Thoughts on Coronavirus
What strange times we’re living through right now. That seems to be the sentence I’ve heard most lately as we all try to process what this pandemic means for us, our families, our communities, our businesses and the world. There have been many different reactions – from the fear and panic resulting in loo roll and pasta shortages, to the warmth of voluntary groups springing up to ensure the most vulnerable are taken care of through community delivery services. This thing is bigger than any individual, or family group, and the only way to survive it is going to be to pull together as a community – mentally, emotionally, and digitally – even while we keep a physically safe distance.
One of the themes of the digital memes that tend to do the rounds at times like this is what a disaster 2020 has been thus far. The devastating forest fires in Australia. The UK’s final withdrawal from the EU after a painfully drawn-out and messy ‘divorce’. The cruel, relentless tabloid culture that drove a famous woman to suicide. And now a global pandemic so virulent it’s turning our technology against us; shutting down airports, closing the events and gatherings that make life worth living, reversing the globalisation that makes the world turn. Literally shrinking our immediate environments to the inside of our homes and the few surrounding streets, ensuring our safety by restricting our freedom.
I keep asking myself why we’re in this situation? Is there a reason? The last time I wrote I was musing about Karma, the concept that intentions and actions sow the seeds for future events. The more I learn about yoga and about Eastern philosophy the more I wonder whether this can be applied globally. Over the last few years there has been a distinct global shift to a politics of suspicion, fear, self-preservation. ‘Make America Great Again’ – by building walls and keeping it for our own. ‘Take back control’ – meaning return our country to a time before we mixed with those who are different from us. Be careful what you wish for. After a global tide of energy focused on looking after only ourselves, on restricting freedom of movement, on closing borders, we are visited with a global illness that will do all that and kill some of us too.
Some people will no doubt see no connection. Perhaps there is none. But I think what we do, and the intention behind it, matters hugely. Not just as individuals, but as a human race. Just as the industrial revolution, and resulting thoughtless consumption of energy and resources, has lead to global climate change, could it be that the energy and intention of terror and distrust can manifest a result that enforces the separation we’ve blindly fought for?
These next few months, maybe even the rest of this year, will be tough. People are understandably anxious and suffering, whether because they’re actually ill, grieving a loved one who succumbed to the virus, or in legitimate fear because their health is compromised or their living relies on providing a service that people are no longer advised to use. The best thing we can do is to stay calm, to follow the official advice, to support each other – and our local businesses as much as we physically can – and focus on the simple pleasures in life. There are plenty of things that still aren’t banned; fresh air, walks, exercising indoors, reading, listening to music, cuddling our loved ones, kitchen discos, sofa film nights, football in the garden, doing those DIY projects we never get around to.
Right now we need to batten down the hatches, take care of ourselves and each other, and try our best to stay positive. But we also need to think and question. We need to decide what we’re going to learn from all this. And we need to keep sight of the fact that only with a global and local mindset of cooperation, sharing and mutual support can each individual possibly come through this unscathed.