Can we go back to normal? Should we?
It's been around a month since my last post, and what a month it has been. With the COVID-19 virus devastating the world, we have seen massive shifts in the way we live. The lockdowns have meant that we have been unable to see our loved ones, restricted in our freedom to discover new places and food supplies have been disrupted (can anybody find flour anywhere?!). More heartbreakingly, we have seen mass loss of life, and what is most tragic is that those families affected are deprived of being able to say goodbye with the kind of funeral they would want for their lost loved ones.
It is undeniable that the impact of COVID-19 on the world has been terrible, in so many ways.
As such, it's understandable that most are praying and looking forward to the day when this is all over, and we can go back to normal. But can we? Should we?
In spite of the horrors that we have seen as a result of the virus, it has also taught us so much, and there are silver linings to the darkest of clouds. The following is a small collection of good-news stories that have emerged as a result of the virus:
People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in 'decades,' as the lockdown eases air pollution
Seabirds and fish: nature moves into spaces left empty by Italian coronavirus quarantine
It is evident from how the virus has forced humankind to hide away, that it is allowing the planet to begin to heal from the damage that we, as a species, have imposed on it. The virus is teaching us that there is another way to live our lives which is less harmful to our fellow inhabitants of Earth, and kinder to each other.
We have seen remarkable displays of human kindness shine through, demonstrating that we all have it within us to be more compassionate beings than we have perhaps been historically.
And yes, we have also seen some of the worst of human behaviour too, with people using the virus as a weapon to incite terror in the elderly or vulnerable, just for kicks. But I'd like to think that if you're reading this, then you're not amongst this thankfully small minority of sick individuals.
It is widely accepted (unless you prescribe to the 5G or Chinese lab conspiracy theories), that the origin of the virus was in the wet markets of Wuhan, China, where wild animals were sold for meat. It is from eating the flesh of one of these animals that the virus was able to move to humans. The same can be said of many of the pandemics that we've seen in modern history, albeit with different animals, and different source countries. What's the common denominator? Eating animals. Is it such a crazy idea to suggest that if we were to stop eating meat, it's at least possible that we could prevent hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths again? Surely sacrificing the few moments of joy that the flavour of bacon gives you is worthwhile if we can prevent this atrocity from impacting the world again? And if it proved to be a wrong move, is the side-effect of better health and less pollution really all that bad? For some, this really is crazy talk.
I can hear some of you saying, "But it's the wild animals that the barbaric Chinese people eat! It's not us! We only eat farmed animals." In response, let me ask you, how is this image from a Belgian slaughterhouse really any different? We tell ourselves all sort of stories to justify our own behaviours, and it takes a brave soul to look at themselves in the mirror and accept that they're wrong. There is no shame in being wrong, but being able to admit it and change one's behaviour accordingly is the mark of a strong character.
Is it possible that a few months of lockdown can help us to begin to appreciate what is truly valuable in life, and put things into perspective?
Or will we just go back to how it was before, never to see the tops of the Himalayas ever again, or until the next pandemic wipes out millions of human lives just because somebody, somewhere, wanted meat for dinner.