‘Covid-19 has certainly been a rejuvenating balm for planet’

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | BySrinivas Reddy
Jun 08, 2020 05:23 AM IST

Corona is a fated opportunity. Fated in the sense that it was inevitable: we abused Mother Earth so much that she was forced to strike back in her own way.

Nobody told us there’d be days like these…strange days indeed!” Once the lockdown is lifted I look forward to going to concerts, embracing my friends, and not wearing a mask. Simple things, normal things. We all just want to get back to life as it was. Human beings weren’t meant to live in a socially distanced world, it’s simply not natural. But the way of living that we want so desperately to return to wasn’t so natural either. If you listen to the rivers, trees and birds today, they’re all saying the same thing: “We’re all much happier now, thank you!” The human pandemic has been good for them. The plants and animals can breathe again, and so can we, and soon enough without a mask.

A peacock seen at Sadarjung lane during the lockdown in New Delhi on April 18, 2020.
A peacock seen at Sadarjung lane during the lockdown in New Delhi on April 18, 2020.

“Get the economy up and running!” “Let’s get back to business as usual!” That’s the vapid message of the world’s great nations. This seems like a tragic waste of a remarkable opportunity. In some ways Corona is a gift; it’s certainly been a rejuvenating balm for the planet. As we emerge from all of this, my biggest fear is that we will forget the good habits that developed during the lockdown: less fossil fuel consumption, more cooking at home, less long-distance travel, more family time, etcetera. It doesn’t seem natural to eat a mango in winter, but that is what plenty of people do thanks to agrotechnology and global trade. It doesn’t feel natural to get into a large metal cylinder and zoom into the stratosphere, but that is what so many of us do every day. And now we’re zooming around the world from the comfort of our homes! What are we doing? Where are we going? Are we rushing back to a dysfunctional way of living that ultimately led us to our present condition?

Corona is a fated opportunity. Fated in the sense that it was inevitable: we abused Mother Earth so much that she was forced to strike back in her own way. Perhaps our species deserves this, perhaps our planet needs it. If we imagine our humanity and the entire planet as a single being, we begin to see that the earth has long suffered from the disease of our relentless, near-sighted avarice.

Author Srinivas Reddy (Courtesy the author)
Author Srinivas Reddy (Courtesy the author)

Indeed, humanity is an invasive, fast-spreading and destructive virus upon the earth. And after taking this abuse for centuries, the earth has been forced to purge herself of deadly toxins.

Corona is a fated opportunity. Opportunity in the sense that we can do things differently now. This is an unprecedented global moment: a time for all of humanity to pause, take a breath and take stock. And if we are to be honest, then the writing is on the wall, and it’s been there for a long time. Scientific studies aren’t needed for any conscientious citizen to plainly see that we’re destroying the planet, abusing precious resources and marginalizing millions of fellow human beings in the process. Change is always slow and difficult, but Corona has given us a chance to take a break and reassess our priorities, and, hopefully, to chart a new course for our collective future as a species on this tiny blue marble.

₹599, Juggernaut
₹599, Juggernaut

I’m excited about living a more wholesome life in tune with nature. I’m so grateful that the lockdown has afforded me time and space to delve into more holistic ways of living. During this time, I learned how to bake yummy home-made baguettes, I started a garden and made a DYI compost for food scraps, and I spent hours observing and identifying local birds. These kind of things seem like supremely important forms of knowledge for anyone to learn. Fortunately, due to the awesome potential of the internet, I have also been able to continue teaching in universities around the world. It’s not ideal of course, but it shows us that we can live fully even while living with less.

When the lockdown is lifted I’d like to have a sitar concert by the river. I want to see beautiful people sprawled out on the green grass in the warm sunshine, laughing, enjoying music and embracing each other. I know I’ll be happy, and I think the birds will be too. In the words of John Lennon whose lyrics started this piece: “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.” In this extraordinary moment for all of humanity, let us choose love. Love for self, love for other, love for the planet.

Srinivas Reddy is a scholar, musician, poet and the author of RAYA: Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara.

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