A duck crossing a usually-very-busy, but now deserted, road with its six little ducklings is indeed a very unusual sight. So are the bird-songs that we all wake up to these days. And if a squirrel wiggles out of the shrubs in your garden and walks up to you to pick a groundnut from the palm of your hand, then it definitely means that something has drastically changed. These ducklings, squirrels and birds seem to be saying, “Stay at home, so we can come out”.
The global village had crossed all timezone restrictions and was collectively moving at an extremely fast pace; it just didn’t rest. Human population was moving at a speed thousands of times faster than the speed of the earth rotating. Doctors would advise individuals to rest, economists would advise nations not to inflate the balloons of capitalist economies to a point where they might just burst, ecologists advised societies to rid themselves of fuel-based motors, engines and industries; all in vain as no one had the time to even stop and listen or watch the trajectories of such graphs shoot in an almost vertical fashion.
So the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown measures seem to have come as mother nature’s way of getting mankind to take a little rest. The placards, billboards and television adverts saying “stay at home” can, hence, be best read as “Warning: The world is closed for repairs”.
Knowing that there are other sources and resources that provide a very accurate, statistical picture of pollution levels and emissions during these weeks of lockdowns, we do not go into greater detail. What we know is that mankind is no longer monopolising life on earth; other creation of God are also beginning to get a near-to-fair share.
There were other lessons that appeared to have been learnt at the onset of the coronavirus breakout: world leaders working towards a unified strategy to fight the battle with the virus; ceasefire in war-torn regions; international funds to sponsor pharmaceutical rescue; grants from international monetary bodies to help countries sustain through this unprecedented economic crisis.
But modern-man seems to be too restless to stop at a point for too long; to acknowledge that a lesson has been learnt; to express regrets on what has happened in the past and that it will not happen again. We’ve given you some good news in the first few paragraphs.
The bad news is that some world leaders seem to show no remorse and to have drifted back to the same old destructive practices. When the only ray of hope in this pandemic is a vaccine – in the making and around 18 months away – some “super” powers thought it was the best time to withdraw their funding from the WHO vaccine project. Why? Because they thought WHO had been “nice” to some other country in dealing with the outbreak.
We are not questioning the validity of this accusation, but we still don’t see a rationale behind this draconian approach to resolve a dispute (if it really was one).
In a time of desperation and frustration, when we had only just started to believe that world powers might now find peaceful and less detrimental ways of conflict resolution, we have a super-power proving us wrong. When Bill Gates and his foundation step forward to donate millions of dollars to the cause of finding a vaccine for this deadly virus, you get conspiracy theorists swarming the social media.
Reviving the debate of population control, they are seen accusing Bill Gates of promoting an agenda of depopulating the world through vaccines and other pharmaceutical tactics. Ironically so, but these anti-depopulation and anti-vaccine advocates may well be at the front of the queue when vaccinations are out in the market.
When the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ended up in an ICU with coronavirus symptoms, it was shocking to see some circles wishing for him the worst. Had things gone the wrong way, what a blow it would have been to the nation’s collective morale.
One finds it hard to believe that such circles could have any sympathy for the nation when they have proven through action that they couldn’t care less.
The UK is said to be one of the worst affected countries by the pandemic in Europe, if not the worst. The government ministers have shown reluctance in discussing the exit strategy at this stage where lockdown and distancing measures have only just started to show some green shoots; they do not want to risk the whole nation’s efforts and sacrifices by giving some false sense of hope and losing the good results.
The opposition, however, demands the exit strategy to be not only announced but also to be published so that there is little or no room for the government to manoeuvre out of it. In such uncertain times – when the best courtesy with the government can be to allow them room to make timely decisions in changing circumstances – the opposition seems to be going a bit too harsh on the pedal; we don’t always have to justify our job descriptions, do we?
So what we have seen is that politics – national or international – is not ready to part from its custom. There will, God willing, be an exit from this pandemic. There will be strategies of course. But if we recover from this big shakeup from mother nature without having learnt lessons, then the lives lost, the battle fought by health-workers, the jobs lost, the businesses collapsed, education compromised and the sacrifice of freedom during this pandemic may well just go in vain.
The best way forward is to make use of this time, when the “world is shut for repair”, with prayer and bring positive changes in our individual, national and international lives.