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  • Ashok Dhillon

COVID-19 - Shutdown to Cabin Fever (#116)


The arrival and infection of the novel virus COVID-19 in human beings resulted in an absolutely unprecedented event - the confinement and self-isolation of most of the human-race around the world, and the cessation of a majority of their normal daily activity. Incredibly, the world came to a virtual standstill in 2020.


Just the enormity of this historically unique event is incredibly difficult to grasp in its entirety, let alone knowing all the ramifications it entails over time. But one thing is certain; this event will change a lot of human behavior going forward, as it will rejig global finance, international trade, political-social models and their inter-relationships, and the national and global medical systems.


In the subsequent efforts that governments, businesses, and people will undertake to adapt to this event, while planning for and anticipating future such global threats, there will be a lot of finger-pointing and blame, as we are seeing even now, but there will also be cooperation and a sense of common purpose.


Additionally and hopefully, the human race will been shaken awake from its general stupor; its arrogance in the conviction of superiority over nature; its economic model of unsustainable gross over-consumption; its destructive path of self-serving, hateful, propaganda-fueled nationalisms; its unjustifiably destructive wars; belligerent competitions; and the pre-COVID-19 complacency towards its inevitable extinction, as apart from natural viruses, there are infinitely more lethal man-made biological weapons along with the planet destroying nuclear weapons.


We know all that is way too much to ask of the human race which fundamentally hasn’t changed in its basic nature, since forever. Its advancements through millennia in knowledge and technologies are not changes in human nature.


Our most destructive human traits and base instincts, and our consistent indulgence of them throughout our entire history, demonstrate on an almost daily basis the fundamentally unchanged human species, and its destructive tendencies, yet we can only hope that such an unparalleled global event as this does trigger a few but significant changes that benefit not only all humans, but also the natural world, for its central role to our collective well being.


Now that the lock-down has been in effect for a few months to a few weeks, depending on where one resides, it has brought in to sharp focus that which we all knew to be generally true but never had really put to any test, that humans are a social animal.

We had known it all along, but had had no need to test and experience it till now as to just how much of a social animal we really are at our very core.


In the relatively short period of time that we have all been locked-away, so to speak, it’s interesting and amusing to see just how little tolerance we have, on average, for living with ourselves, or with those that are closest to us, such as family members, partners, roommates, etc. The world population on the whole, depending on countries and cultures has been increasingly seething with growing discontent, irritability, anxiety, impatience, fear, hate, intolerance and general angst.


Some of this ‘angst’ is of course due to financial and livelihood pressures, but we are not talking about all those who are facing survival challenges as the very poor in all countries, especially the underdeveloped countries. But we are talking about all those who are well looked after, in about every way, with their governments throwing money at them to sustain them, as in the rich developed countries, where actual survival is not an issue (apart from contracting the Corona Virus).


These ‘fortunates’ are the ones most moaning and groaning, and itching and chomping at the bit, to get out and mingle with fellow humans and to get back to their former daily routines. In other words they are suffering from ‘cabin fever’. But also, a lot of such people would be surprised at the unexpected discovery that they really need interaction with other humans, even strangers, to feel whole.

That aspect of their nature had never been tested till now, and would therefore come as a huge surprise to many who thought themselves, here-to-now, as particularly strong individuals, somewhat along the lines of Paul Simon’s iconic song - ‘I am a rock, I am an island … Hiding in my room, safe within my womb I touch no one and no one touches me’. Yet a little ‘bug’ and a little ‘cabin fever’ and suddenly our image of ourselves as the tough individuals needing no one, shatters within days and weeks.


Governments are now scrambling to let us all out (albeit cautiously), to save themselves from us (à la Trump), save ourselves from ourselves (domestic violence and divorce rates have spiked), and to save our social-life-styles which we had become so accustomed to (no idea as to how much), through trying to save our stalled economies and our jobs.


God forbid this lingers and grows, and we are forced back in.

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