Difficult times teach or remind us about deeper dimensions of life. The past seven months have been strange times, during a world war against the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the lessons experienced are:
Resilience and ability to adapt seems ingrained in human DNA. We “adjust” to any situation – as wars, famines, calamities, pandemics have proved across 5,000 years of recorded human history. So we adjusted to lockdowns, quarantines and struggle to continue normal life amid abnormal days.
There are no limits to power of the human mind, but no limits either to delusions and foolishness. Some still refuse to accept the lethal nature of Covid-19 – even after more than a million have died worldwide.
Such people unfortunately get hit by reality the hard way – after getting Covid-19. Ukrainian fitness trainer Dmitriy Stuzhuk denied the existence of Covid-19 to his millions of social media followers. He died on 16 October from Covid-19, aged 33, leaving behind his mourning wife and two children.
Stuzhuk posted on Instagram just before dying: “I want to share how I got sick and convincingly warn everyone: I also thought that there was no Covid… Until I got sick.”
Generosity. The worst brings out the best of humanity – which is why we survive the hard times. People have been extraordinarily generous in one way or the other.
Donating food, helping others financially or in any way possible, rendering services small or big – we saw so much generosity in the past seven months.
So much courage seen too from thousands of doctors, nurses, grocery retail workers, everyone in emergency services risking their lives to serve others. Many died from Covid-19 while serving others infected with Covid-19.
We have to live the remainder of our lives in a way worthy of the essential service providers who died in the past seven months so we could live.
The Internet served and saved humanity during the past seven months – unimaginable difficulties without online access and information. The Internet has enabled work to continue for millions, ensured delivery of food, medicines, money and essential services to entire countries in lockdown. Gratitude to all the known and unknown builders of the Internet, and Internet service providers.
Change is the only certainty. Nothing is permanent except the core laws of nature. We starkly experienced the impermanence of life the past seven months: changes in work, jobs. Money lost. But strength was gained. We become stronger facing challenges, sharing what we have, finding ways to overcome. The real strength comes from within.
Life can end any time but not quarrelling. Put two people in a deserted island and chances are they may not be on talking terms after two weeks. A big ego feeds fire to quarrels for immaterial material gains even amid a pandemic.
We grow in wisdom. But wisdom comes with willingness to learn, to work hard to correct one’s mistakes and to be free from the deadliest virus of all: the impurities entrenched deep in the dungeons of one’s mind.
The most lethal disease of selfcreated suffering is there, and the universal, practical way of freedom to real happiness is also there (www.dhamma.org) – and our choice of wisdom whether to make the best use of it.
The world war against the pandemic continues, though victory is in sight. As Diwali nears with the second half of an unusual festive season, remember we are still under the Covid-19 threat – same as in March. The core threat of infection has not changed much except for lockdowns eased out of unavoidable economic necessity.
We are still dodging the Covid-19 bullet. Many of us have been lucky to do so – so far. Keep it that way. An understandable weariness of seven months of lockdown can be the biggest threat, as western countries experience now.
Europe is suffering a Covid-19 upsurge the past fortnight. Germany has restrictions now which the German people did not have in MarchApril.
The UK government has prohibited socializing between different households within the house – no social visits from friends, neighbours, relatives for now.
El Paso town, in the US state of Texas, imposed a second lockdown from 29 October for two weeks after local hospitals were “overwhelmed” with Covid-19 cases. The medical staff and infrastructure could not cope.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crucial cautionary message on 20 October has to be followed during the festive season. India cannot afford another lockdown.
For that, we must maintain lockdown discipline even though lockdown has been lifted: hand sanitizing, safe distancing from one another (most people still have difficulty understanding this need, even after seven months of suffering), do not go out unless necessary, avoid unnecessary physical visits and socializing. Online meetings are good enough for now.
Another lockdown can have devastating consequences. To avoid it, we have to continue carefully following Covid-19 precautions. Do not go out without a mask or without properly wearing the mask. Why take the risk of infecting others as an asymptomatic carrier of the Covid-19 virus.
We have to accept reality, as it is now, and live accordingly. No doing anything to put family members at risk of Covid-19 infection, particularly those above age 60.
This too will pass, soon. But until then we need to live with Covid-19 precautions to let others live – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, relatives and strangers in the street. Have a safe, sensible and happy festive season.
The writer is a senior, Mumbai-based journalist.