The coronavirus pandemic seems to be holding the entire human race to ransom. Our everyday lives have come to a grinding halt as we stay locked inside our homes staring at an uncertain future. Nearly 270,000 people have died of the virus so far and more than 3.86 million have been infected. And the only way out is a vaccine which, at the moment, is at least a year away.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom. There is a silver lining too: The earth is healing, nature seems to have pushed the reset button, and people have become much kinder. Also, people have discovered their sense of purpose and their inner selves because of the lockdown.
BLUE SKIES ARE BACK
Let’s look at the environment first. The lockdown has erased decades of environmental damage across the world. The air hasn’t been so clean in years with pollution levels dropping dramatically because of the absence of traffic and the closing of heavy industries. Greenhouse gas emissions are down more than 20% in China, the world’s largest emitter, with factories shutting down.
Blue skies and birdsong are back. You can even see stars at night and some parts of India can see the Himalayas after around 30 years. Reports of dolphins in the Venice canals might have been false, but the canal waters are clearer and rivers like the Ganga are much cleaner than the closure of factories that dumped industrial effluents into their waters.
Animals are reclaiming their spaces. Media reports showed images of lions napping on an empty road in South Africa’s Kruger Park, the house sparrow is back in Indian backyards, and thousands of flamingos have descended on Mumbai because of the peace and quiet.
CARING AND SHARING
Humans are becoming kinder. There is, of course, no data to prove this, but you can see it in the way our lives have become slower and more deliberate in the past couple of months. People have renewed old friendships and reconnected with those they haven’t been in touch with for years. Volunteers have set up community kitchens or are donating food to the poor and homeless. The one thing that has helped draw people together is the unity of experiencing this lockdown together.
This has brought out some of the best in humans. In one heartwarming story of kindness, police in Panchkula surprised an elderly resident living alone with a birthday cake. Surprised and teary-eyed, he said to them: “Thank you, you’ve made my day.”
In another example, UK-based freelance copywriter Becky Wass devised a postcard scheme to fight the loneliness that comes along with self-isolating. It allows vulnerable members of society to request that others carry out certain errands for them like picking up their shopping or mail. Wass designed the postcard that aims to help with essential errands whilst also offering up other services such as a chat on the phone.
BALCONY AND DANCE FLOOR
Because people are not completely bogged down by the hustle and bustle of their regular stressful lives, they have the ability to gauge their surroundings with more patience and intent. Basically, people are stepping off the dance floor and getting a different perspective from the balcony. But what does that mean?
The Balcony and Dance Floor framework created by Harvard professor of leadership Ron Heifetz looks at how the human mind tends to focus on the macro or micro details of its surroundings depending on where people are in their lives. While on the Dance Floor, the action of their immediate task, or the micro, becomes the brain’s central focus. However, moving to the Balcony allows them to get a macro picture of not just their own struggles but of that being faced by all humankind at this point.
To know more about this framework, check out Harappa’s course on Leading Self.
We have become more resilient. Being forced to spend more time with ourselves, we’ve had to acknowledge and come face to face with some of our worst nightmares. What if I lose my job? What if I catch the virus? What if someone I love falls sick? What if the lockdown stays for another two months?
So many what-ifs have come and gone this lockdown period. And some of them have even come true for many people. The slump in the economy has caused several people to lose their jobs. The virus has brought loss and grief to many families.
Among all these setbacks, what we can be certain about is our resilience, or the ability to pick ourselves up and keep going until things ease out. This resilience has enabled humans to survive and recover from pandemics, wars, and economic crashes in the past. And it will help us get through these times as well.
And there’s no community in this world right now that knows about resilience more than our health workers and doctors. They are facing the brunt of this outbreak, and have been working tirelessly to save lives for almost three months now.
Check out Harappa’s Embracing Change course to find out how you can build resilience and overcome setbacks in life. This one is free of charge and is guaranteed to equip you with tools and frameworks to cope with not just this pandemic, but any challenges that derail your carefully created plans.
In conclusion, if you look hard enough, there are some blessings in disguise that this time is bringing to us. We just have to look at those silver linings, and be grateful for the lessons we’re getting to learn. After all, nobody said it was easy being a part of history.
Suha Gangopadhyay is a Specialist in the Curriculum team at Harappa Education. A postgraduate from University of Oxford, she wants to contribute to the growth of education studies in India, and dwells in a world where books are almighty.
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