When the world stood still

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

Two months, March to April, April to May. What happened?

Everything, I guess. From one virus, the Wuhan virus turned novel coronavirus and now COVID-19. One virus disrupted mankind. It did not disrupt Earth, just the humans who thought they oversaw life.

Yet, the virus did not introduce anything new. Its only tool was death, then the fear of imminent death. It started killing people and the world stood still in fear.

Today, then, marks the moment when much of the world is thinking of living outside of fear. There is talk of the new normal that ironically defies description.

In other words, the reason why confidence does not yet overtake fear is because the reality of the new normal is unclear. Yes, there is no new normal because we will only start to establish what it will be. Until the next global disruption, that is.

The impact of COVID-19 on peoples and nations has been global in the true sense. There have been world wars as they were called but somehow many were not directly affected by it.

There were also great plagues that killed more humans, but many countries did not experience or were even aware of them at all.

We can then call COVID-19 the greatest global teacher in human memory and history. The teacher is still in the classroom and so the lessons continue to be taught.

There are some who are rushing to get out of the classroom, but they will not be able to do so just yet. The recovery of some is an awesome and happy development. Yet, that recovery will still bring varying degrees of isolation because many others remain infected and contagious.

The global figures continue to add up although at a much slower rate. More than 3,500,000 infected and more than 250,000 dead. It does not seem to be anywhere as bad as the fear it generated worldwide – yet these numbers are physical and do not account for their real impact.

Think of it this way, in terms of social media, how one post that is liked and spread by many can affect hundreds of millions or billions. Because beyond the physical are the interrelated dimensions of man that influence or dictate human behavior. Covid-19 is not only a virus, it is extremely viral.

Change does not come easy. There are too many people alive today, close to 8 billion. Because people are a heavy physical force, they just cannot move together in cohesion. COVID-19 brings different lessons to different people and they will move in a united direction only on the common lessons learned.

The teacher and the classroom, though, being global in nature, has the whole of humanity as the students, some too young, some too old, and in various levels of intelligence or readiness. That is why only very few common lessons will trigger common action towards common change.

What is familiar, what is traditional, will be resorted to again as much as people, especially societal leaders, can manage. That is the default of those in power, whatever field they may belong to, that they will hold on to what gives them the dominance. Change is frightening to those in power, and COVID-19 in some ways appears to be helping authoritarian governments become more dictatorial. Because fear is the main driver today.

Still, the impact of COVID-19 cannot be underestimated. Resistance to change, to whatever the new normal will be, is simply not enough to mitigate the consequences of the global pandemic and the paralysis of the human race. In this instant present, we will see the big players of the country move towards normalization, especially big business. Yet, this is what Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has to say:

“For people in business, 2020 is really just a year for staying alive. Do not even talk about your dreams and plans. Just make sure you stay alive. If you can stay alive, then you would have made a profit already.”

The backdrop that gives any credence to Jack Ma’s advice is serious economic contraction and the bankruptcies that will litter the commercial landscape. Only in that scenario can staying alive already be considered an accomplishment equivalent to being profitable.

If economies globally are now disrupted, shaken, and unsure of how exactly to proceed, then the foundations of all our economies are suddenly exposed to be infirm.

If there will be economic contraction, recession, and maybe even depression after several more months, and all because of a virus, then something is very wrong with the strength and structure of our economies. That means the basics have been exchanged for the peripherals, the essence for non-essentials.

Could it have been that mankind had created a bubble which we had given such awesome value that suddenly burst because of COVID-19?

The elements needed for existence and even progress is all in place, the lands and the seas, the mountains, and the fields, and most of all – us human beings. Why, then, do we feel as though the ground is sifting beneath our feet? Obviously, we now need to identify the bubble and what that contained, then never trust them again to be valued that highly. 

Meanwhile, food is primary and will forever be. It is time to think of food banks and establish them strategically near the more vulnerable communities.

It is also advisable to elevate the Plant, Plant, Plant initiative of the Department of Agriculture to flagship level. On the surface, it is about food.

But if it sustained long enough, it could become habit-forming and productivity may become a mindset and culture. What a blessing that would be for the future of our country.

The worst may not be over in terms of the infection, and not yet in terms of the economy. Yet, we will be forced to soon live a life side by side with COVID-19. The world had stood still but soon, very soon, not anymore.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.