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Editor’s Note: Virtues in a Time of Global Pandemic

Editor’s Note: Virtues in a Time of Global Pandemic

From the past few weeks, nearly every human being on this planet is living a thought that reigns our mind eerily. The global populace, the normal life— as it is suggested— was in a rush about almost everything. The rush, if you did not participate at whatever pace, meant that you were lagging behind. That ‘normal’ rush, even if temporarily, now seems to have come to an end. A new normal has begun. This new normal, which we have not known before, is the urgency of hospitalizations, of screenings, of testing, of quarantining, and of declaring the toll of the pandemic.

In these difficult times, when the epidemic hysteria looms large, the policies— health, economic, public and so many more— otherwise celebrated are but least helpful. Instead, it is the virtues— kindness, generosity, compassion, and sensibility— which a human being naturally inherits define the natural order of life, and the civility. The world, the life in it, is dynamic, and the plagues and pandemics are the part of this dynamism which we cannot refuse to check, with history bearing witness to it.

In these times of suffering, which is usually unacceptable to humans, the best way to deal with it is to be enough humane and enough civil. With humanity, civility, and hope, this suffering shall pass and become another historical event. The worst way, however— towards what people are inevitably inclined— is to ridicule it and to create fear-psychosis for a fellow human which ensures little remedy. Though it is necessary, a social responsibility, and the duty that this plague is not taken lightly and that proper precautions are taken by those unaffected from it, while those affected must voluntarily take part in the ‘new normal’ of rushing to hospitals for checkups. The sick, having possible symptoms, must self-quarantine themselves and to never hide it at any cost.

Though it is high time for evaluating our health policies; at a time when highly advanced and developed countries like China and the United Kingdom reported major cases— it becomes impertinent to mention how weak our health policies are, how poor we medically equipped are. Thus, the only progressive step for such underdevelopment is high morale and higher social responsibility. Kashmir, which has high propensities towards rumours in hard times, is in need of immediate redressals to them. The rumours falsely based on religions— their validation neither confirmable nor substantial— obligates us to not indulge in its ploys while it also demands that we do not overlook it.

We know from history that there were more deadly epidemics like Black Death that killed around 50 million people in Europe, the Italian plague of 1630 that killed 280,000 people, the great plague of London of 1665 as well as the plagues in China during the 18th and 19th centuries. Three influenza pandemics occurred at intervals of several decades during the 20th century, the most severe of which was the so-called ‘Spanish Flu” (caused by an A(H1N1)  virus), estimated to have caused 20-50 million deaths in 1918-1919. Milder pandemics occurred subsequently in 1957-1958 (the “Asian Flu” caused by an A(H2N2) virus) and in 1968 (the “Hong Kong Flu” caused by an A(H3N2), which were estimated to have caused 1-4 million deaths each. People, however, survived these plagues, while those whom we lost to these epidemics reassure the inexorable cycle of life coming to an end— that everything born must die. With that life-cycle, this pandemic must die, too.

However uncertain life may be, however random events unfold before us, we as humans irrespectively plan our forthcoming steps, attempt to take control of things and take pride in the successes that are yielded from this hard work. In this time too, our plans, strategies, and attempts must be on how to keep ourselves safe and the people around us, especially children and the elderly having weak immunity. We must not forget the elderly people living alone, their children elsewhere or nowhere— our urgent efforts in reaching out to them are necessary, plus the extra effort to cheer them.

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There is an instinct in humans, to point out that ‘little’ bad from ‘enough’ good. The emphasis is, largely, always on negative rather than positive. Fear reigns over joy. Hope is diminished from despair. Any death, because of the epidemic, is global mourning. It must be. While the recovery from the epidemic also needs to be the moments of global rejoice. How rejoicing is the news of a 90 year old recovering in Washington?

Based on the diversity of our culture, background, understanding of life, knowledge of science; each of us looks at the current pandemic differently. What is needed at this hour of crisis is the understanding of how highly interlinked and integrated species we are, and it calls for all of us to adjust the focus of lens from individualism to collectivism.

The threat is real. Our challenge against this threat is the history for the coming generations. Doctors, volunteers, test labs, pharmacists, administrators are the challengers to this epidemic, their every effort a legend in the recording. We must appreciate them, support them and cooperate with them to the narrowest end. Our generosity is that highest virtue which fills all these people with hope, fighting for a collective cause to end collective suffering. Anyone taking proper precautions is the footnote of this history; he is the smaller yet essential component of the history and cannot be disregarded. For our history— to be the greatest record of civility and togetherness, and to be free of defiance and individualism— let us be compassionate. Let us be together. And let us be hopeful.

Ubaid Majeed, Editor-in-Chief


Too Long; Didn’t Read: Wash your hands often. Stay home. Do not wear masks if you’re asymptomatic or not in touch with sick people, donate them to the healthcare centres and people who need it most. And read. Check the infograph below. 

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