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Coronavirus — a Blessing in Disguise?

We’ve needed these reflections and today that I see so many people asking them, or sympathizing with those who ask them, and it makes me optimistic.

Soccer Football - Campeonato Gaucho - Gremio v Sao Luiz - Arena do Gremio, Porto Alegre, Brazil - March 15, 2020    Gremio players wearing masks before the match is played behind closed doors as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world       REUTERS/Diego Vara
Soccer Football - Campeonato Gaucho - Gremio v Sao Luiz - Arena do Gremio, Porto Alegre, Brazil - March 15, 2020 Gremio players wearing masks before the match is played behind closed doors as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world REUTERS/Diego Vara

Life will return to normalcy after Coronavirus, but normalcy will not be what we know today. After the withdrawal symptoms from consumerism abuse subside, people will wake up to a new reality. The longer it takes for humanity to overcome COVID-19, the more different our post-Coronavirus lives will be.

The best case scenarios predict that a vaccine to the virus will be available to the public toward the end of 2020. How many businesses will survive a forced closure for that long? How many recreation and entertainment venues can stay out for that many months? And most important, what will our lives look like without them?

In my view, there will not be complete annihilation of recreation and entertainment, but there will be far less of it and in different ways. Can you picture it? Can you picture a life that does not consist of chasing assumed pleasures that almost always end up in dismay, which makes us look for the next promised bliss, only to find the next broken promise? What will satisfy us when the endless, futile pursuit of satisfaction is halted by force-majeure?

Right now, there are more questions than answers surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the obvious ones, such as when will a vaccine be found, there are very deep questions that this germ awakens. For example, it stops us from polluting the planet. By curbing flights, transportation, and production so radically, it drastically reduces our carbon imprint, improves the air quality, minimizes our depletion of natural resources, and generally makes humanity a dream come true for environment enthusiasts like Greta Thunberg and the millions who ache over the harm we are doing to our planet. So, is the virus all that bad? Or, maybe it’s bad for us and good for the rest of reality? But if that’s the case, then we’re at odds with reality, which is certainly not a good thing. How have we come to this?

As I said, it is still too early to answer these questions; we’re still in what the papers call “a developing story.” But when the dust sinks, there is no doubt that we will see a different picture from before it was kicked into the air.

Some Points of Reflection

Here are some of the things I reflect on these days:

#1 – If left alone, Nature is harmonious and balanced. When the balance is broken, such as when there is an overpopulation of one species, Nature finds a way to balance it either by increasing the number of predators of that species or by culling the excess number of animals in some other way. If Nature seems to attempt to cull us, I think we should ask why it is doing this. Have we become so deleterious to Nature that it is forced to discard of some of us?

#2 – If the virus is Nature’s way of culling humanity, would that imply that if we didn’t misbehave so badly, the virus wouldn’t happen?

There are even deeper questions we can ask:

#1 – So far, Coronavirus has been quite “gentle” with us. The number of casualties is relatively low and the symptoms are mostly mild. At the same time, we see that somehow, the virus has managed to disentangle all of our ties to one another; it is isolating us from each other, disassembling our previous way of life, yet does not threaten to altogether starve us. What does that mean for us? Could this be Nature’s way of telling us that the problem lies in our connections? If we were more empathetic to one another, more considerate, how would that impact the disease? Perhaps it wouldn’t since we should have been more empathetic and considerate to begin with and now it’s too late and we’re just going to have to ride out the storm and try to be different when it’s gone. But then, perhaps it would…

#2 – Also, Nature, as just said, is balanced. Humans are evidently not. We patronize Nature, patronize each other, and never stop playing “King of the [Dung] Hill.” We think what no creature thinks—that we are superior to Nature, that we can defeat it if we only try hard enough and long enough. Could this incongruence between the general nature and human nature be the cause behind the outbreak?

One way or the other, the virus, in its way, is a blessing in disguise. We’ve needed these reflections and today that I see so many people asking them, or sympathizing with those who ask them, and it makes me optimistic. We will find a vaccine to Coronavirus, but the question that bothers me the most is whether we will find a vaccine to the illness that has plagued us for centuries—our selfish human nature.

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