- We should also realize that COVID-19 is a wake-up call, a warning button, for us to change course
- Bad air quality in Wuhan city had been a fertile medium for the propagation of the COVID-19
- What we also need to remember is the importance of retaining the concept of “the family”
On January 21, 2020, when the top story of the news every hour, referred to the spread of the Coronavirus in China with the epicenter in the old city of Wuhan in Hubei Province, majority of the people in the Universe did not attach much attention to the gravity of the spread of the virus, other than perhaps, inter alia, the researchers at the state of the art bio safety P4 laboratory in the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. This Institute was established way back in 1956, after the Cultural Revolution and now affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
As the days passed by, the picture was getting gloomier and gloomier with dark clouds spreading beyond Wuhan at great speed perhaps caused by easy travel around the world due to globalization. The World Health Organization (WHO), kept on issuing daily statements on the spread of the Coronavirus but for some reason fell short of declaring it as a pandemic. On March 11, 2020, long after February 2, 2020, when the first fatality resulting from the virus took place outside China in the Philippines, the WHO finally declared that it was a pandemic.
What has happened has happened. It is sad to witness the human being, with the high and mighty attitude who once boasted of the achievements in development of technology and the master of the universe, is now not only orphan and helpless, but experiencing anxious moments on the ultimate outcome of the economic fallout.
If we ponder on what happened to planet Earth to go into a tail spin suddenly, the needle will no doubt point us, to change our ways and to come into grips with reality and “follow basics” in whatever we do. The cardinal principle in life is that we cannot go wrong, if we honestly follow our “basics”, with integrity, and honesty with a clear conscience. When we speak of basics what comes to my mind is for us to prioritize our “needs” as against our “wants”. Do we not realize that our wants are many but our needs are few? We are all aware that poverty alleviation is one of the world’s biggest crises with ten super-billionaires known to be controlling about 70% of the world’s wealth and resources.
It is sad to witness the human being, with the high and mighty attitude who once boasted of the achievements in development of technology and the master of the universe, is now not only orphan but helpless
At the religious preaching in a Buddhist Temple, at the sermon in the Christian Church, and in the course of Islamic and Hindu preaching, we are always reminded that we come with nothing into this world and take nothing when we depart, yet we foolishly continue to live in extravagance. We drift away towards grandeur ideas of materialism and our thirst is always to selfishly develop materially at all costs without any consideration to nature and/ or ethics and/or morality.
It is time that we change our extravagant lifestyles which can trigger an equitable distribution of wealth and resources. If we keep to our “needs” and change our ways we will automatically help to keep the environment tidy and clean. We will learn to refrain from wastage and unnecessary spending and thus help the planet earth to be devoid of garbage and assist the Authorities to keep the planet Earth healthy and clean which we have hitherto strove very hard to achieve unsuccessfully.
It was distressing to note that the air quality index in Colombo was reaching alarming levels just prior to imposing curfew. A clean environment needs clean air. This can be achieved by enforcing our Laws in this regard (prosecuting those who use vehicles exceeding emission levels and preventing the burning of leaves in the city). If one stands near a junction equipped with traffic lights in the city, the carbon emissions could be clearly seen when the vehicles accelerate and recommence the journey at the turn of the green light. The biggest offenders are the buses and the state owned vehicles. The solution is simple if only the existing laws are enforced. Incidentally, it had been reported that bad air quality in Wuhan city had been a fertile medium for the propagation of the COVID-19.
It has been reported and we have already witnessed that with the lockdown, our air and water quality had tremendously improved bringing nature to the forefront inter alia resulting in fresh air, clear skies, and the birds of the air frequenting the cities. Although there have been much rhetoric about green cities, we have not yet succeeded in achieving same. Only a major change in our attitude and ways could finally achieve this.
It was also ironical that this pandemic occurred during the Universal cultural and religious festivities of the Chinese New Year, Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Easter Tridium, Vesak and Ramazan Festivals. Is it a sign that in the past we have been overdoing these spiritual occasions consciously or unconsciously to make it more commercial and thereby forgetting the true spirit, meaning and the reason behind such festivities?
Talking of “basics” what we also need to remember is the importance of retaining the concept of “the family”. The family unity that stays and works together, will no doubt trigger a forced entrepreneurship which can give rise to a new society. Once our societies stabilize in the world over, planet Earth will hopefully be a better place to live in. One might say that it will be a distant reality, but if each one of us strive to change our ways and be honest to our conscience it can be made a reality.
Lessons from Covid-19
Perhaps it is to change our attitude and lifestyle, release from clinging to whatever that is wrong and lead a simple healthy life. In this respect it will be of some relevance to closely reflect upon the seven sins spelled out by Mahatma Gandhi.
1.Wealth without work: for those who acquire excessive wealth without hard work such as easy money through engaging in deals, hedging in commodities and gambling at the expense of society
2.Pleasure without Conscience – for those who indulge in excessive fun and relaxation without responsibility and moderation
3. Knowledge without character – for those who acquire knowledge without any meaning or value such as the development of technology without any consideration to the environment resulting in extreme weather conditions
4. Science without humanity – for those who indulge in destructive technological advancements without any value for humans such as bioethical violations, culturing viruses perhaps like the one that has caused the present epidemiological catastrophe in the universe
5. Commerce without Morality – for those who trade with impunity/unethically only with the intention of wealth accumulation and ignore the concept of service to the community
6. Politics without Principle – for those in position of responsibility who shed their souls without principle to gain cheap popularity and success in the short term
7. Worship without sacrifice – for those who fail to transform what they have in mind and heart into action
Incidentally, these sins are also highlighted in the spiritual teaching of many religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. In 590 AD,Pope Gregory I, also unveiled the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride).
Therefore, we should also realize that COVID-19 is a wake-up call, a warning button, for us to change course. If we fail to change our ways the obvious consequence will be another wave of disasters.
This is a wake-up call for all of us in the Universe including all the Rulers (Governments, Heads of States), leaders of Governments and Institutes both Public and Private sectors on planet Earth to shed their earthly selfish intentions of attempting to be superior over others by hook or by crook. To the so called Super Powers which attempt to dominate the Universe by initiating Armed and Biological conflicts around the World by any means whatsoever, it is time to change. There has to be change in mind and soul to shed their sinister intentions and actions once and for all in the interest of mankind.
We need to come to terms with, reflect upon and overcome this struggle through a positive approach
Each of us have been given an opportunity to change course post COVID-19. We can strive to lead simpler lives (opting for needs rather than wants), appreciate and follow nature, be content with what you have and be of service to mankind.
We need to come to terms with, reflect upon and overcome this struggle through a positive approach. While success builds confidence, crisis moulds character.
In a few months from now, most of us will slip into our pre-COVID-19 routines and lifestyles and easily and conveniently forget that this epidemiological crisis had a message for us.
However, those of us who ponder seriously on the COVID-19 pandemic, the one event that brought down the entire Universe at one given time, either as a result of an accidental or deliberate release of an unseen virus will agree that there is a clear message for each of us - to change our ways. All of us have been affected by the pandemic in some way or another. Those of us who take on the challenge to change our lifestyles by making it a simpler and healthier one will see the world to be a better place to live in. To those who choose to ignore change, they can only hope for better luck next time, if they will only be lucky to have another chance.
The question we need to ask ourselves is;“when will we ever learn?”