By Jean Janki Samaroo
Life has drastically changed these days for people all over the world since the Coronavirus appeared. Every conversation and move we make revolves around this outbreak. From the World Health Organization and other bodies responsible for health down to health authorities in individual communities, we’re well-informed about what to do.
This post is not in the least bit scientific or medical. Those details are best left to the experts. Any such information on the virus that you need to know is as near as your television or computer screen. You are probably already washing your hands regularly, keeping surfaces clean, and avoiding crowds.
COVID-19’s first life lesson is that we are all fragile. Regardless of sexual orientation, country, color, income, job status, or any other yardstick of measurement, this virus can hit anyone. In this, we are all equal.
It’s easy when things are going well in our individual worlds and are, so to speak “normal,” to forget our common humanity. COVID-19 has turned our world upside-down. How will we act or react like humans to this crisis? As Maya Angelou said: “During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.”
COVID-19’S second life lesson is the fact that we are “our brother’s keeper.” Whole countries and cities are shut-down in order to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. We are being asked to keep ourselves safe and be mindful of others as well. Many times in life we tend to act as though we’re the only ones that exist on this planet. Our goals and our dreams are usually for ourselves and our families. We’re doing things differently now.
We’re self-isolating these days not only to keep ourselves safe but to keep those around us from becoming ill. We don’t want this virus to spread. It’s brought us face-to-face once again with our interrelatedness. Granted, we’re being told to do this.
The fact is that most of us are doing it willingly and that’s something. What I do affects you and what you do affects me. Thomas Edison, the famous lightbulb guy, who made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing it had this to say about our interrelatedness: “To me, the idea and expectation that the day is slowly and surely coming when we will be able to honestly say we are our brother’s keeper and not his oppressor is very beautiful .” Let’s hope that in these days and long after COVID-19 is just a memory, we will still want to watch out for our brothers and sisters at home and around the world.
Covid-19’s third life lesson is about adapting to change. Lots of the e-mails I’ve been receiving lately are from businesses like banks, walk-in clinics, Walmart, the Royal Ontario Museum, the National Ballet, and the like. These are to inform of changes being implemented as a result of the virus. Schools and universities have decided to close in order to keep the students and the staff safe. All over the world, people are making the necessary changes in order to deal or cope with this virus.
In our history as a species, we have had the Bubonic Plague, Smallpox, SARS, Ebola, HIV – just to name a few. Many of our brothers and sisters did lose their lives but many survived these diseases. Not all is in our hands but we can live with hope and do whatever we can to listen to our scientists, doctors, and other personnel about the necessary steps we need to take at this time. Charles Darwin famously said: “The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability.” Let’s adapt day by day.
Covid-19’s last life lesson is that we can never take life for granted. In the face of disease, illness, and loss, our perspectives necessarily change. All the material things we strive for and work so hard to get pale in comparison to having life and health. In the present situation, we’re living one day at a time.
Plans for trips have been canceled. Social gatherings like parties, ball games, theatrical shows, and plain just going for a coffee, are put on hold. We aren’t able to move about as freely as we once did. Trying to avoid crowds wasn’t something we were concerned about before but it is now. We once took going to these kinds of places for granted. Events were just part of our lives before COVID-19.
What about the people in our lives? We love them but we realize how precious they really are in light of this virus. Our children and grandchildren will be away from school for several weeks. Who would take care of them if we weren’t around? What of our teachers, healthcare workers, and store personnel. Do we ever think of them as important or do we just take them for granted?
This brings us to the “gratitude” word. When we take life for granted, we’re not often grateful. This is an opportunity to think about, evaluate, and be grateful for every opportunity and person who blesses our life in some small way. We owe our existence to so many people on a daily basis. Even in the midst of COVID-19, there are lessons to be learned and we can practice gratitude. “This virus will leave us entirely newborn people. We will all be different, none of us will ever be the same again. We will have deeper roots, be made of denser soil, and our eyes will have seen things.”
I believe that there are many lessons to learn at this time and if you have some of your own to share, I would be happy to add them to this list.
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