Transcending limits ( Lessons from Pandemic)-Express Tribune

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Historic moments warrant introspections and reflection. The contemporary pandemic-ridden world seems to be at the crossroads. The prevailing onslaught of Covid-19 against humankind calls for a comprehensive contemplation on what went wrong in our quest for modernisation. The pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented crisis, the likes of which the world has not seen since World War II. Rather than viewing it as a traditional fleecing event, we need to mull over the lessons the pandemic is trying to teach us. When deliberating, one may be forced to conclude that something is wrong with what we have been doing. We shouldn’t be oblivious of an inevitable principle: one gets what one gives. When we harm nature, nature harms us back.

Among all creatures, humankind is high up the evolutionarily ladder due to unmatched cognitive abilities and intellectual prowess. These intellectual abilities were inherently aimed at distinguishing good and evil, and regulating life on earth in a manner that benefits not only humans but their surroundings. Paradoxically, humans have outstepped and outreached their assigned authority and overestimated themselves as an omnipotent entity enjoying complete impunity of all their activities regardless of their impacts. Rather than running the affairs and utilising the intellect and bounties in a just and sustainable manner, men have badly embezzled with nature’s resources at the cost of destruction of other forms of life and of natural ecosystem. The recently released UN IPCC’s terrifying sixth assessment report on the anthropogenic destruction of global climate is but a single instance of mankind’s high-handedness against their surrounding environment. Even men didn’t spare his fellow beings.

A few in the world hold majority of the wealth — the result: millions of people are currently consumed by poverty, hunger and disease. The rich-poor divide widens as time passes by. Global poverty and wide-scale inequality are on the rise. Laws are made and broken for and by the rich, while the poor remain entangled in them. Merciless pogroms are a norm. The week dies of being preyed and consumed by capitalist predators. The tyranny against and persecutions of the weak, and the atrocities of rulers over their subjects have surged as time passes by. The growing scourge of terrorism and extremism, rising populism and demagoguery, and fascist political leadership is the new normal. Mass adulteration, hoarding, black-marketing, organised crimes, cheating, lying, manipulating, exploitating have all become common traits of our culture.

There is an ever-rising trend of flattery and hypocrisy, while everything remains centered around material success. Morality, ethos, empathy and compassion are all considered as outdated notions. One might wonder how is NASA even thinking of colonising Mars if we have utterly failed to learn to live peacefully on earth despite being here for millenniums.

Though heinous acts may go unattended or unpunished by our judicial system, we must realise the earth has its own system of justice. Floods, droughts, forest fires, heat waves, tsunamis, epidemics, earthquakes, torrential rains and violent volcanic eruptions are just a few of the consequences that have come about due to our actions. COVID-19 among other cataclysms questions the sustainability of the existing global order and the underlying principles of globalisation. The pandemic has given humankind the opportunity to rethink and reform existing socio-political and economical orders in line with principles of egalitarianism, eco-friendlessness, compassion and empathy. Rather than wasting resources on weapons, we must utilize it for the underprivileged, the poor and the weak. Since we have already prospered materially, we now need to invest in humanity if we want to shield ourselves from nature’s wrath and anthropogenic adversities in future.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2021.