20 Mar Is Coronavirus reminding us what really matters in life?
By Gabriel Dinda
For the past few months and especially in the past one month, the world has been on standstill, almost singing to the same tune of Coronavirus in unison. Something that until five months ago wasn’t a matter of discussion has now taken over all avenues of discussion in a manner that no one would have predicted. How interesting life can get. From where I sit, I think we can pick the following lessons from it.
- Go home
A number of companies have advised their employees to work from home or simply, go home and await further directions. Schools have been closed and all students advised to go home. The government is on an overdrive; advising people to avoid unnecessary travels and stay home. Large gatherings have been discouraged and people encouraged to avoid social or religious gatherings for their own good. Why is everyone advised to be home during such times? Is home the safest place on earth? Yes, it is.
For most people, when everything is normal, we don’t think that home is the best place for us. We actually think that place is the office or place of work. Therefore, we spend most of our productive time there. In fact, there are many people “stuck” at home now not knowing what to do with themselves. Because they have never been there. It could be that they present their bodies there, but they are never there with their heart. If a home is the best place on earth, why do we give it such little attention normally? So even after Corona, GO HOME and be home.
- Human life above all else
Coronavirus has affected many aspects of life. Most economies have been grounded. Very little production is going on. Very little trade is going on. Many business people are counting losses. Some people consider it evil, to think of losses or failure to make profits at this time. It seems that there is something ‘bigger’ to aim for or to fight for. And that’s life. For now, most authorities are just focused on preserving lives that could be lost as a result of the virus. For this reason, most governments make decisions only based on the well-being of people and not necessarily those that will fetch the highest taxes or profits. Why is this not the case always? For the most time, people are always focused on the secondary aspects of life and not on life itself. With the absence of Corona, why are we happy killing others if they stand on our way to more profits? Why are we happy paying employees peanuts without looking at the family responsibilities that they have? Why do we put other things above life? Why do we find it easy to mutilate the environment to fatten our bank accounts without thinking of the millions who will be affected by such actions? Why don’t we always think of human life, the welfare of the person as we now seem to do?
- We are one
If you thought that a virus that was first discovered in Wuhan city in China would not affect you because “they are different from us” or that “China is far from Kenya”, then you need to think again. If you look at it, the virus once affected one person, then the second, then the third then it now threatens to get to everyone else. This should tell you that, we all get in contact with each other all over the world, one way or the other. Why don’t we come to this realization without such calamities? Many people have said it, that there is just but one race in the world; the human race. Perhaps, they have not explained it in a way that we can all understand, but now that we are so afraid of each other, throughout the world, we know for sure that we are one and our problem is one. Why don’t we remember this outside crisis? Why do we forget so quickly as to refer to others as less human or treat them as so? Isn’t it just a difference in context or culture but the same destiny? Why don’t we govern with this understanding? That we can switch positions and still feel the same comfort? So we create an environment where if the president of a country switched positions with the hawker, the two would still enjoy the same comfort! That if you switched positions with your house help, you will still feel as comfortable! Why don’t we come to this realization that we are truly one and do everything with this in mind?
- The Higher Being
I have spoken to a number of people during this period. Most of them seem to be shocked at the sheer numbers of deaths resulting from this in a day in countries like Italy and Spain. One person particularly was very remorseful. He lamented that if these are the countries whose health systems as more developed, how come so many people are still perishing! He concluded by saying, “Only God will help us”
During such times, we realize that we are so limited as human beings. We realize that we may be developed in an area, that we can move from one place to another in seconds or launch a rocket to the moon, but still we realize that we “don’t have it all”. We realize that there is an extent to which our sophistication can go. The pity is the fact that when we accomplish something, we tend to think that “we know it all” and hence can depend on ourselves. You will hear a lot of reference to God during this time, and it could be pointing to something that is within us, that we perhaps are struggling to reason against- that we need God. It could be because of our limited understanding that we may not see it clearly or because of our stubbornness or pride that we may fail to see it, but such times have a humble way of reminding our limitation. And when you look around you, you will see so many limitations.
May we always remember these little lessons that the Corona Virus appears to be reminding us of.
Gabriel Dinda is the founder of Writers Guild- Kenya.