What Covid-19 is telling us

Covid-19 came to save us, not to destroy us. It came to save the humanity, the Mother Earth and all sentient beings. 

To understand what is happening now, we need to understand how our life and this universe work. We need to understand that everything in this universe operates within a certain balance. The balance is going way off and it needs an urgent reset.

We, humans, have become too greedy, too arrogant, too selfish, and too unethical. This planet does not belong to only humans—it belongs to all sentient beings, seen and unseen. For decades, scientists, environmentalists and environmental organizations have been warning us about global warming, climate change, environmental degradation, and air and water pollution. They have been begging the world leaders to do something about it, before it gets too late. But no one is listening. 

Covid-19 is telling us to urgently reset the balance on two critical lifelines: water and air. No creature can exist without them. With no vaccine and treatment for coronavirus, washing hands has become the most effective ways to protect our selves. This reminds us of the value of clean water and the urgent need for its protection. In severe cases, people infected with coronavirus are dying of breathing difficulty and lack of oxygen in their blood. Those who survive are recovering with the help of ventilators. This reminds us of the value of clean air and the critical need to control air pollution. If we go on polluting the air the way we do now, soon we may have to carry personal ventilators with us all the time. 

Covid-19 has compelled us to stay home and work from home. It has also compelled every country to slow down on travel and tourism. This cuts down on all modes of transport that contribute to air pollution and fossil fuel consumption. Environmental degradation, air pollution, and fossil fuel consumption contribute to global warming that leads to glacial lake outbursts and floods. This will eventually dry up all our rivers and water sources.

Covid-19 is telling us to slow down. It is telling us to stop being too busy, wasting our precious time on things that do not really matter. It came to help us reprioritize, reorganize and reset our work-life balance. It came to make us take better care of our parents and grandparents, giving them the care, affection and love they need and deserve. Covid-19 is telling us to take better care of our children—help them learn at home and online, and teach them important values. It is also telling us to take better care of ourselves—read books, learn new skills, do regular exercise, eat healthy, and connect with our inner and higher selves, through meditation, prayers and spiritual practices.

Covid-19 came to help us reset the balance on governance. It came to expose the shortcomings of leaders who do not take their job seriously. It came to test their courage, skills, wisdom and character. It came to reset our misplaced priorities. Every nation is reorganizing their budget, giving priority to healthcare and other social welfare programs. Every nation is also emphasizing on self-sufficiency in agriculture, foods and other essential products. 

Covid-19 came to reset the balance on people’s greed. It is reminding us of the need to give, share and help the less fortunate among us, and to contribute to the common good. With stock prices falling and global economic recession setting in, people’s savings and wealth can quickly disappear. It is the insatiable human greed that is causing all the ills—environmental degradation, global warming, corruption, injustice, inequality, violence and other human sufferings. We need to keep in mind the words of Alanis Obomsawin: “When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”

Covid-19 is telling us to reset the balance on our faith and spirituality. It is reminding us of the power of prayer, compassion, and empathy. This crisis is bringing people together, in a spirit of unity and solidarity, to work and overcome challenges together. People are coming forward to help each other—supporting the government, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and healthcare experts dealing with the pandemic. People are donating to emergency response funds, volunteering to serve on the frontlines, supporting those who have lost their jobs and incomes, and offering free meals and free accommodations to those undergoing quarantine. Financial institutes are deferring loan repayments and forgoing interest on all loans for a few months. Farmers are distributing free vegetables and other farm products, house owners are reducing rents, and spiritual leaders and religious communities are offering prayers for protection and wellbeing of all sentient beings.

Covid-19 is reminding us of the ultimate reality of life. The reality of impermanence and uncertainty—the fact that we do not live forever and that change is the only constant. The reality of interdependence and interconnectedness, the fact that we are all connected, that we depend on each other for our individual and collective wellbeing and survival. 

Our country, under the enlightened leadership of our Kings, has been doing our part. Following a balanced, holistic and human centered development approach, we have taken good care of our environment. We have more than 72% of our land area under forest cover and our constitution mandates that we maintain at least 60% of our land area under forest cover for all time. We are perhaps the only carbon negative country in this world and we have committed to remain carbon neutral for all time. We have perhaps the highest per capita fresh water and have been identified as one of the ten most important bio-diversity hot spots in the world. Under the same development approach, we have also preserved our rich culture, values and spirituality. 

But unfortunately, on global stage, we are too small and our voice too soft to generate large scale impact and change. 

This crisis too shall pass. Hopefully, the end will come sooner than later. Hopefully, it’ll not destroy too many lives. Hopefully, it will not leave behind an irreparable economic crisis. When it ends, every individual, every family and every nation will face an important choice. Do we go back to the old normal or, learning from the lessons of Covid-19, choose the new normal. Hopefully, most countries will choose the latter—and start taking serious care of the environment. Hopefully, most countries will start taking better care of the common people, investing more in healthcare and other social welfare programs. Hopefully, most people will start spending more time with their family and loved ones—and take better care of them. 

Covid-19 came to show us the middle path. It came to save us, not to destroy us. It came to stop us from destroying the Mother Earth and ourselves. 

Contributed by

Sonam Jatso

Entrepreneur

Thimphu

17122553

sjatso2020@gmail.com

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