null COVID-19: A virus that has shaken the world
COVID-19: A virus that has shaken the world
Popular themes centred around everything from globalisation to climate change, from human rights to the power of social media, from space travel to the dilemma of mass immigration, to name just a few. Not many among us could contemplate the threat from an invisible enemy 5 million times smaller than the size of a human.
Yet almost overnight, we were torn away from the reality – or the illusion of it – that surrounded us, and we stepped into a fearful, totally unknown and distressing situation where social and economic panic were palpable in all areas and levels of human society across the globe. People wearing respirator masks, doctors and nurses with protective clothing, masks and glasses, and the word ‘quarantine’ had jumped from the history books straight into our everyday conversation. The peak of COVID-19’s Gaussian distribution curve became a nightmare, and the extremely sad sight of military trucks carrying dead bodies, the public fighting for toilet paper, and empty cities and squares were akin to scenes from José Saramago’s novel “Blindness”.
Billions of people had to accept a tough lesson: that we can’t control our lives the way we had hoped, and that life doesn’t always go as planned.
As in any crisis, the light and hope started twinkling in the middle of this horrible darkness. Drawing strength from the power of music and art, quarantined people started singing from their balconies to show empathy, solidarity, belonging and humanity, and shared their beautiful emotions with others around the world thanks to modern technology. The health system and its professionals – and their incredible effort – became the centre of people’s attention. Stories like the elderly priest – who died from the coronavirus after refusing a ventilator so that a younger patient could use it instead – demonstrated how the ability to share and give is the greatest of human gifts. Hopefully, this and countless other moving stories will plant the seeds of life, and forever remain in our collective memory in the post COVID-19 era.
We are still in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, and playing our part in the struggle against the contagion is currently one of the most important responsibilities that we all share. However, we have already gained some invaluable experience that we can carry into the post¬–COVID-19 world: science and knowledge, responsible democracies and social systems with the courage to act, and advanced healthcare systems. Transparency and mutual trust are highly precious in this time of crisis because they promote confidence, a sense of safety – and help save people’s lives.
Inevitably, this uncertain and troubled period will pass, and we will eventually find that COVID-19’s deadly threat has receded. Though it may not be easy for us, we have time now to pause and listen to our inner voice and mind. The history of mankind over thousands of years tells us that our shared humanity will help us find the way forward, though our shaken world will somehow be essentially different.
Therefore, this 800 year old poem from Saadi Shirazi could be a fresh source of inspiration for us:
All human beings
are members of one frame,
Since all, at first, from
the same essence came.
When time afflicts
a limb with pain
The other limbs
at rest can’t remain.
If thou feel not
for other’s misery
A human being is
no name for thee.