In our present isolated state, everything appears shallow as our years of busy living and social-media-driven simulations are detoxing fast. It is as if from Plato's cave to our society's unpresented halt, we are either experiencing a primordial déjà vu or a fresh start. Our previous world, which existed last month, did not warn us about an approaching new world full of isolated individuals in their own cells while nature is rebooting itself.
This plague has slow-motioned heavy words like "progress," "protest" and our "pulsation" for consumption. It has finally minimised us in the name of isolation and made us feel powerless against a foe that has no intention of slowing down. With all our technological superiority we are struggling. Now we have endless pastimes with so much time to think and comprehend humanity again.
Positive changes like the healing ozone layers, cleaner waters, rapid increase of fresh air have made us realise that the major problem of our planet is our endless revolutionisation of unhealthy ideas. Our devotion towards self-loving, plus cut-throat societal, ideological and economic practices have perhaps confined us to the darker corners of our houses.
We need to recalibrate our needs and forge new ideas through this unexpected halt. Our lives should be cleaner and simpler, plus our thoughts sharper. Rumi once celebrated a darkness that heals, "What hurts you blesses you. Darkness is your cradle." Let us hope that this terrible time creates some better changes to our ideals.
Historically, from the past centuries, human efforts were mostly focused on making money, belongings and technologies that made us post-human. We are both battling and surviving a plague that is perhaps the most "viral" ever. This is not that sort of we have wanted or deserved. The slo-mo public life has taken a toll on our higher mental process. The results are extreme boredom, less work stress, cleaner streets, less crime, clean skies and we can also hear crickets at night as we are supposed to. We have never been accustomed to terms like: "lockdown," "quarantine," "social distancing," and "isolation." This plague is slowly taking over the known landscapes of our psyche.
In Bangladesh we are struggling to place our conscience of anxiety in the precarious position between "actual" and "factual" numbers of dead and infected people. Some of us still strangely believe that we are stronger than this virus, as we have divine protection interpolated in us, always. Yes, we are indeed tough but collectively and by maintaining cautionary regulations. In most cases we positively rely on both communal efforts and also seek a way out from the Almighty that are both our religious and cultural tradition. It seems good to hold on to ourselves firmly.
Some individual efforts have headlined in action, as people are trying their best to help the poor in this dire time. This is what is best about humanity. First we get cornered, then we take care of each other. Alluring made-up cures, dream visions, invented events, strangely awkward interviews, and fake news are also trying their best to survive among public fatigue. As life is elementarily humane, it is also inaccurately strange!
What can we do in this "terrible" situation? In answer, we could wait for this virus to die until we find or make a cure. It is perhaps the "normal" thing to do. The societies are coping with rationality by putting people inside. We also need to be exemplary and survive as we always did in hard times, so that our stories can be heard and sung. Our future generations need these cautionary tales. They also need to know that the real sense of security is not in our invented clouds but among ourselves – in the community.
Creativity is an innate ability among us. Our social media has been flooded with: awareness posts, the same old cooking photos, not so many makeup tutorials, almost no restaurant checkouts, and primarily with complaints about the boredom of staying at home. Amidst all activities, people are: working from home, teachers are holding online classes, people are sharing videos on social media, reading books, listening to music, watching films, and – most importantly – spending time with their loved ones. Some people, on the contrary, cannot attain this luxury of home isolation as these unsafe streets and open cities are their bedrooms. These people need to be taken care of both by the government and by individual resources. We need to remember that this crisis is about solidarity, not stocking up on a whole year's supplies.
Nobody wants to be on the same page with the dead, everyone has their own perspective about this virus. It is not necessarily how things have been turning out recently but the idea that ignorance leads to both darkness and fears. In Bangladesh, ignorance has different perspectives. It has phases and shapes that can be seen in: social media, news reports, newspaper articles and most importantly in public discourse. The outbreak of this virus until now has a singular narrative that asserts the vitality of its seriousness. We need to stick on to this message in order to maintain social distancing in a watertight state. Italy is finally getting positive results by isolating people but their delays cost thousands of lives. What people and a group of people lay their faith on could be better or worse because, as time goes by, singular belief could be converted into plurality, causing mass panic. Our government should work on this issue along with fighting present situations.
Surviving this virus is not tough. We all need to be on the same page. Our monotonous life could be the light bearer of the new world ahead as our minds need to be cleared out of everyday uncertainty and enormous amounts of work stress. There is a clearer road ahead and all need to be there to see it.
The author is senior lecturer at Central Women's University, Bangladesh.