The Other Side of the current phase – hopefully, lurking over the horizon and possibly beginning in a few months or, perhaps, even a year from now – will undoubtedly not be a sharp turnaround and return to the ‘old’ normal, but a hazy, long and bumpy transition to a ‘new’ normal, characterised by numerous turnings and tossing, with unnerving crests and troughs on the way. After a testing phase of alternating hope and despair, which may be 2 to 3 years long, the ‘new’ normal will never be the same as the ‘old’ normal. Many permanent changes will happen to our lives and how we think and live, many of which may indeed be happening now as we speak, some good and some quite different, just like a beautiful rosebush, adorned with vicious thorns underneath if you look up-close.
Those of us, who manage to reach the Other Side, will possibly find:
- Low talks and petty whinges of the present, a result of our materialistically pampered lifestyle of late, would have faded to a seemingly distant past. Instead, more serious discussions related to a deliberate and responsible living would have taken their place.
- Global issues, like global warming, would logically have become less important, albeit temporarily, and not discussed as vigorously as in the recent times.
- The definition of wealth and a wealthy person would have changed and possibly rolled back by a few decades or even a century.
- Austerity would have become a new norm. Thrifty lifestyle, with a frugal mindset, would have become common lifestyle features.
- Community lifestyle would have returned. People would have realised the benefits of having a healthy family, true friends and caring neighbours.
- People would be traveling around with extreme care and caution, not only internationally, but locally too.
- Automobile and aviation industry would have taken a serious dent and possibly would be struggling to survive. Same would be the case with hotel and hospitality industries.
- Air travel, especially the international air travel, would have become a rare luxury and fallen beyond the reach of many people. Even local travel would have become expensive.
- As people would have discovered ways of working from home and the ease of online learning, everyday road traffic would have considerably reduced, causing much lesser air pollution and mental stress.
- Memories of the current blue sky – mostly due to minimal vehicular emissions on roads at the present – would remain fresh for at least a decade or so.
- People would have woken up to the need to reduce the global population by consciously undertaking voluntary population control measures.
- Human greed and tendency to make bad investments would have lessened. Investments in the real estate would have fallen.
- People would have got used to a more hygienic lifestyle.
- People would have become humbled, and learnt to live in the moment and respect Nature.
- Spiritual and religious polarisations may have occurred. Many people would have differentiated the God concept from Nature and possibly become atheists.
- Many traditional and popular places of religious worship and pilgrimages, which had been profiting until now practically as commercial businesses, would have lost their attraction to a considerable extent. Many people would have lost faith in them.
- Many religious leaders and popular short-cut gurus would have lost their credibility and attraction for failing to do anything meaningful at the present. How long could they have thrived anyway on just talk and promises? They have been exposed.
- Governments would have become more dictatorial and adept at doing things as they are doing now, and people would have got used to following their orders obediently, without questioning. This is not such a bad thing as long their focus would be solely on the welfare of humans, without any bias or discrimination based on religious, caste or ethnic divisions. They would have learnt how to get job done. They would have mastered the art to negotiate and navigate through silly resistances of individual people and political parties, which had been virtually paralysing many democratically elected governments in the past.
- Countries would have learnt the need to be totally self-reliant. The current crisis has forced countries, and even individual states within them, to unilaterally take their own decisions. How the governments have reacted and responded to the current crisis will go down deep into the memory of stake holders, which may potentially impact on international trade, international travel and international education industry.
- The current crisis may have forced many countries to become more inward-looking and invest their resources in the (re)development of their own construction and manufacturing sectors, without relying too much on overseas partners. On the surface, this may appear as selfish but that is how it may logically turn out to be.
In short, on the Other Side, the world may look more like the world of 1950s, which not many of us have seen!
Many of us were waiting for it to happen for quite some time. It had to happen, as our globe seemed to be heating up too fast. Humans had to pay a big price for their own survival and sustainability. Thanks to coronavirus, we would otherwise have been heading towards our total annihilation given the arsenal we have proudly accumulated globally. We were consuming and living mechanically and mindlessly. As a significant price, albeit unfortunately, some humans had to die so that the remaining humans come to their senses and become more responsible towards one another, as well as take care of the environment and the eco-system. On the Other Side, humans would have learnt to live deliberately and responsibly, in harmony with Nature.
COVID-19 will undoubtedly break us down internally. It will crush our arrogance and ego and force us realise the truth. Our suffering will continue till we do not realise the humanness of our fellow humans, especially of the poor and the unprivileged. Our real growth will happen only when we are absolutely humbled, fallen on our knees, with our heads hanging low and looking for help, not from God but from our fellow humans, without caring about their religion, caste, ethnicity, wealth, colour or gender. At that point, we will see every human as a human, without label, as a child of Nature – a child of God. Unless we are deeply broken from within ourselves and woken up to the reality, our prayers will just overflow without having any effect. Our cracks allow our prayers to come from deep within us. Only after that, our meditation will help us to remain awakened.
It is time we faced up to the reality. It is time we faced life. It is time we faced ourselves and accept who we are and how we really look. It is time we admitted we made mistakes in the past and commit ourselves to we make the necessary amends. It is not the time to remain hidden behind illusion and run away from our physical reality and conscience. It is time we developed respect for experience and older people, and history.
What has happened had to happen; it had valid reasons to happen. We humans have been the prime reason why it has happened, how we bred, lived and worked, and our mindless consumption – what and how much we consumed greedily, everything. Now, there is no point in crying over the spilled milk, no point in being angry or rueful. Most importantly, there is no point in finger-pointing towards that country or blaming that community. A militarily fought World War III or an inter-community strife is the last things we can afford at this point of time when our very existence hinges in balance. Similarly, what happens in the future is not all within our individual control. In the meantime, therefore, it is prudent we live one day at a time as best as we can, within the confines and safety of our homes, follow all government instructions and medical advice, and take all possible care of ourselves, our families and friends, neighbours and the community at large, using all possible legal means.
We will survive, for sure. There will be light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a rosebush on the other side, far away, over the horizon. Hope … hope sustains life!
Note: This article reflects the author’s personal opinions. It is NOT a word of God.
… Bill Koul (4 April 2020)