While the media is busy covering the war in Ukraine, Covid has returned to haunt humanity. In China, more than fifty million people are on tight lockdown; in Hong Kong, the number of dead is rising; in Israel, the reproduction number (R) is climbing fast and is now well beyond the spreading mark of 1. If we thought Omicron was contagious, the new strain, BA.2, is 30 percent more so, and hybrid variants like the Deltacron are emerging, too. New strains and new waves will keep appearing until we learn all that we need to learn from the virus.
The virus is not here to teach us about itself; it is here to teach us about us. We think of these waves as waves of Covid-19, but they are not. The original strain is virtually gone; we are dealing with a different virus because we ourselves are different. This is why the vaccines that defeated the original strain are no longer effective.
As I said from the first appearance of the virus in early 2020, this virus, or its “relatives,” is here to stay. It needs to teach us how to live more peacefully and harmoniously with each other and with nature, and it will not leave until we learn.
We may not have noticed it, but the virus has already done a great deal of teaching. Our career aspirations have changed dramatically. Suddenly, everyone is talking about The Great Resignation and the fact that so many people now prefer to work from home.
Many people have also become content with less money in return for more peace of mind. The movement toward a four-day workweek is also gaining momentum around the world. Even in Asia, known for its workaholism, big corporations such as Panasonic and others have switched, or are in the process of switching to a four-day workweek.
Traditional education is also falling from grace. “Until 2019, the number of homeschooled students had been growing by between 2% to 8% each year. From 2019 to the fall of 2020, the percentage of homeschooled students changed from 3.4% to 9%.” According to the National Home Education Research Institute, “there were about 3.7 million homeschool students in 2020-2021 in grades K-12 in the United States (roughly 6% to 7% of school-age children).”
These are not minor changes. Fewer working people means more modest consumption, less congestion on the roads, especially if people are working from home, and more family time. Likewise, homeschooled children require a parent to stay home and tend to the education and occupation of the children. This, again, affects many other aspects of society.
This is why I think that Covid is not a punishment but a correction. The only reason that we feel this correction as painful is that we resent the change, so nature imposes it on us.
At our current level of narcissism, without restraint from the outside, we might destroy ourselves and the world with us. The war in Ukraine is only an example of what pride and power-hunger can inflict. Therefore, I think we should be grateful to Covid’s restraints. We are counting its victims, but we have no idea what catastrophes its appearance has prevented.
That said, I do not think we should continue to suffer its restraints. Since nature imposes corrections on us, and we have no choice but to obey, as is clearly the case, we can impose these corrections on ourselves instead of inviting nasty bugs to do it for us.
All we need to correct is our egoistic behavior. To do that, we need to be aware that in a world that has become totally interconnected, thinking that we can take all that we want regardless of others and enjoy other people’s pain is not only reckless, but destructive to everyone, including to ourselves.
We need to understand that if we want to subjugate other people, even in thought, much less in action, we are harming ourselves and our environment. No other being but humans have such evil, narcissistic thoughts. If we annihilate them from within us, we will put an end to war, hunger, exploitation, abuse, tyranny, and everything else that plagues our world. If we are reluctant to learn, the viruses will clear out these plagues from humanity.