The title may remind you of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘Love in the time of Cholera’ but while the novel treats lovesickness, as intense as a disease, from psychological to physical terms, our times are turning it inwards. We all who have read about pandemics in history are now faced with experiencing it first-hand.
The human race’s evolution is a story of inventing ways to counter the eternal: universal fear.
The fear of death. Be it scriptures, prayer, religion, science, technology, the deepest intention has been to seek a boon of immortality. The complexity increased, and somewhere along the lineman came in direct conflict with nature.
At a micro level, the sense of entitlement of the privileged needs some toning down, for corona has spread through the upper socioe-conomic strata, the airborne world citizens, not the poor locals.
The more we poked nature, severe has been the reaction. With each such calamity, the desire to overpower nature pushed man further. Instead of submission, it became a confrontation.
We forgot that nature is in a continuous cycle of change, with or without humans. Our interventions possibly add another dimension that nature has to deal beyond its inherent process.
Every century has seen tsunamis and weather calamities, but man-made disasters are a phenomenon of modern life and it is suicidal. The genie is out of the bag! Can we go back to a simpler life?
The answer is NO!
THE CORONA EPIDEMIC has presented a challenge not only to our physical survival but to our thought process too. While the age-old social distancing (from the times of plague and flu) and quarantines are being applied and treatments explored, the psychological threat is unrealized.
Personal care for life, of oneself and the loved ones, has to extend to a wider circle. We have to learn to step out of the cocoon of self-centeredness to extend an arm to the ‘ other’.
The scare to life has brought out the discipline and good behaviour temporarily, for in peace times love is replaced by the competition to live and its associated violence, physical or otherwise.
This disaster may, in the long run, prove a game-changer provided we Homo sapiens think about life itself. The fact that either we survive together or perish has been the writing on the wall for long. We ignored it and nature is out again to teach us a few hard lessons.
Indeed, is it divine intervention or a chance fallacy? It can be a matter of belief, but the chaos is real.
Personal care for life, of oneself and the loved ones, has to extend to a wider circle. We have to learn to step out of the cocoon of self-centeredness to extend an arm to the ‘ other’. The crisis may last longer or may be mitigated in a self limiting cycle, but it definitely is pointing beyond the anxiety and paranoia of our times.
At a gross level, the measures for health and avoidance of death adopted in the crises should be a part of daily concern, irrespective of class, colour and country. No one is special in nature!
At a micro level, the sense of entitlement of the privileged needs some toning down, for corona has spread through the upper socio-economic strata, the airborne world citizens, not the poor locals.
Whatever power countries may wield, not many are in a state of offering help to the other. The utter helplessness is disheartening and exposes our fragility, but it may be a harbinger of a ‘new world order’ that is really humane. It may require redefining the needs, the basic frame of living and not the castles of deluded life.
As MK Gandhi advised us way back, that it is the need that earth fulfils, not greed; instead, we should attempt to redefine life, each in our minds and collectively as societies, nations and humanity.
Dr Alok Bajpai is a psychiatrist and Gandhi enthusiast.