The main discourse you hear in the media concerns how fast and how much to reopen the economy. No one seems to ask why we should open it at all. No one asks if the businesses that were shut down were doing any good to anyone besides their owners, and if closing them was not actually better for the rest of us. COVID-19 gave us a chance to examine everything that we’ve consumed and decide what we really need. Yet, somehow, we seem to shun the opportunity.
It would be one thing if we were only missing out on a chance to add value to our lives by choosing what was good for us and rejecting the redundant. But the real problem is far worse: The excessive consumerism causes us to deplete Earth’s resources, exploit one another, and waste money we could put to much better use than on accessories, gadgets, and paraphernalia that we will trash within a year when the trend changes.
What is even worse is that because we’re not learning the lesson that we should have learned from COVID-19, a much worse outbreak will follow soon, which will not hurt mostly the sick and elderly, and whose mortality rate will be minimal. We will be hit by a plague that will hurt children and grownups, its mortality rate will be far higher than COVID-19, and the recovery from it will be far slower, harder, and far more painful. We can wait for this to happen, but we can also get over the reopening obsession and see that the coronavirus has brought us to a whole new world.
Covertly, the virus has ushered us into a new era. It is as if we drove into a new country where we don’t know the culture or the manners, so we’re behaving as we did in our previous country. But in this new place, people behave differently: They aren’t competing. They are sharing, considerate, they care for one another, and they do not tolerate exploitation.
In the new country, people don’t enjoy shopping. They go to the store to get what they need, and spend the rest of their time with one another. Since technology has developed to a point where very few people need to work in production, the majority of people simply socialize. Since they are connected and feel close to one another, they do not suffer from manmade ailments like depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, or violence. And since they spend most of their time socializing, their idols are people who excel at bringing people’s hearts closer.
We, humankind, have been admitted into this country. We are still oblivious to it, but we are already there. This is why all of a sudden nothing works but for no apparent reason. In this new country, we are taking baby steps. And just like babies, we must think twice or three times before we take another step.
There is no need to fear; it is not a hostile country. If we think positively about others, the new country will embrace us and teach us what to do and how. All that it demands of us is to try to learn how to connect, rather than how to control, which is what we were taught in our previous home.
The dream world we have been looking for, where everyone is happy, is nowhere in particular. It is within us. The old world is cracking and breaking apart, and the new world, the new reality is emerging. Just as our ill-willed thoughts created the old world, our new thoughts are engendering a new world. These are thoughts about connection, bonding, and mutual concern, yet we are still mostly ignorant of their presence. Nevertheless, they are already strong enough to break our obsolete world apart.
All births are painful and all beginnings are tough, but we can make it that much easier by wanting to take part. If we resist, our birth will be a painful one. If we partake in the process of our own volition, it will be a wonderful experience. After all, what could be better than coming to a place where everyone genuinely wants to befriend you, and you want to befriend them?
[Photo by Marcin Kempa on Unsplash]