Coronavirus – Reminding Us of Our Shared Humanity, Our Imminent Mortality, and Why Our Choice Still Matters?

Our Shared Humanity

The outbreak of the new Coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) has brought a crisis unlike any other in recent history. This could be the first crisis after World War 2 to impact the entire human population.

If nothing else, this outbreak is a reminder of our shared humanity. This virus has not distinguished between race, religion, skin color or nationality as it has crossed borders and infected millions.

This reminds us all that we are all together in our fight for survival on this planet. Ironically, this pandemic has distracted us from infighting and showed us how meaningless our arguments, conflicts and wars are.

Yet, there is nothing new about it. It is the same old story which our species has witnessed many times in the past. Though this is the first time in history that such a pandemic has struck after a gap of almost a century. Isn’t that something to feel good about?

History Repeats Itself

When an unknown disease strikes and leaves people sick and dead in no time, the way we humans react has not changed. We panic. Doctors are baffled as health systems crumble under pressure. Fear helps rumours and conspiracy theories spread.

By the time governments (or kingdoms in earlier times) realise what is happening, steps taken are already too few and too late. Some succeed, others not so much. Criticism of decisions abound. Events are cancelled. Travel is restricted. People stay at home because of fears – both real and imagined. Trade vanishes and economies plunge.

This has been as true today as it was during the Spanish Flu of 1918, or the Antonine Plague of 165, or the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) from 1346, the London Plague of 1665, or several cholera pandemics in the 18th and 19th centuries.

As the current pandemic (COVID-19) spreads, we must also be aware of our blessings compared to the past. Never before in human history have we known so much about diseases, viruses and bacteria; about the human body and treatments, medicines and vaccination. And that makes us better prepared than we ever have been to tackle a pandemic like this.

When disaster struck in earlier pandemics, we were left to the whims of godmen and quacks, who described diseases as a curse from the gods and prescribed treatments ranging from animal sacrifice to bloodletting, which often did more harm than good.

If we compare that to the kind of specialised care we receive today in our hospitals equipped with highly skilled doctors, and machines like ventilators, ECMOs, etc; we should really be counting our blessings.

Is This The Worst Crises of My Life?

Is This The Worst Crises of My Life?

Our Imminent Mortality

This pandemic also reminds us where we are all headed – towards death. No one, irrespective of where we live or what religion or race we belong to, is spared from our shared destination.

While we know a lot about our bodies and the world now, this crisis is a reminder that there is still a lot which is outside our control. We can’t take our health systems, our medical knowledge, and our bodies for granted – for the unknown natural disaster or a new virus can strike anytime.

Being aware of how little we actually control in our lives and how easily all that we crave and desire can be swept away can give us a new perspective on life, a perspective which can shape each decision and action we take from now on.

It would be a terrible waste if we only experience the worst of humanity in this crisis – the fear, the hatred, the panic, the anxiety, and the selfishness; and ignore the other side of the coin – which is how a crisis like this also bring virtues of kindness, service, courage, humility and companionship to the surface.

We Have A Choice

When this crisis is over, and it will be soon, the world will not waste time to resume all the economic activity. We will get busy with our jobs and other trivial stuff we used to do before it.

This crisis will leave us wounded yet wise, hopeful yet cautious, and perhaps most importantly – helpless yet also empowered to see and make the brave choices when we have to.

The choice to look beyond the valleys of fear and darkness; and up towards the peaks of hope and light.

The choice to go deeper than our fear and anxiety of the unknown; and to see through the light at the end of the tunnel.

The choice to think for ourselves critically and rationally; and to ignore the rumours, naysayers and the fear mongers.

The choice to ignore those making noise and breaking things; and to join those who are making attempts to repair things.

The choice to decide whom to give our attention – to the media which sensationalise and is toxic for our mental health, or to the rare few who enrich us with facts, hope and a pathway for moving ahead despite of how difficult that path might be.

References :-

The Crap Trap of This World

Let me try to sum up what I am thinking right now in as few words as possible.

The Crap Trap of Life

The Crap Trap of Life

We live in a system, a system of education, work, family and life – which tells us about how to do things and how not to. You pursue your favorite education course to get that dream job. You get paid for doing that, just like everyone else around you. You see and experience that you must earn more so that you can spend more, to buy a product or service which will make you happy, or let you do something you enjoy. But after some time, you will have to go back and earn so that again you can spend. So that you can do what you enjoy.

There are rules for how to get loans to buy your dream car or your dream house. There are rules for how to raise your kids. And you have no option but to continue working in that job you know is not the best way for you to spend your eight hours of each day. You have hardly any time to think in the daily commotion of life, and so days, months and years pass by. And before you know, you are old and you die. This is what I call the CRAP TRAP!

The only good news - It is our Choice

The only good news - It is our Choice

Doesn’t it sound like you are in a maze ? In this maze we see only the next turn and assume that we are going ahead when we are only moving in a cycle. A day is a cycle, and similarly so is a week, month and year. You get your hair cut and it grows back up, similarly you do a job and it needs to be done tomorrow again. It is never finished, and we all live through the same cycle.

In this stupid maze, where are ‘WE‘? What are we doing? Or are we even doing something? Would anything change if someone would suck us out of this maze? Would life change in the maze?

I believe we all are the change we leave behind in this world (the maze) when we die. Everything else we do is non-consequential. The only thing that matters is the disturbance or change you leave behind. Did you leave the world any better or worse? Did you create a ripple in the universe?

The good news is that it is all our CHOICE.

The Two Kinds of Choices and Decisions

Life throws us many choices at different times. When we pass school, we have a choice of college. After college, we have a choice of jobs. And so on. How we take decisions based on these choices decide what future results we will reap, and the consequences we might have to bear. All choices can be broadly classified into two types, one with multiple options and one without such privilege.

Let me explain further. Decisions like choosing a college or a job, or buying new shoes are the ones where we have multiple choices. We might choose between two or more colleges, and then based on some reasons and criteria, we decide on one. In such choices, we actually use our rational minds, measure the pros and cons of each option, and then choose the one which suits us better. For example – when I had to buy my bike, I took a look at Bullet, Thunderbird, Machismo and the Bajaj Avenger. Then, based on criteria like money, reason of buying, my ability to handle the bike, I decided which one to buy and went ahead and bought the Royal Enfield Thunderbird.

But life presents us with another kind of a choice too. The one where there is only one option. Yes, you read it right. Only one option. And we have to choose it, whether we like it or not, whether our reasons or criteria are met or not. There is no other way. If we choose it, we can be happy for what life has given us, be glad for it and look ahead into the future. If we don’t accept it, we can keep fighting with ourselves or with life, but there is no way out as there is no other option.

Now if I have confused you, that was not my intention. Let me explain by giving an example. Some of us are born in rich households, some of us in poor. When we are born, life says “Here are your parents, choose them!!”. It doesn’t present you options of what kind of parents you want, so that you can choose between a few of them. There is only one option, whether you like it or not. Now it is up to us to accept it or not, but that doesn’t change anything?

You might say that this is not a choice. It is something fixed which we can’t change, and I can’t put it under choices. You might even say that a choice is only when we have multiple options. My take is that even here there are two options, to accept it or not to do so. However this acceptance doesn’t change anything as we can’t change what life has chosen for us. The only thing our acceptance changes is how we move ahead in the future.

The most difficult choices are those when there is only one option for us

The most difficult choices are those when there is only one option for us


Let me give one more example. My mom is a cancer patient. I didn’t want her to have cancer. Nobody would. But life threw this at me, “Your mother has cancer. Choose!“. That shook me, and I couldn’t accept it at all. How can this happen to me? How can this happen to my mother? I blamed one and all, got angry and frustrated, and just couldn’t believe what all was happening? I believewe all have been in such situations where we don’t know what hit us. And we don’t know how to react. Why? Because there is no other option!!

Yes, no other option. Life has chosen this option for us, and presented us with a choice to accept it or not. But the option (cancer and our parents) is ours to keep. We can do nothing to change that. We can give reasons, fight or blame whomever we want, but we can’t choose another option as there is none. The only option we have is to accept it or not. And we must choose, even in this case. Let me explain why?

When I could not choose the fact that my mother has cancer, I was angry, frustrated, sad and dejected at the same time. This doesn’t change the reality a bit, but it impacted me, my surroundings and the people around me. All this frustration might have been coming out of my want to have a good life and caring for my mother, but it ended up doing the opposite. By being resentful, I only made things worse. For myself, and for others around me.

It took me a long time to finally choose this. And when I did, there were no questions like why or how to answer. There was complete freedom. Now I am able to spend quality time with my mother (knowing that it might be scarce), and also am able to find the best possible treatment option for her. But all that was not possible until I had completely chosen it. There was a new found peace, and all the things which mattered to me, my health, joy in life and giving my best to my mother, all automatically fell into place.

It might be difficult to grasp as a concept, but it is a fact. Sometimes life will take away a loved one, sometimes you will suddenly meet an accident and suffer heavy injuries, and the best we can do at that time is to happily choose them with faith

That doesn’t mean that I would want myself to get injured, or want a loved one to die, but at the same time, it is only wise to realize when life has made a choice for us. There is only one way we can move ahead in life and that is by choosing such choices. Or else we will be stuck in life while time moves on, and this causes friction. And this friction shows up as anger, sadness, blame and resentment. Choose it and you will be free and start moving ahead with peace and freedom.