Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Coronavirus and the Human Species

More than 2,500 years ago, Gautam Buddha preached the Four Noble Truths; suffering or dukh was central to his teachings, but he also found the path that leads to the end of dukh.
The Covid-19, which emanated from Wuhan in China, has bought immense dukh to the human species, and it may not be over.
But while it has been a tragedy for many on the planet, it has also brought sukh, happiness to the rivers, flora, fauna …and even some human beings.
A pertinent query: will we, the humans, learn something from the blow or will everything start again like before?
The confinement has forced many of our species to have better quality relationship with our dear ones, children or parents; something which had been forgotten for years or for certain, had never been known.
The planetary developments of the last few weeks have strangely brought both sukh or dukh, though the post-confinement era may witness hard times for hundreds of millions.
But at present, WhatsApp groups and software like Zoom have become over-popular (in the latter’s case, it was rightly banned by Delhi for Government’s offices, when it was found that some of the traffic was discretely transiting via China).
I personally joined one of these groups with my French family with whom I hardly communicated in normal times. In the course of an exchange, a six-year old nephew was asked if the confinement was not too hard for him; he took no time to answer, “I would like it to last 1000 years.”
For the first time in his life (with the exception of holidays), he had both his parents with him from morning to evening; of course, he had to do some home work, but his teacher was his own mom, what a delight even for home work! And his father was here too to play, watch a cartoon with him and help him to put on a disguise. He will certainly remember all his life the ‘good days’ of the confinement.
It does not mean that there is no hardship around and that to remain stuck in a small flat is pure sukh. It is where the tragedy is so special, it has struck deeply the human species alone, infecting so far more than two and half million human beings and killing nearly two lakh persons. Can humans realize that we are perhaps the most fragile (and the most foolish) species on the planet?
Many other species are doing well, not only the wild species which were once sold on the wet market in Wuhan, which may now survive, but also all these animals seen in viral videos exploring the great empty cities of the humans.
Many rivers are doing well too.
Some scientists noted that the water quality of Ganga has gone through such a change that it is in some cases fit for drinking. It was reported that the Ganga water had become good for Achaman (ritual sipping) in Haridwar.
In both Haridwar and Rishikesh, water quality has seen tremendous improvements with industries closed, people confined at home and no tourists.
The main reason is a 500 percent decrease in total dissolved solids (TDS), industrial effluent, sewage from dharamshalas, hotels and lodges. We had conveniently forgotten that religious tourism pollutes too.
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, an NGO doing remarkable work on environment, suggested that it may be the way forward for pollution control mechanisms in the country. To do so, studies will have to be undertaken in a number states including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, among others; the rivers involved include the Sutlej, Buddha Nullah, Cauvery, Ulhas, Waldhuni, besides Ganga and Yamuna.
Another question comes again and again, when the virus is dead and gone, will the human species start again destroying the planet, can men, like the Buddha did more than two millennia ago, men analyze the tragedy and identify what is the cause of dukh and find the way to a greater sukh?
Another small improvement: constant nasty political fights between the Majority and Opposition has somehow get subdued (this is valid for all nations); instead of playing a constructive role to built their nation, the opposition usually plays a shooting game, arguing black when the government says white and vice-versa; on its part, the government is more than often not interested in the opposition, as it has got the Mandate to govern for the next few years. The virus seems to have brought a relative truce and it is a positive development; can one day the only objective of our political leaders be the well-being of the citizens, more particularly the less privileged sections of the species?
Another remark; the Coronavirus seems to be atheist. Several religious congregations thought their respective gods or messiahs were protecting them, it has not been the case; whether in Nizamuddin, which sent the virus spreading throughout India; in Mulhouse, where a religious congregation has been the main hotspot in France; in some Jewish temples in Israel where the priests thought that they were invincible. Many other cases could be cited like a Christian preacher in Louisiana, USA defying rightly worried authorities or those in Pakistan who held a gathering of nearly a quarter of a million in late February, despite warnings of coronavirus; they all became ‘super-spreaders’. Does this mean that the Covid-19 does not like religious extremism or exclusivism? Nobody can answer today, but the fact remains that nobody has been spared.
The ultimate question is: is the human able to become more human?
The time has perhaps come for the human species to think of its past deeds, it is also vital to the future of the planet?
In the meantime, since January the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has engaged in a major propaganda campaign, doing everything it could possibly do to cover up what made coronavirus become a global pandemic.
The CCP Central Propaganda Department is aggressively attempting to avoid getting the blame for what it has done.
But a backlash has already started. Julian Reichel, the editor of the popular German Bild magazine wrote an open letter to President Xi Jinping: “China is known as a surveillance state that infected the world with a deadly disease. That is your political legacy.”
China has to realize that the time is not for aggressiveness, but for introspection; today, the virus has raised the question of the survival of our peculiar species.

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