No matter our social backgrounds, race, geographical location, or religion — COVID-19 singles out none. Our differences cease to identify us. We become one. Or, more succinctly, we rediscover our oneness. Because, at the heart of the matter, we are all on this journey of life at this point in time for a reason. So, let’s make the most of it.
“Sharing is caring” is something that I’ve heard a million times throughout PreK and Kindergarten. As an only child, it was at school that I *actually* had to share anything. It was an eye-opener for me. I mean, “finders keepers, losers weepers,” right? It was at that tender age of 4 that I had an epiphany, a sad one at that. The world did not revolve around me. Insert sad face here. I was devastated. But, I realized that if I was to actually relate to people, I needed to put others’ needs first. And guess what? I started to love helping others to the point where I completely disregarded my own needs and fell into heaps of depression (but that’s a story for another day).
In any sense, what I am trying to unpack with this personal anecdote is the importance and splendor of altruism. When we come to look at the state of the world, we are often faced with cut-throat competition, spurred by relentless ploys to further our own needs and desires at the expense of others. Yes, I understand. Business is business. But at what point do we draw the line?
It is in extenuating circumstances (like these) that we realize the true beauty behind acts of kindness, stemming from selflessness. We begin to have those epiphanies like we once had in elementary school, ones that show us that there’s more to life than ourselves. We start to really see other people.
It is tragic that humanity had to learn this lesson the hard way, at the cost of people’s lives. What exactly does this say about human nature? Are we all sadistic human beings?
I would argue on the contrary. As humans stemming from hunter-gatherer communities, we have been historically conditioned to care for the well-being of others. Survival depended on staying together and working with each other instead of against each other. However, with the rise of human civilization, as we know of it today, we have come to establish social systems that have created harmful power hierarchies, at the great expense of the less fortunate. Now, that is not to say humans are inherently selfish. Our societal norms have evolved in such a way that has promoted selfishness and disdained selflessness. Yet, now is the time to abolish these archaic systems that have only resulted in suffering and oppression for millions. Now is the time to put others’ needs first and have a good look at the people around us.
A similar theme that I have noticed to be of great necessity in this pandemic is the power of connection. This has various connotations and meanings but in this particular instance when I speak of connection, I am referring to human-to-human connections.
As we went throughout our busy day-to-day lives pre-pandemic, many of us took the people around us for granted. Yep, I’m talking classmates, acquaintances, study buddies, you name it. Sure, we may have appreciated them, but have we truly acknowledged the impact that they have on us? Did we ever consider what would happen if they were not around?
Well, the pandemic forced us to consider these questions. And boy oh boy were we in for a rude awakening. Suddenly, we found ourselves longing for times when everything was “normal.” Those people we hardly ever talked to, let alone even looked at — now, a gaping hole in our lives. So why is it that we have to lose something for us to truly know the worth of something? Well, psychologically speaking loss is a better motivator than reward, thus our brains are hardwired to value more the things that are scarce.
During this pandemic, when we are forced to change our social lives, we discover how much we need people around us. We are social creatures, but, at times, we tend to stay in our personal bubbles a tad too long. This pandemic has given us the chance to be grateful for the connections that we do have and carefully understand the meaning that they hold within our hearts. We start to appreciate who and what we have.
With the coronavirus, we have all encountered loss in one way or another. From the physical loss of family members and friends to the loss of steady income to the loss of our daily routine as we have come to know it — we have all experienced drastic changes. Now, it is what these circumstances teach us that is of greatest importance.
We start to be grateful for the health and safety of our loved ones and ourselves, the roof over our heads, the food that we take for granted, and the stability of day-to-day life. Reiterating the point I made earlier, it is through loss that we come to appreciate things. We start to count our blessings and realize the privilege that we have.
It is through adverse conditions that we rediscover the beauty in the little things. As our self-awareness becomes sharper, we start living in gratitude for all that we have. Annoying family members become the world to us; carefree dining at restaurants regains a cherished space within our hearts; and the splendor of nature revitalizes our very soul, pumping us with the newfound energy to take on obstacles head-on.
At the end of the day, we are all trying to do our best with the circumstances of our time. With all the pain and suffering occurring in the world, we start to realize the magnitude of selfless actions, the meaning of our connections, and the significance of the little things. Glimmers of hope abound when we reflect on all the possibilities that this strenuous period has bestowed us with.