Rising Up Stronger as A Community Amidst COVID-19

The world became more divided than ever once the pandemic struck.

The disparities expanded, and life is not going to be the same for millions, if not billions, of people.

The pandemic has opened up an abyss between the rich and poor. It has deepened the inequalities between men and women. Women are facing more significant financial and social impact than men, according to studies.

The extreme economic and racial disparity has existed in our world for far too long. This pandemic mirrors which groups are privileged and which are disadvantaged. This pandemic's heaviest price is borne by the people of colour, ethnic minorities, marginalised societies, and women both across and within countries.

Already our world was highly unequal. The pandemic has contributed to a further increase in existing inequality and vulnerability on a mass scale.

There is an entire generation, born and rising up amidst lockdowns, travel bans and the pandemic. The children born during the pandemic are experiencing a new kind of childhood. They will have a different story to tell the future world.

Is there any hope left?

Humankind has witnessed pandemics, epidemics, wars and great calamities throughout history. Like our ancestors, we will also rise, resilient and more robust from these darker times. We should keep our hope alive. Sometimes, it is the most important thing. Having hope gives you the courage to believe that things would get better with time.

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
– Arundhati Roy

Moving forward, as a society, we must contribute to building a compassionate fairer and more inclusive world.

Society is not a separate entity. It is formed by clusters of individuals. A journey of thousand miles starts with a tiny step.

As a community, what can we do to rise up stronger?

1. Meaning of existence

With the unfolding of COVID-19, we are brought face to face with the most vital questions of life. Why are we on this earth for? What have we done with our lives? Why have we spent less time with people who are truly important to us and more time with people who are not that important?

Why didn't we follow our hearts and do things we genuinely cherish instead of keeping up with the status quo. What we genuinely love, and why have we spent so little of our lives pursuing these things? Pandemic has allowed us to revisit our priorities and the purpose of our existence.

2. Being grateful

The coronavirus shows us how short and temporary life in this world can be. Many people around us died. Some of them were healthy and young. Aren't we lucky to be alive? Life is precious, and it is not worthy of being wasted in unending struggles for beauty, wealth, status.

The extraordinary support of our families, friends, our community, and the key workers is enormous. There is an extreme outpouring of support and appreciation we are experiencing even from strangers, and that makes life a lot easier to carry on. The Covid-19 validates the value of freedom. The freedom to move and to be with those we love are privileges we should be grateful for.

3. Digital Capability

Pandemic has accelerated already booming digital revolution. Digital capability is the new currency to thrive in today’s world. At an individual level, one should be equipped to live, learn and work in this digital era. At an organisational level, the culture and infrastructure of an institution should enable and encourage digital practices. Many schools, colleges and universities moved towards virtual learning. Telemedicine has been around for ages, but with national shutdowns, the health sector is set for growth.

The shift towards online shopping is accelerating, and digital transformation is speeding up in almost every industry. Increasing numbers of people are working on a blended modality of work-from-home and work-from-office. Some have gone to the complete virtual working scenario. Digital graduations, digital parties, digital coffee mornings and digital poetry readings... the list is endless. If we are not digitally equipped, we will be lost.

4. Less is more

One of the biggest lessons learnt during the pandemic is we can live with a few clothes in our wardrobes, a reduced amount of food on our tables, and a few essential possessions in

our dwellings.

Less appears to be more because we condition our minds to feel satisfied. Happiness and contentment are within us. Having a minimalist style can make us feel at ease.

We have fewer opportunities to dress up and to compare our goods and chattels with others. People are becoming more mindful of how they spend their money on clothing and other luxuries. What really matters is who we are and not what we have.

5. Thinking laterally

We can always create opportunities from every obstacle. Lateral thinking, a term first coined by Edward de Bono, refers to a person’s capacity to address problems by imagining solutions that cannot be arrived at via deductive or logical means.

When the world is locked down during the pandemic, and people are constrained to four walls, ideas flourished, alternative imaginations emerged, and we found creative methods to do our mundane tasks.

It is also time to think about multiple careers. Instead of focusing on a single career path, at least picking two more would be great.

As the pandemic intensified, many pilots lost their jobs, some did not have any means for living. Having multiple options gives you flexibility, and it unfolds an entirely new paradigm as the future unrolls.

6. Every life is connected to another life.

We inhabit this planet with millions of other species.

Everything is energy, and everything is connected to everything else. The flowing water in the oceans and the floating clouds in the blue sky. Everything comes from the same source

and returns to it. We cannot destroy one element of nature and flourish.

We must learn to respect our fellow humans, animals and all the other elements of nature.

There will be no ‘return to normal’, only a ‘New normal’. The Pandemic is permanently reshaping the way we navigate through life.

We, humans, are packed with incredible potential, enormous assets and infinite creativity.

We must contribute to creating a more equal and sustainable world that benefits all, not just the privileged few.

By Shameela Yoosuf Ali

Editor in Chief - FemAsia Magazine