When COVID-19 is the only story

Some thoughts during lock down

The Flower - Pakistan Monument at Night

Due to closure of air space, all international flights are suspended, so we prepared ourselves for indefinite residential confinement in this quiet neighborhood, my brother-in-law’s comfortable house close to the Clifton sea-shore area. This self internment not only means social distancing and sanitizing our hands seriously, but also refraining from sharing sensationalist, fake and questionable posts on social media.

It is an opportunity to think and reflect on the future of heightened moral courage and active citizenry, sorely needed to address our pre-coronavirus woes in a post coronavirus world. Could this pandemic help us change how we think and act better?

Today we seem to be on a different planet and a different people. When staying indoors was not the most preferred choice, when we shook hands carefree, when we were not traumatized by the frightening sound of another person’s cough or sneeze. Even the sacred places of worship have limited attendance, mostly shut down, Airports, train stations and bus stops look deserted. Busy and overcrowded streets of Karachi have become eerily silent, abandoned.

COVID-19 is not just the biggest story of our age; it is so huge that is the only story.

Its time to start questioning our wisdom in implanting scores of different sub-identities over our primary one that of a human being, first and foremost. Nothing unites two warring factions as a common enemy. Coronavirus can be that common enemy, powerful enough to unite mankind’s every two sets of adversaries, every two factions of eternal enemies at war.

Not so long ago, we could afford to be enemies of ourselves. Humans were enemies of humans. There were natural calamities and man-made calamities were in the latter case, humans fought humans. Not anymore, says COVID.

Yes, as masters of our planetary fate, we perpetuated divides. Men versus women. Whites versus black, brown and others. Muslims versus Hindus, Christians Jews and others. Religious versus agnostic. We were forced into choosing one to exclude another. Conservative or liberal. Each sub-identity was on a collision course against the other by ignoring our principal truth that we are humans on hostile terrain.

Today, as we face an existential threat from a mortal molecular foe, we have run out of options but to reflect on viruses that infected us in the ‘Before-COVID’ era; hatred, lies, intensity to discriminate, oppress, unleash violence and justify it, and deny justice to another–based on differences of religion, race and ethnicity. How important are they now? Faced by a non-discriminating enemy which will kill everyone, no matter how you pray, what you eat, or what you believe; one touch and it gets you–all with equal precision.

Coronavirus could be a blessing in disguise when it will vanish, then we will become compassionate, caring and benevolent. Then our fight would be against our real enemies; poverty, ignorance and injustice. It will happen only when we will wash our hands of all sins of our past. Then not only our hands but our hearts would be together for a better world.