by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Can a pandemic be a blessing in disguise?
Make no mistake. For the millions of people who suffered all over the world and for the tens of thousands who died from it, COVID-19 has meant unequivocal suffering and death. For the millions who lost jobs, and all means of livelihood, Covid-19 has been nothing short of a full-blown disaster. Economic recession has reared its ugly head around the world, and no one knows the psychological cost of the pandemic.
Yet, many experts have pointed out the silver linings in the dark cloud that has enveloped the world these days. Let us take a look at them.
1. Improvement in environmental quality
It looks like the COVID-19 gave a much-needed break for nature. The near world-wide lock down led to a considerable lessening of travel, which meant that air pollution dropped considerably. For example, in China, there was a 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and 50 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxides emissions. All around the world, people report better air quality and clearer water. Sea turtles that shunned crowded beaches have begun to visit them now that they are devoid of all activity. All this was a direct effect of the lessening of human activities around the world.
2. Awareness of the need for hygiene
There are many rallying cries during this COVID times, such as ‘wash your hands’, ‘observe social distancing’, and ‘wear your masks’. The need for hygienic practices has been driven home now into the public psyche like never before. No doubt that this awareness will stand humanity in good stead in dealing with not just COVID-19, but also other epidemics and pandemics.
3. Realization of the benefits of technology
Never before in the history of the human race has technology been the saviour to this extent. School and college students are using Zoom, Google Meet, Edmodo and Microsoft Teams to continue their education seamlessly. Families keep in touch with each other through video calls. The internet has become the only solution to the lock down in many places, as people order food and medicine online. Even in the fight against the Corona virus, several apps have taken centre stage in contact-tracing and detecting the pandemic.
4. The new normal for the world of work
All around the world, businesses and institutions have begun to accept that it is normal, perhaps even better and more economical, for employees to work from home. This is especially of advantage to parents, as they can manage both home and office at the same time. The COVID-19 lock down definitely has brought more flexibility to our work culture.
5. Increase in family bonding time
Perhaps the most important advantage experienced by many families around the world is the dramatic increase in the family quality bonding time due to COVID-19. Many parents believe that COVID-19 lock down has brought families together, since the distractions of school, office, social get – togethers and functions were not there. Parents began to engage in meaningful activities during the lock down time with their children. COVID-19 has definitely helped us realize what our true priorities are.
6. Drive towards self-sufficiency in food supplies
Since the food supplies of various communities around the world was disrupted due to COVID-19, many countries have started to work towards greater self-sufficiency in food production. In the simplest of its forms, food self-sufficiency begins with each family producing at least a part of its own food, by growing a vegetable garden. COVID-19 has given a strong push in this direction.
7. Community mindedness
It is true that a common enemy can bring people together. COVID-19 is the common enemy right now, and it has given rise to a sense of community all around the world. There are healthy youngsters helping vulnerable people to pick up groceries and collect their medication. We also hear about elderly ladies and school children making masks, and big companies producing Personal Protection Equipment for health workers.
8. The spiritual benefits of COVID-19
By far, the most important positive effect of COVID-19 may have been spiritual. Human beings till now have been on a roll, thinking themselves as unbeatable and invincible, forgetting about their spiritual connection with all the living and non-living beings in the universe. Then comes a puny micro – organism, the Corona virus, that cannot even be seen with one’s naked eyes. It brought the wealthiest and the strongest countries of the world to their knees, and overwhelmed the best medical care systems of the world. If nothing else, the Corona virus has reminded us of our true place in the universe and has taught us some humility.