The year 2020 gone by has been one of the most horrible years in our living memory
The year 2020 gone by has been one of the most horrible years in our living memory. It totally changed the existing lifestyle for quite a few people and created economic and social havoc in the nations.
Yet there are important lessons to be learned from this COVID crisis since it is expected that such pandemics will come more often and with greater ferocity and we should try to prepare ourselves for them.
The first lesson is to live sustainably. A large body of data from all over the world has shown that COVID affected those people most who had very unsustainable lifestyle. Thus obesity, stress, and lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. compromised the immunity system thereby causing the body to be attacked by viruses like COVID.
Following Mahatma Gandhi’s example
A classic example of improving body immunity was that of Mahatma Gandhi. He made his body strong by proper diet, fasting, and physical work. He knew that he had to wage a long and hard battle with Britishers which meant that he had to be in British prisons for a long duration. Hence, he developed a strong body with tremendous immunity to overcome these hardships. This is a great lesson for all of us and worth emulating. Instead of fighting the Britishers each one of us is fighting a bigger enemy of COVID.
Thus it is necessary to do daily exercises to tone the body and mind. People were already doing it but mostly so via various exercising machines in the gym.
With COVID, going to the gym became almost impossible. A simpler and easier exercise is walking. Walking is one of the best exercises and done daily helps to develop immunity and increases stamina. It also helps in reducing body fat and obesity. Another simple exercise is yoga and pranayama. Both help tone the body and mind and can easily be done at home.
Another lesson from the COVID crisis is that people suddenly found a lot of time at their disposal. With socializing reduced drastically they did not know what to do with that time. This has led to tremendous mental health issues for a large population. Somehow the modern lifestyle has made one less of a thinker and more of a reactor!
We always react to inputs from social media and the internet rather than thinking, contemplating, and meditating. Reading, writing, and meditation are what people should cultivate more to regain their mental health and peace of mind.
Similarly, some of the biggest sufferers have been working women with kids. They have to take care of both housework and kids. This has resulted in tremendous mental tension and physical fatigue for them. Their careers have also suffered because of this twin burden.
Work from home is here to stay
One of the great benefits of COVID has been a phenomenal increase in electronic communication. Thus webinars, virtual meetings, etc., proliferated with the result that lots of people have even suffered from webinar fatigue! This is a passing phase but increased electronic communication and work from home culture is here to stay. An unintended benefit has been a reduction in time and energy in traveling and may have long-term beneficial effects on the environment. This has been the most tangible effect of the COVID crisis.
Unfortunately working from home has resulted in a weight increase for quite a good number of people. There is a tendency to snack often when working from home. This requires some discipline to curb this impulse.
Nevertheless, face-to-face interaction can never be replaced by electronic media. Till today we do not have the technology to transmit “human vibes” via the internet. But what the COVID crisis has taught us is that our major interaction via the electronic media will continue and that only when absolutely essential we should meet physically.
A slightly frightening outcome of this crisis has been that most of the big companies and corporations are finding that people working from home have reduced the companies’ cost in infrastructure and have also increased the productivity of the employees since they are available to work 24/7.
This is a new form of slavery by remote control. Besides the COVID crisis has allowed lots of corporations to deploy robots and implement increased automation in their plants, thereby making quite a few employees jobless. Both these would further increase the profits of these large corporations and further increase the divide between rich and poor.
Strongmen and dictators
But the most frightening outcome of COVID has been its use by strongmen and dictators of the world. They have used COVID to reduce and sometimes destroy the democratic decision-making process.
Fear is a very potent force used by dictators throughout the history of mankind to ram their diktats down the throat of the population. COVID has provided a perfect opportunity for them to do so.
We must be very vigilant against such forces and I think the biggest lesson for all of us to learn from COVID is how we should guard against the hijacking of our democracy by such dictators.
(The writer is Director, Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Phaltan, Maharashtra. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. https://www.nariphaltan.org/writings.htm)