Note: Originally published in MEGHA- (In)visible lines of creativity in trilingual expression. Click on the link below to access the E-book
The air was filled with excitement and euphoria as the countdown for the New Year began, for this time when the clock strikes 12 it wouldn’t just be heralding another year but also the dawn of the new decade. Mankind had huge plans for the “Roaring 2020s”. Maybe this would be the decade that we finally send human missions to Mars? The possibilities were endless and each more exciting than the other.
We were all prepared to have our minds blown away but Mother Nature had other plans and we were given a rude wakeup call in the form of COVID -19. This disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus has singlehandedly brought humanity to its knees. Today we have realized that despite walking on the moon, having developed nuclear weapons and made significant advancements in healthcare we are still vulnerable as we were when the black plague broke out in the 14th century. That a wee virus still has the potential to wipe us off the face of the planet.
We are facing unprecedented times. We are embroiled in a totally different war; A war where fighting in the frontlines are not soldiers armed with guns and explosives but health professionals armed with facemasks, gloves and anti virals. It is a war where nuclear weapons have been replaced by disinfectants and hand sanitizer
as lethal weapons; a war where instead of fighting against each other we have to come together to fight a common enemy.
Lockdown has given many of us some much needed solitude as well as time to stop and smell the roses. It has given mother earth time to heal and recover from all the damage and destruction caused by us, but more importantly it has shown light on the cracks in our lifestyle.
The path back to pre COVID times is a long and winding one, but not one that is impossible. The real question is, is it advisable? After all that is what got us here. We have none to blame but ourselves for all the problems we are facing today be it global warming, be it the pandemic or be it resource depletion. Mother Nature has pressed the reset button presenting us with a golden opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
We still have time and we can undo our mistakes. So what can be done in order to reverse our past mistakes as well to prevent another pandemic? It begins from starting with the man in the mirror.
Adopting an eco friendly lifestyle
An eco friendly lifestyle is no longer a choice but a necessity. In the last decade global warming has gone from becoming a thing of the future to a matter of the present. While many agreements were made to combat climate change, a disparity still exists between what countries have pledged to do and what should be done in order to turn the tide against climate change. It is imperative now more than ever to reduce, reuse and recycle. Lockdown has shown us how schools and universities do not need to meet up every day in order to function efficiently and how working from home is feasible. Virtual meetings and virtual classrooms enable classes as well as business meetings to be conducted at the comfort of our home. Think about all the automobile and aviation gas emissions we can reduce. As individuals, it is our duty to make a conscious effort to reduce, reuse and recycle. As a state, school and university curriculums should be upgraded and developed in a way that infuses traditional methods of learning with virtual learning so that students do not have to commute everyday, but also do not miss out on hands-on-learning and important social skills that traditional classrooms offer. In the same way, businesses should also be encouraged to carry out majority of their work virtually by providing incentives such as easy internet payment packages.
With lockdown restricting importing of products and purchasing of goods locally, we have learnt to become self-sufficient at both an individual and state level. Considering the fact that most pandemics are caused by zoonotic diseases, it is advisable that we try and limit importing products. At and individual level we can turn to home gardening, while as a state we can take steps to produce products locally as well to encourage people to engage in home gardening by providing low-cost fertilizers and specialized grants.
Health is the greatest wealth
COVID 19 doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight – we all have an equal chance of contracting the disease. This pandemic has made us realize that health is indeed the greatest wealth in our life. It has also brought to light the shortcomings of the healthcare system. It is our responsibility both as individuals and as a state to give priority to our health. As individuals we should eat healthy meals, take time to engage in physical activity and lead a healthy life. As a state we need to allocate more money to the health sector so that hospitals can be adequately equipped to meet the growing health demands as well as carry out awareness programs to educate the public on leading a healthy life.
Preparing for the future
This is not the first pandemic, nor will it be the last that we will face. With glaciers melting thanks to global warming, new viruses are being discovered making us more vulnerable. To face pandemics successfully states should give more importance to biological researchers. Researchers can be encouraged and motivated to predict the newly emerging diseases and find cures, new vaccines and drugs by providing financial incentives. A program should be launched to research the possibility of a link between nuclear weapons and technological advancements and the outbreak of
new viruses and if proven laws and regulation should be introduced. Artificial Intelligence used currently can be improved and utilized in fighting future pandemics. Lastly, disaster management units that have been set up in the wake of COVID -19 should continue after its resolution and operate to educate the public on preventing and facing pandemics and other disasters.
As Chief Seattle said “The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself”. So we have no right to disrupt the delicate balance of the eco system. It is clear now more than ever that we do not own this planet and that Mother Nature is still in charge. We are mere inhabitants, just like the animals and plants. It is time that we respected Mother Nature and lived in harmony with the other inhabitants of planet earth.
After so many years of living life a certain way, one might wonder is it possible for us to change our lifestyle. After all, old habits die hard. Homo sapiens have lived for centuries facing and overcoming many challenges and the key to their survival has always been their ability to adapt to changes. Look at how we are handling the present crisis. People all over the world have changed their lifestyles, resulting in working from home, having virtual meetings, virtual classrooms, virtual shopping and virtual socializing becoming the new normal. It all boils down to how willing we are to adapt.
As every dark cloud has a silver lining, this pandemic has opened our eyes to our destructive way of living and given us an opportunity to redefine and reinvent ourselves. So grab it. If not now, when? Mother Nature has pressed the reset button. Now is the time and we must seize it. The clock is ticking. Don’t hit the snooze button. For when you next wakeup it might be the end of the world.