We are going through turbulent times that have taken us far from our familiar territory. We are restricted to our homes and a lot of our freedoms have been curtailed. We cannot travel to the next town not to mention going out of our country. We cannot shop in the mall, go to a movie theatre or even have dinner at our favourite restaurant. We cannot even shop online. Our workplaces have largely shutdown and work from home has become the new norm. All of us face serious curtailment of personal freedom with stay at home and social distancing becoming mandatory everywhere.
Maybe our governments could have handled this better. Maybe only the high risk seniors and vulnerable sick people should have been locked down. Probably travel with sufficient safety measures could have been allowed. Shopping and entertainment could somehow have been safely allowed. The list could go on. But the truth is we are stuck at home for God knows how long.
The pandemic has brought pain and suffering to many. There are a large number of persons for whom lockdown means starvation. For some others it is violence and misery. The sick are denied access to treatment and medicines and the addicted are kept desperately away from their fixes. Farm produce and other perishables are stagnating and rotting. The small farmers and businessmen are facing tremendous losses. There is a sizeable population of humans for whom this situation will cause irreparable harm to health, livelihood and security.
The pain of our unfortunate brethren is indeed being addressed at various levels. There are good samaritans putting together help in their neighbourhoods while governments and central banks are providing succour at national levels. There are any number of efforts between these two extremes that are addressing the problem at various scales. Though all these have made considerable impact on the suffering there is still scope for a considerable amount of work at all levels.
If every one of us throughout the world who have income and economic security contribute in our own way, the problem will surely be considerably mitigated if not totally eliminated? For this we first need to identify the suffering and create a process by which these people can be supported. We then need to create an effective link that connects the poor to the affluent. This need not be a huge charitable organisation though that does help. It can be an informal neighbourhood group that ensures that all the suffering persons in their neighbourhood are fully supported. If every neighbourhood throughout the world merely adopted this initiative to help every suffering person in their midst, there would not be suffering anywhere. It does not matter if we are living in a war zone, a migrant camp or being lead by incompetent or oppressive national leaders.
Keep suffering away from my neighbourhood is the slogan to be adopted today. There is sufficient wealth and willingness in every neighbourhood on earth to alleviate every suffering there. There is no exception to this. This is the realisation that the virus has come to teach us. This lesson will open our eyes to a much more equitable future. Are we ready to learn?
Born in the rich culture of South India and educated in English, I have been exposed to two opposing world views enabling me to achieve synergy and realize true harmony. I belong to linguistic community “Saurashtra” who were silk weavers patronised by kings of yore. Our ancestors are said to have migrated from Western part of India to Tamil Nadu in the South several centuries ago. Growing up in the country as India underwent its pangs of Westernisation, I was able to synthesise the self oriented Western perspective with the community oriented native one to arrive at a wholesome concept of self after considerable efforts and experimentation. My forthcoming book “Searching for Self – In Pursuit of Inner Peace” is the culmination of this labour.