Lessons from the Corona Virus

The Corona Virus pandemic has been ravaging the world like no other in living memory. The disease, really something as innocuous as a viral flu has disrupted life like never before. Millions of people the world over are locked into their homes, not daring to step out lest they catch the virus and end up in a hospital or even in an early grave. The developed world with showcase medical facilities is the worst hit. Italy, Spain, France and the UK are struggling to get their act together against the marauding virus. Prince Charles and even the British Prime Minister are reported to be nursing mild Corona Virus infections. The US is likely to overtake everyone in this ghastly tragedy. The US President, an unstable and tempestuous man at the best of times, believes that if they end up with deaths in the range of 150000 to 200000 people, he would consider that as success in his efforts at controlling the virus.

The economists are already talking about a global recession. Most businesses are shuttered, the Olympics have been postponed to the next year and no one knows when will all this end. The international and even domestic travel is at a standstill, airlines are expected to go bust in a matter of months, the hospitality industry is in the doldrums and there isn’t a single economic activity anywhere in the world, which is not impacted.

The medical systems, the very best that mankind has been able to put together are teetering at the edge. Hospitals in the most developed parts of the world have run out of ideas. They just do not know how to cope anymore, as thousands of people are dying everyday. The doctors and the nurses and all the gadgetry, which is an inevitable part of hospitals today have no answers to the unending blood-lust of the virus.

Imagine, all this mayhem is caused by just a virus, which isn’t even considered a living organism. Mankind, in-spite of all its knowledge, skills and computing prowess remains so fragile as to be threatened by nothing more than a few cells of DNA or RNA. The virus is a timely reminder of our inherent fragility, it should make humankind a lot more humble and respectful for other forms of life on the planet.

The virus has also exposed all our differences and fault lines as completely false. The virus does not respect nobility, royalty or cares for Prime Ministers or Presidents or their spouses. It does not care for geographic or national boundaries. It needs no passports or visas to cross these. It has scant respect for the religions of the world, or their mighty leaders preaching lofty sermons to their fawning followers. It cares little about people’s stations in life, their affluence can’t save them from its ravages, their knowledge and education is no consideration in the inexorable march of the virus. It attacks all humans and spares all life, which isn’t human. As we cower behind the four walls of our homes, all the life on earth must be laughing at us silly.

The virus has also laid bare our limitations as mankind, as a species that considers itself above all others in the world. It has punctured our pride as the ”masters of the Universe”. While we are capable of destroying the planet and all the life on it many times over, we still do not know how to save ourselves from something as low a life as a virus. While we have traveled to the edge of the known Universe, we have no idea how to deal with what a virus does to our own bodies. As we scramble to save ourselves from the virus, we realize that we have nowhere to go except our own homes.

One day, the virus will surely fade away, some brilliant scientist laboring in a far-off lab will soon enough master it and render mankind immune to its depredations. Or it will just mutate into something friendlier. Mankind will perhaps regain its swagger and disdain for all the other life on the planet. Yet, deep in its heart, it would remember what it was to be a prisoner of a virus for a few months.

Hopefully, it will also serve as a lesson in humility too for we are after-all not as indestructible as we have always thought us to be.

The views expressed are personal

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