Don’t know if I will be proved wrong, but the novel coronavirus pandemic is going to bring about disruptive changes in the way we are going to lead our lives. So far humanity kept discussing the disruptive changes brought about by human inventions such as the steam engine and the internet. But in our over-enthusiasm to tame the world by gaining upper hand over mother nature, we completely ignored the fact that we remain as vulnerable as we have ever been.
When the environmentalists forewarned us about the global warming and depleting bio-diversity that could spell doom for humankind, we either grudgingly acknowledged their concerns or completely ignored them.
When the sustainability proponents alerted us to the dangers of unhindered consumerism and the pressure that it would put on the earth’s resources, we trashed them accusing them of being regressive.
When some economists cautioned us that our obsession with ever-increasing economic growth is not sustainable in the long run, we disregarded by branding them obscurantist.
When animal rights activists denounced speciesism and advocated mercy towards animals, we cruelly pronounced our entitlement over their bodies and unabashedly declared our right to consume their meat.
People simply could not find time to think about all those issues and rushed ahead — earning more, consuming more, polluting more and eating more — leading king-sized lives. But it appears that nature has its own way of leveling things. It, to restore balance, created a dreadful pandemic. And humankind, despite bragging about precision medicine, could not find either medicine or vaccine to deal with the horrifying decease. They may succeed in finding one in the future, but that will be too late as scores of lives will be snuffed out by then. And by the time they find a vaccine to one virus, a more dangerous virus will raise its ugly head in some animal farm and starts haunting humankind.
The pandemic forced them to stay indoors. They can’t use their cars to go on pleasure trips nor can they visit shopping malls or restaurants to indulge in retail therapy or binge on gourmet food. They are, in a way, forced to halt consumerism.
The wild animals, which hitherto withdrew into remote corners of their ever-shrinking wilderness, moved into human habitats to regain some of their lost space.
Hazy skies laden with pollutants became crystal clear, water in tanks and rivers turned transparent giving a fresh lease of life to all aquatic animals. Air and water are in the process of getting restored to their pristine purity. What multi-billion-dollar governmental efforts could not achieve an invisible pathogen achieved.
And the governments, instead of getting obsessed with attracting foreign investment and giving bailout packages to corporates, started implementing socialism. They are extending benefits to the poor and the vulnerable in order to help them sail through the crisis. Even coronavirus itself appeared socialistic as it did not discriminate against anyone — affecting both rich men and paupers alike. It infected poor people, state heads and even royalty. Perhaps China, which couldn’t practice socialism in its true sense and instead produced numerous billionaires, ended up creating a truly socialistic virus in its dirty and cruel wet markets.
In a way, what we are witnessing is a great disruptive change. And this change, unlike previous human-induced changes, is forced upon all of us by mother nature. We need to appreciate it and realize the fact that the way we were leading our lives before the advent of COVID-19 was highly unsustainable and there is an urgent need to mending our ways.
The world, though passing through a terrible crisis, is not short of optimism. We will sail through this crisis, and when we hit the shores, we must make sure that we won’t go back to our usual ways.
Let the wildlife habitats expand. Let the fish swim in transparent waters. And let the skies stay pristine. Let the self-sufficiency and national borders be restored. And let nature, in all its pristine purity, rule us. In essence, let us move back to our pagan roots, where our forefathers worshipped mother nature. Because she is the only one who manifests to all of us in her rich splendor and provides us with the much-needed life force. And, if we forget all these and go back to our usual ways, we may keep waiting for the next pandemic to strike us.
I may sound idealistic and unpragmatic. But in this increasingly precarious world, being humble towards mother nature and prostrating before her may not be a bad idea. Our ancestors had done this whenever they felt helpless.
Originally published at http://www.pensivewebizen.in on April 7, 2020.