse there’s widespread seasonal flu activity going on right now in many countries around the world.

India’s conventional vulnerability of the already fragile healthcare system, large population and a worrisome fact that India expends a measly 1.28% of its GDP on health care are suggestive of unimaginable challenges ahead. The country has a poor culture of testing, and most people with flu symptoms do not go to doctors and instead try home remedies or alternative therapies. ICMR has justified low testing by quoting panic spread, home quarantine and insufficient proof of a community spread. WHO’s suggestion was written off by ICMR Director as “Premature”. Since this kind of pandemic is unprecedented the leadership is clueless. A number of preventive recommendations have been made but the compliance depends entirely on the willingness of general public and health officials to follow them. Precious time has already been lost in trusting people with self quarantine. The recent upsetting display by Indian people, in many parts of the country, just after the “Janta Curfew” has left many doubts about the way this nation will be affected by the virus. And further upsetting is the fact that most of these people were educated and aware. It was unsettling to see them burst out on the streets, after just a 14 hour lockdown, like the champagne out of a bottle. Completely unaware, those people were playing a relay race with the virus as a baton.   

No country would like to remotely experience what China, Italy, Iran and many other countries have been through. But countries like Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore have set forth the model to be followed by others. Though it may be premature to say that they have successfully contained the outbreak as suggested by the demographical analysis of the cases on the basis of gender, age and habits, there are crash courses to be taken by studying the model. The virus cannot exchange information but countries can. All it requires is a spirit of global solidarity and well coordinated global effort.  The governments are picking tactics like lock down, mass testing, halt of transportation and a few developed countries are promising to offer financial aids to businesses and individuals who are likely to suffer from the predator virus. The only question everyone’s asking is; when will it end? This too shall pass but it will change our lives forever. It is almost absolutely certain that we won’t be able to completely eradicate the virus and may have to live with it. Life changing decisions are being made in the blink of an eye. Most people may work from home and communicate only at a distance. Education may become online. In normal times all these things may have been unimaginable. But these aren’t normal times.  In a moment of disaster, decisions can modify quickly.

Safe distancing the human race from the deadly virus may require complete community lock down for unknown periods of time which may lead to progressive decline in physical, mental and financial health. All of this is inevitable until a vaccine or cure is available; and that appears to be a distant solution. Humanity is toe to toe with a deadly virus, almost a life and death situation, bringing out the best and the worst. In the days to follow, we should trust scientific data and WHO’s advice more than speculative conspiracy theories and crafty politicians. Sensational responses that make big news usually give false hope that ultimately backfires in the times of social media and internet. At the end of this there will be many lessons to be learnt but for now the only sane advice to follow is coming from WHO for the governments and individuals. “Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all.” 

Mrs. Gurbax Rawat is a consecutively elected Councilor and an Ex-Deputy Mayor of Chandigarh.

7 sins

COVID-19 came out of nowhere and disrupted our world showing us that our way of life is fragile and can change at any moment. The basic narratives of society, government and world governing bodies have become questionable. The virus has been a great myth-buster, making it clear that it will be impossible to slide back into arrangements that existed before. What was true in January this year may not hold ground henceforth; the US is not great anymore, physical touch is no more a great love language, eating pork or beef isn’t an issue, self-proclaimed spiritual gurus, astrologers and mystics are less than ordinary, not daring to make any statement.

Ever since the outbreak experts have been ignored and instead we hear arguments filled with fallacious reasoning. In most countries public perception is managed by venom-spitting news anchors who have little idea of journalism.

A lot has been said about a novel lifestyle that each one of us must adopt during and post the pandemic.

In the fourth century, the Church identified seven deadly sins; failings of character that were to be particularly condemned and avoided by all righteous people. What began as a tea time conversation with my niece eventually made both of us both reflect that life could become more blissful by simply maneuvering past the 7 deadly sins. Behavior we call sinful is never simply that. It represents an unfortunate first response to difficulty and distress that could be guided, forgiven and redirected towards nobler ends. Let us first understand what these 7 deadly sins are.

These are Pride, Envy, Wrath (getting very angry), Gluttony (eating too much), Lust (seeking sexual pleasures), Sloth (being lazy) and Greed. These were perceived to be severe faults of the soul that marked out a person, on the Day of Judgment, to be deserving of tortured bits of Purgatory. We may not use precisely such traditional, theological words today but our interpretation of such failings of character tends to retain a damning attitude. 

Let’s consider the seven sins and how to nullify them, as knowing is never enough.

Pride – We end up boasting because we’re so pleased with ourselves although this is a response to a feeling of inferiority and invisibility. We feel that others will think less of us unless we assert our greatness. That is why, of all people, the proud don’t need to be told they are terrible; because they know it already. Capability and humility must go hand in hand allowing the attitude of service.

Envy – Envy is a disgraceful way of confronting the idea that we are imperfect and need improvement. Envy should, ideally, be our teacher. We should note when it strikes us, sift through its signals and use them to work out our direction and purpose. The solution isn’t to feel guilty about our envy attacks but to understand what is missing from our lives.

Wrath – The mean things we say when we’re upset are almost never truly meant. They are the result of panic and anxiety. We call someone a stupid fool because we want to criminalize a person before forgiving him/her. Patience and developing interpersonal skills help in understanding the other’s personality type and perspective before acting or speaking.

Gluttony – We eat too many chicken wings and grilled sandwiches not because we’re greedy, but because we are emotionally starved. We want love far more than we want calories; we’re just at loss as to how to find it. Looking good followed by feeling good is a prerequisite to being good. The body must be treated like a temple making one fit to serve others.

Lust – A few want to keep jumping into bed with people not out of immorality, but because they are lonely. Sex is our epitome of connection and acceptance. The so-called ‘bad’ and erotic things some crave feel so exciting because they read them as proofs of someone else’s affection and acceptance of us. Lust displays lack of honor and self-esteem and therefore self-control must be exercised for one to be able to enjoy the goodness of life.

Sloth – Laziness is actually fear of failure. We might not succeed or we might find a task too hard, we may realize we’re not yet equipped to undertake it. These are understandable anxieties. We will begin when the fear of doing nothing at all trumps the crippling fear of doing something badly. A life full of zeal inspires philanthropy by placing the interest of others above all.

Greed – The powerful urge to take more than our fair share is really a reaction to a feeling of deprivation; we’ve felt so neglected and vulnerable, we require ever more. Our fear is so entrenched that we’re trying to keep it at bay by grabbing as much as we can, as quickly as possible. A charitable and generous nature is helpful and fuels the desire to share. Hoarding beyond need is a big sin.

Through trial and error we may have learnt to manipulate our wrongdoings but we seldom comprehend the implications of such manipulations. We need to locate our true vulnerabilities and encourage our self for reform with delicacy and humility. The solutions must appeal to our common sense which, unfortunately in many cases, are laying surrendered with pseudo spiritual cult gurus who constantly feed garbage to their followers. We must realize that we aren’t evil, so much as in a lot of pain in millions of permutations and combinations of LIFE.