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Life lesson from coronavirus pandemic

What the coronavirus pandemic has taught us about life and death

Someone was dying. Lying in a hospital bed, gasping for breath, and burning with a fever—the symptoms were the same as thousands of other cases, and so was what came next. Death.

Doctors were helpless. Behind the masks, the creases of concern and fatigue on their faces were growing deeper with each passing day. No one had witnessed death on such a scale and from such close proximity, with hundreds of coffins being buried every day. And no one had imagined that millions around the world will succumb to this strange outbreak, and the world they knew would be changed forever.

The year was 1918, and the pandemic was the Spanish flu that killed indiscriminately and relentlessly. It was as if the flu had taken the baton from World War I that had just ended after four continuous years of horror and inhumanity. Once the outbreak ended, there was one common thought on everyone’s minds—it shouldn’t happen again.

Over 100 years later, the pandemic came back as COVID-19. Despite the advanced technology and tools at our disposal, humanity lost the initial rounds. The numbers of infected people were rising, hospital beds were crowded, and the stacks of caskets were piling up. After a long, dreadful month, the world found itself in the same spot of helplessness. It was as if the year 2020 had succeeded 1918.

Did we learn nothing from the past? The importance of life and the truth of death; the negligence of our actions and our pattern of taking things for granted—we run in circles repeating the same mistakes over and over until a fresh catastrophe knocks on the door ready to teach us a lesson we repeatedly forget.

Just like its predecessor, the coronavirus pandemic came with a vengeance and a lesson on life and death. Reminding us about the sanctity of life and the inevitability of death, the pandemic holds up a mirror for us to see the reflection of our mistakes.

Learning from the past

Philosopher and novelist, George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The real surprise is how quickly we tend to forget. Whether it’s World War I or World War II, the Spanish flu, or any other plague, we let history repeat its most evil and destructive chapters because we fail to take the responsibility of our actions. This responsibility is not just of the governments or politicians, but our individual duty as well—to choose and do what is right.

The wet markets that have been speculated to be ground-zero for the COVID-19 virus are of our misdoings. Whether the assumptions are correct or not, wet markets shouldn’t exist. This world belongs to every species, not just us. Every step we take today derives where we will end up in the future. The time is now to contemplate our actions. Otherwise, the past will never stop haunting us.

Taking life for granted, and death even more

Birth and death are grand, yet objectively small moments of life. Between them lie millions of similar moments where we shape our destiny, fulfil our dreams, fall in love, build a family. But since it’s a long journey, we tend to forget life is not endless. It can come to an end any time, any second.

When times are normal, how often do we count our blessings; that we are alive? We stop being grateful to the gift of life and experiences that write our stories. We cross roads while staring into our phones, make futile and risky videos for our social media channels, drive more than the speed limit—it’s an unending list of mindless actions. They tell us that we take life for granted, and death even more. If only we can take a moment to pause and look around; perhaps we will realise that what we take for granted is what many pray for.

We have come to a point in human history where scientists have issued warnings of only a handful of decades left to save the earth from irreversible damages.

Climate change, the conclusion of humanity 

Technology has made our daily lives simpler. Especially, within the confines of our homes. For instance, if we want to regulate the room temperature, we just have to hit a switch. And just like that, the temperature changes from scorching desert-like heat to icy winds. If only there was a similar switch to control the global environment.

We have come to a point in human history where scientists have issued warnings of only a handful of decades left to save the earth from irreversible damages. The rising sea-levels, melting glaciers, uncontrollable wildfires, unbearable summers are the warnings given by nature. It is as if nature is screaming at us to stop with our irresponsible actions, or else it will take matters in its own hands. And it’s no secret that the consequences of unbridled climate change would be far deadlier than any war or pandemic, combined. But we must act now to prevent our future from turning dystopian.

The coronavirus pandemic has set a stage for us to save our planet. The air is clean, the pollution levels are reduced, industrial waste has hit a new low. Once the lockdown will be removed, it’ll be up to us to decide what future we want for us, for our children, and for our planet.

Time to look back and look forward

Largely, there are two occasions when a person introspects. Once, when there is a mid-life crisis. And second, during their last days. For a life that has thousands of experiences and countless lessons that shape our journey, re-evaluating it just twice doesn’t sound right. It deserves way more than that.

The current pandemic has brought with itself a great amount of misery, but also an opportunity, hidden in disguise. An opportunity to look back at life and inspect the mistakes that led us here, and look forward to where we want to go next. It will require us to think carefully—do we want another crisis or a safe, brighter future for all?

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