Like rarely before, people now worry in the West and, in equal measure, in the East and South and North. Not for a long time have we had an “opportunity” to worry about one common ordeal; a virus that threatens to become more widespread unless we staunchly follow governmental measures and leaders across the globe escalate the level of cautiousness and precaution from a level 2 and up ̶ as in the case of New Zealand today where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quick to take action, increasing the alert level to 3 which in 48 hours will be raised to 4.
Yes, these are unprecedented times and yes, it is worrying but on the upside we are all united not only in one common goal to eradicate Covid-19 and get out on the other side as safe and sane as possible (casualties along the way give a face to this tragedy). But we are also quite unexpectedly and uncommonly united in one common lifestyle; that of indoor activities and hopeful homely pleasure. A situation that is precarious on the outside can be looked upon as a positive opportunity to make the most of it on the inside. Hardly ever before have people been able to share domestic experiences across the board and lead a more humble and frugal life away from the line of fire as far as possible.
How do we stay sane and healthy in these dire times? Is domestic bliss achievable? While families with children now home from school will have to be extra resourceful and inventive, that goes for all of us: we have to find a new sense of purpose less readily gained through instant joy derived from gyms, entertainment centres and cultural amenities. We are forced to engage in creative activities, kick-starting and mobilising our brains and thought processes all by ourselves. As a result we become more inventive, more imaginative and perhaps even brainier. Personally, I find immense joy in reading, delving into Latin American research, and being able to remotely guide students from near and afar; fully drawing advantage from advancements within media and communication. I am also in regular touch with my parents and family and am finding myself finally able to pay extra attention to a partner who has at times been neglected in the rush of things and the general hectic running around while I was looking for external pleasure and entertainment (not always in an altogether focused manner).
All scaled down to the “bare minimum” we can finally see the forest for all the trees, realise the value of human connection without the extra hype, and appreciate the beauty of listening to our peers, families, partners and children. In so doing we can also draw full advantage of the World Wide Web, keep up to date with daily news coverage where we are well informed of this global new situation, and use communicative platforms like WeChat, Zoom, Skype and a number of other social media outlets.
In all this my heart goes out to refugees across the globe leading a precarious existence far away from their places of origin and who find themselves stripped of opportunities to resettle, have turned into outcasts, and ̶ some relegated to camps in no man’s land ̶ are unable to find proper safety while still on the move searching for a utopia on the horizon that now appears increasingly distant as these involuntary nomads are sadly shunned even more.
Those of us who are still fortunate enough to enjoy a home in the first place, in the both metaphorical and physical sense of the word, should count ourselves lucky and make the most of it while we can. What this virus has taught us is the value of unity and empathy for each other wherever we are and come from while at the same time we appreciate the opportunity we now have to really take the time to listen to those close to us in a more focused manner, giving them our undivided attention. That is the value of a global slowing down on a domestic level as a contrast to what used to be an unnecessarily speedy and erratic external space.