As we start February 2022, most of us cannot help think back to March 2020, when we first met our first totally global reach pandemic face-to-face, or mask to mask! We all remember the gloom and doom, the fear and uncertainty, the sadness, the loss, and the grieving of a lifestyle — and millions of lives-lost. Within that larger sadness, some of us were even quite hopeful, thinking life would be “normal” again after a few months of lockdown.
How wrong we were! We are onto our third round of Coronavirus, something called Omicron. We went back to lockdowns, social blackout, and reduced travel. My husband went to Pakistan, against our family’s wishes but thankfully returned safe and unharmed. The rapid climb and rapid descent of Omicron cases was a refreshing change. He shared how people in Pakistan were very casual about the mask thing and did not refrain from gathering socially, although we were predicting the surge to hit them just as it hit us in December. People are still sensitive about mask wearing here in the US, and in the developing world it is a non-issue.
Covid’s impact has been in phases. The first phase taught us that we can survive with less material things and less socialization. We may think it will have a long-term negative impact on us and especially the younger generation. But it is too early to tell. We are resilient beings, and younger generations even more so. Perhaps we should be grateful that the planet suffered less extraction and plundering!
The second phase showed us how divided societies cannot meet the challenge of a global pandemic well, no matter how developed they are materially. The emotional fault-lines are too deep to allow for a rational and compassionate response. A new phenomenon- pandemic politics- emerged on the scene and became a new target for haters everywhere. While I work in the peacebuilding arena, I also think that all of us can learn to dial it down emotionally and stay calm and be less judgmental as individuals. Maybe that will calm the ocean of hate down.
The third phase seems to be setting in now, as we see the economic impact on larger systems, e.g. the global supply chain. The global financial system is in for a big reset, and we have to buckle up to ride it out. My son was telling me how it costs an extra $10,000 to buy a new car due to huge demand, and lack of supply. Trying to get small home improvements done is difficult these days. I wonder what other impacts are coming down the road? No matter what, we have to be prepared to be resilient, patient and grateful.
And that for me is the key impact- if we as humans can become more humanistic, more compassionate, more patient, more grateful, and get by with less materialism, we can make the Covid Impact a great big gift from our Creator, the Universe, Mother Earth, or whatever higher power you believe in. As the famous Pakistani Sufi singer Abida Parveen says in Coke Studio 14’s version of “Jhoom” (https://youtu.be/7D4vNcK6D38): “Why do I worry about everyone, I try to explain to my heart”. We can learn a lot from ancient mystics who advise us to twirl and trance (jhoom in Urdu) as the Universe unfolds as it will!