June 23, 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged humanity and is continuing to wreck human life. The daily news has become nauseating, frightening and even repelling. The fear that this virus may invade me, my family, and my near and dear ones is a daily worry; it looks like the virus is just standing to ingress my house and plague my people. Really, we are petered out of listening, reading the daily messages that come on social media, of social distance, sanitization, masks…. The Lockdown! My goodness, has generated its own fears and trembles. The everyday rush for the day to day needs, the fear of being spotted, even beaten by the cops, the tension of vehicles being seized, the stress that we may not get the necessary provisions for the family, are the new items in the family menu. Moreover, the pressure is mounting with a minor cold, slight fever, mild headache which in the yester times were considered to be routine illnesses; these have become today monsters of a possible separation, quarantine and why not a gradual death. Hélas, we are all tired of this, tired of sitting inside, tired of hearing the daily narratives of Covid tragedies, tired of looking for vaccines; the human psyche is fractured, broken.
In the face of such an untold human pain and vicissitude, man is witnessing two sides of human reality which really puzzles, disturbs and even rocks my very being. The silver line side of humanity in the process of this pandemic is manifested in the goodness and absolute bountifulness of human beings. The Covid panorama has brought out some of the best aspects of humanness; humanity. It is ostensible in the people who risk their lives so as to save the life of the other. Look at those doctors, nurses, auxiliary staff who work incessantly in the hospitals and attend to the needs of the sick, knowing very well that they could be contaminated any time and thereby lose their lives. I can only admire them. It is so painful to learn that so many doctors, nurses, have lost their lives; I just salute them and pray for their families. Look at those people who have taken the risk and gone out to pick up Covid patients, drive them to the hospital, bring food, wash clothes, and bury the dead… Moreover, how can we forget those ordinary human beings who sit in the market places in sun and rain and bring necessary groceries for us…? Look at those police and other personnel in-charge of law and order, standing whole day on the roads. The list does not stop here; there are scores of men and women doing yeomen service, some seen and heard and many unseen, silently doing wonderful, generous and stupendous human service sacrificing their time, wealth, health, family, leisure…. These human beings are the saints of our times. They deserve the highest titles and honours a nation, a church/temple/mosque can give. They are the real heroes, of humanity. If humanity is rich, civilized, humane, it is thanks to these women and men, for the sacrifice and indomitable courage they have displayed. No words, no poems, no rewards match their sacrifice. These humans make us feel happy, proud, joyful and exuberate beams of hope.
But alas, the flip side of the human story is dastardly monstrous. The pandemic time has been a time for some Lucifers to rise from their slumber. The pandemic has brought to light, very sadly, the venomous wickedness and filthiness of man. There have been people, during this time, who have engaged in making maximum profits and trade on human tragedy. People unruffled at the sight of the death of the poor, marginalized, weak, helpless and tried to suck money and benefits. People who have pushed out persons infected with this virus, treated them as dung heaps, refused even to give them their last dignity of a decent human burial. People who have declined to talk, interact, give a consoling phone call to people affected including members of the family. This side of human story is shocking, heinous and flabbergasting.
Thus we humans, you and me, are enface of an existential puzzle: Why is it that human being on the one hand is so good, noble minded, ready for any sacrifice, ready to die for others, ready to go to any extent to save the life of the others and in the same vein on the other side, man is so cruel, devilish, self-absorbed and even nasty. This puzzle requires a serious reflection, an introspection and a rigorous audit on the humanity of humans. The Covid-19 saga is an invitation to tilt humanity from its wickedness towards blessedness; from selfishness to sacredness, from darkness to brightness. To put it in the words of Rabindranath Tagore: “Man’s abiding happiness is not in getting anything but in giving himself up to what is greater than himself, to ideas which are larger than his individual life, the idea of his country, of humanity, of God.”