The Corona Crisis: Why Does It Take An Adversity To Bring Out The Best In Us?

Our community’s leading medical luminary, Dr. Keki Edulji Turel commands 47 years of expertise in neurosurgery and is a Consultant Neurosurgeon, Prof. Emeritus, Dept of Neurosurgery at the Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences. Known for his compassionate outlook towards his patients, Dr. Keki Turel is the Managing Trustee at Mumbai Institute of Neurosciences and the Chairman, WFNS Committee on `Complications in Neurosurgery’. He has held leading positions in several prestigious medical associations including the Neurological Society of India, Academia Eurasiana Neurochirurgica, Epilepsy Association of India, Indian Medical Association, Associations of Surgeons of India, etc. In this article for Parsi Times, he ponders on the human tendency of waiting for the worst times to bring out our best!

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With the world in an increasingly tight grip of COVID, there is the recognition of human vulnerability like never before. The image of once invisible Yama is not even hazy anymore. He is clear and spares no one —power, wealth, technology, nuclear arsenals, and what have you… the prowess of man’s advancement stand simply humbled before a tiny virus, determined to teach humankind an important lesson on respecting Nature. This Lockdown, then, is a time to cerebrate, not celebrate…

  1. Realize that one’s innate ingenuity helps one discover and reinvent oneself. So it’s time to develop/ enhance your computer skills, hone your talents, learn something new like cooking, playing a musical instrument, taking pictures of birds from the terrace of one’s building, and sorting the thousands of memories (pictures) one didn’t get time for. 
  2. It’s time to introspect, practice Yoga, meditation, increase one’s mindfulness and consciousness and enjoy the simple gifts of Nature, all for free! 
  3. Learn to do without house-help and get to do dusting, sweeping and swabbing, washing and ironing, cooking and gardening, and coming to realise and appreciate their skills, efficiency and overall utility.
  4. Enjoy listening to genres of music and TV programs, reading books and online news, even the small print. No terror attacks, crimes or bad antisocial news reported (except growing statistics of the mounting pandemic; conversely, reading the good news of its relatively slow climb, fewer deaths and most of the infected going home). 
  5. Playing with pets, children and more so, grandchildren; teaching them and learning from them. 
  6. Couples get time to indulge (one looooooong honeymoon for the newly-weds!). 
  7. Family disputes get a chance to settle. 
  8. Respite (albeit temporary) from the wrath of landlords and money-lenders (including banks). 
  9. Time to arrange your cupboards, pantry, and storage areas, and take stock of things you hoarded and never utilized or saw for years! What seemed an important acquisition or purchase at one time looks utterly unimportant at another. Self-revelation of how things bought during a ‘Sale’ have fooled your intelligence.
  10. Chance to catch up, though only over the phone, with friends and relatives, especially those you haven’t connected with in a long, long time.
  11.  Learn the art of frugality and living on savings, like the pensioners do.
  12. With looming economic recession, funding of terrorist organisations will dwindle, automatically weakening the wily fanatics in their evil activities.
  13.  But if you have enough money set aside, this is the time to invest. In a few months, the prices will sky-rocket (do you need an economist to predict that?)
  14.  Realize that life can go on without visiting malls and theaters; restaurants and resorts; birthday, anniversary, marriage and kitty parties; discos and conferences. 
  15. Not travelling means saving on petrol, thus lowering its prices and importance which had made a select few abnormally rich and arrogant (and allowing other forms of cheaper and safer energy to flourish).
  16.  Also less deaths from road accidents as very few people are taking to roads (4,800 deaths due to road accidents were being reported everyday in India; deaths due to Corona Virus? 28 over 2 months – an incredible Ten thousand fold drop in death rates!)
  17. You can still work from home and earn, without going to office.
  18. Use this opportunity to continue our learning objectives by Webinars on Google hangouts, Zoom etc. ‘Open and distance learning’ courses in a field of one’s liking have also begun. Children too are continuing their education by online classes.
  19. Eating home-cooked food and not eating out means not splurging money on junk food, nor suffering from food poisoning or hepatitis. 
  20.  The value of personal hygiene and health was never felt so important as now. Remember, the less privileged, despite poor financial reserves, have better resilience, survival instincts as well as immunity, and will do better than the high-heeled society snoots. 
  21.  Realize that while businesses may seem to suffer, stock markets fall, gap between income and expense diminishes, you will have to look after your body, listen to your conscience and finally understand that health is indeed the greatest wealth!  Isolation and Social distancing is the need of the hour to help contain the Coronavirus and indeed most infectious diseases. Discipline is of utmost necessity, which unfortunately is not the strongest of virtues amongst Indians. The value of a life of Dharma, self-discipline and restraint seems our only hope. Social distancing is deliberate Tyaga and Tapasya – our Mantra today. Shuchikaranam or Sanitization is the buzzword!

Not overlooking the huge contributions of numerous scientists, physicians, artists and men of commerce and religion that have made our lives healthier, safer and more productive and pleasurable, we must also finally thank Thomas Edison and Alexander Bell for inventing electricity and telephone respectively over 150 years ago, the fountain of our modern advances, and without which we would have never enjoyed the numerous so-called luxuries which are indeed the inseparable necessities of our daily lives.

And one last thought, like all other great calamities, disasters, wars and economic Depressions, this pandemic too will pass, and we will survive. Meanwhile, during this period of lengthy, indefinite and uncertain crisis, let’s take the opportunity to help the poorest, jobless and homeless, daily wage earners and the sick, who during prolonged isolation may die of hunger even before the virus gets hold of them – a chance for those who only espoused benefits but lacked in charity, to get some divine redemption. Go, please your God – take advantage of the disadvantage!

Conversely, The Disadvantage of the Advantage:

  • Can’t go to the gym, nor for a run or play outdoor sport.
  • Too much drinking, eating, sleeping, watching adult content (Beware – health co-morbidities will tend to be on the rise!)
  • Closing down of the ‘bar’: Lawyers and Tipplers will now stay at home.
  • Greater addiction to the smart phone and TV.
  • Discovering or rediscovering faults in your partner or squabble with family members.
  • Politicians and religious leaders will miss addressing mass rallies and fans. For a change, no Priest, Poojari or Mullah may be needed or called to save you.
  • Industry leaders are already complaining of colossal economic losses. This ‘novel’ situation will need novel remedies.
  • Job redundancy and pay cuts will increase the woes of the salaried middle class. Desperation may induce criminalization. Indeed, ‘An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.’
  • Senior citizens will be further impoverished as companies will not issue dividends.
  • Even Gods will lose their earnings as the doors of mega temples close.
  • The selfless health workers who are on the frontline, despite all gears and precautions, and who while trying to save lives, are the most vulnerable and greatest at risk. Salutations!! Will they, like others who protect our society and country, ever be adequately compensated? 

Overall, there’s never been a better time to introspect, retrospect and reminisce than now.  Let’s seize this opportunity to submerge our personal, ideological and political differences, ego and greed to make us all in this world more responsible, healthy, united, and peaceful.

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