World Takes a Pause

As of this writing, the Corona virus is affecting the lives of billions of people in the world. Perhaps, some countries are more affected than others. Europe is now the epicenter of the pandemy, but USA currently is having the most number of new cases. Because cities are closed, and restrictions have been made to reduce human interactions and hamper the spread of the disease. Suddenly, the world is making a pause.

Do we get something good out of this? We have to reflect on this situation, so we become better individuals when the pandemy begins to subside. Here are the things we all could have realized in the last few days.

We realize what we truly need.

Food, water, shelter and protection. Those are what all individual needs. Higher needs include recognition, belongingness and confidence. These higher needs currently seem less relevant when survival is one's utmost concern. These needs are to be met, but no one could require someone to meet them in a way one wants it or when one needs it, especially in these challenging times. Think like you are in cave in the middle of rainforest. It is raining outside and you are wet. If all thinks that way, we could learn a lot from this pandemy. Resources are scarce, and you are not alone who needs it. Stop that customer attitude in a world in chaos. If you have that attitude today, it is like you are wandering in the warm tropical city with thick, expensive wool clothes. You look expensive and elegant but dumb.

We realize we live as part of a social unit.

No one man is an island. This pandemy is perhaps more pronounced in societies built in intimacy and strong close-knit relationships. Cultures in China, Italy and Spain gives as a glimpse on how social relationships aggravate situations like this. However, those cultures that less warm and social have something to learn from this. Now, we realize we have social duties more than our personal needs and wants. Fulfilling these duties is now perhaps the most important. Ironically, these duties would require us to do social distancing to reduce social contacts. This irony seems difficult to understand for some. However, this is much easier to fulfill than to sacrifice oneself in the battleground or in contact of possibly infected person in a heathcare setting. Think. Your only duty is to stay at home as much as possible. That is difficult? Take our role as health care professionals. If we have a choice we would want to stay at home these days, but we need to do what we do.

We realize people respond based on experience.

We react different way. Some force themselves to take things peacefully to the point of underestimating the nature of the problem. To this people, peace-of-mind is the ultimate goal. However, some are thirsty of information both good and bad. This enables them to take necessary actions and plan appropriately. They want to be informed, and inform others even others do not really want them. Moreover, some take it as if a mere light struggle. These are people who have experienced a lot in life. They have coped well in bigger challenges, thus they see this pandemy as just one of them, or even a less serious one. Who are you? Obviously, I am a combination of the second and third one. I hate those who belong in the first one. For me, they are dumb, inexperienced pacifists. However, the first group would easily judge me as neurotic, delusional weirdo, even not knowing my previous experiences. Nonetheless, we should not merely experienced non-vigilant relaxed like the third one. Our past experiences guarentees no sound judgment without reasonable amount of logic, reflection and information.

We realize the beauty of the environment.

People would want to go out. People see the beauty of nature. I see that. Especially the extroverts would want to have some diversion. This is true also to lesser extent for the introverts. However, do we appreciate nature now just because it is serving us good? Why have we not protected and appreciated the environment before this pandemy. We have destroyed the earth and made it warm. Now, suddenly we see its value. How long would it take after this pandemy before we forget all this, and return to our old ways. We will continue to pollute the air, water and land. This is a much-needed pause for the environment. Unlucky we are, we are the sacrificial lambs for this time, not the environment like it has been all the time.

We realize our own mortality.

We all die. We just do not know when. This pandemy has given false reasurrance that only those with underlying diseases and old would die. We see that also the young die. Dying elderly population is socially-accepted, but not a fast pace due to a single cause like Corona virus. Sacrificing the elderly is not a good argument either, because it is merely use to allay anxiety of the general population. We all are at risk. Who in this world has no underlying sickness? We even can not delineate where the boundary between healthy and sick is. We can all die. How would you take that? If you are getting older, perhaps you are accepting your own mortality, thus, you would like to do everything before death comes, even at the expense of others. Think if you think like that, the younger population think the same way. No one is protecting anyone. Be a good older role model to the rebellious youngsters at least.

We realize restrained freedom is not bad at all.

Freedom and democracy are well-valued ever since the Second World War. It is based on the belief that we are rational beings, capable of making sound decisions positively affecting oneself and the society in general. However, we are more focused on individual gains and satisfaction, rather than the social good. We have been more greedy individuals, rather than rational ones. Therefore, I see this pandemy as a reminder to all of us to think how greedy we have been. Step back. See first what is going around before thinking and expecting others to satisfy your needs and wants. Restraining your freedom might be the much-needed solution for our greed. There is no shame in admitting that.

We realize we are privileged as modern citizens.

As modern, global citizens, we have some privileges our forefathers did not have. Technology made it easier to communicate. It eases our boredom. We could browse the internet, see movies at the tip of our fingertips. This is more pronounced in advance societies, like here in Norway. This is in contrast to some countries still struggling to have access to this. Moreover, we travel from one place to another. We get information both true and false anywhere. We stay informed and alert if we truly utilize them optimally. Think how privileged we have been. No complaints if we do not get what we want. Complain instead for the whole society would benefit from.

As of now, some individuals would still see the situation as mere short pause. However, I do not see that way. The worse is yet to come, especially in Norway. People are so thirsty of good points. Even just a small reduction hospitalized patients yesterday, and ignoring surging new cases in spite of the restrictions in place almost 2 weeks ago. I understand why Norwegians are born optimist-realist. While Filipinos are born fatalist-romanticist. We Filipinos would see suffering in a positive way without destroying our inner core, even at the darkest moments. Therefore, I am writing this. In denial of the situation is the worst a Filipino can do.

This pause is a challenge to all of us. The more we cover our eyes from the reality, the longer pause would be. The challenges would be more catastrophic than we ever thought. Supporting the front liners is hypocritical, and just a diversion perhaps from boredom and irritation, if you yourself go out as if nothing happens when the weather is good at weekend. Look! The world is making a pause. Are you?


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