Looking back: How we’ve fared in the pandemic

With all the upheaval that has happened in these strange times, how many of us have managed to hold on to our sense of humanity? And how many have chosen the every-man-for-himself path?

As I look back over the time since Covid-19 was declared a global health emergency, I have found myself thinking of the many, many, many things that should have happened, but didn’t. Events that were at advanced stages of planning, surgeries and other medical procedures that had been scheduled way before, dreams that had finally crystallised and were ready for execution, career moves that were only days away, income sources that only awaited the bank deposit, anniversaries that were just hours from mega celebrations, wedding and graduation gowns that were finally acquired…

Many of these events came to a screeching halt!

Most have had to be reset, reorganised, abandoned and even, in some cases, completely written off because the people with and for whom we planned them have since become casualties of the pandemic.

As at the time this article was being published, some 558,090 people who were with us when the pandemic was first declared are no more. All that their husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends have left are memories. Another 7,246,128 or so have a story to tell about how they lived through a personal encounter with the coronavirus.

The figures are staggering, and that can be a problem for us. The more we lose, the higher our tendency to develop coping mechanisms – we cease to cry; we cease to see faces, and somehow have reached the strange place where we actually celebrate the news that the number of deaths is reducing! Since when did death – any death – become a reason for celebration? In communities where Covid-19 infections are seen as something not to be talked about, we are actually relieved to announce that our lost loved ones “did not have Covid-19!”

Countries are rushing to announce reduced death numbers – as if our primary purpose in life is merely not to die. On the other hand, governments that may be trying to cash in on the pandemic are exaggerating their figures so they can cause fear, control their populations and make money under the guise of “responding to coronavirus”. How low has man fallen? What happened to our sense of humanity?

While Covid-19 has brought out the best in mankind, it has also shown our dark side in ways we never could have imagined.

It has revealed friends and written off others.

It has exposed the phonies and pretenders in our lives.

It has revealed clean hearts and dark ones alike.

It has shown those who truly care for others and those who care only for themselves.

It has shown just how fickle human compassion can be, and just how futile the pursuit of life for its own sake can become. 

And as for that wealth – stolen or accumulated – we now know that when you are locked in and cannot show off your wealth; when your latest acquisitions and latest travel schedules cannot help you; when the exotic food you ate last night is of no consequence to anyone… then we realise the truth of what is written in the Bible: It is all meaningless under the scorching sun!

More than anything else, this pandemic has made clear not just what matters in our ever-cluttered lives, but who matters. If you are still able to weep at the suffering of man, at the death of yet another relative; if the news of losses around the world still makes you cringe with pain; if you can still reach out to a friend, or someone you perhaps lost contact with; if you can ask: “How are you?” and genuinely wait for an answer or say: “Good morning” and mean it from the heart… then you are a very rare breed.

If you are still opening your wallet to relieve another man’s hunger; if you are still attending those funerals, even virtually; if you have managed to maintain your humanity, your compassion, your love for others… then even if no one else celebrates you, go on and celebrate yourself.

Because you are truly one of a kind.