This global pandemic has taught us some valuable lessons, whether we like it or not. The challenge is making these lessons the status quo aka normal.
When Covid-19 aka novel coronavirus came onto the radar of people’s consciousness here in Singapore, many thought it was just another virus.
Back in early February 2020, people were hoping it would blow over by end of the month and things would return to normal.
Now we’re at the end of March 2020, and many are saying that if things improve by end of June 2020, it’ll be the best case scenario.
Countries have closed their borders to travellers, people are in quarantine (self or government imposed) at home, and many small businesses have shut.
In Singapore, Stay Home Notices, social distancing, and self-quarantine are now buzzwords. Besides, many entertainment outlets and venues have been mandated to close until end of April 2020, while several gyms and studios have opted of their own accord to close for the same period too.
Of course, there are some complacent individuals who have flouted the rules laid down by the Singapore government.
While not common, one starts to question what was on the mind of these individuals when they chose to blatantly ignore what they’ve been told to do.
These incidents are a test for all of us, to see if will learn the following lessons from this entire unfolding world crisis.
- Age, race, gender, sexual preference, financial status, job position. All these don’t matter.
This virus does not discriminate, at all.
From the young to the elderly, male and female, Asian/European/African, heterosexual and homosexual, rich and poor, celebrities/ CEOs/ managers/ administrators/ security/ teachers etc., it has found its way into these bodies.
When faced with such a situation, you realise that everyone is essentially human.
- Don’t be complacent, & be considerate to others
Before the advent of Covid-19, the common mentality towards disease, accidents and unexpected incidences is, “It won’t happen to me.”
Now, the general consensus is, “It can happen to anyone.” See my point above.
And as the news has reported, a hale and hearty person can be an unknown carrier of the virus. So while the carrier is not ill, they are potentially spreading it to others.
Thus, now is the time to go from being self-centred to being considerate about others around you.
Wear a mask if you feel unwell.
Wash and sanitise your hands after you’ve used the toilet, or touched public surfaces, or dug your nose.
Avoid going to crowded places if you have no reason to.
Respect people’s personal space and stick to social distancing requirements.
Stay at home if you’ve been told to do so.
Forget about vacations outside of Singapore.
Remember, you don’t know if you’re a carrier and whether you could potentially infect others. So be considerate by following what you’ve been told to do, and stay safe yourself.
- A job doesn’t provide guarantees
One of the biggest challenges majority of the population faced was the uncertainty of their job.
Across all industries and positions, there were salary reductions, enforced no-pay leave, and involuntary redundancies.
Everything is a natural progression from the ongoing quarantine and stay home orders. No people in factories or manufacturing plants, people reduce their buying, the economy slows down or even comes to a halt, which results in positions being redundant.
If there’s no need for your job function, then there’s no need for you.
It’s quite expected, we’ve experienced economic downturns before. Yet people seem to have forgotten about them.
Now, people are realising that having a job is not a guarantee that it will be there until you retire.
That going to the office to work is not the only way to get things done. In fact, getting people to a location works for those who aren’t able to manage their time to focus on getting deliverables done on time.
And when you lose the one job you have, you’re unable to get a new one in the next one to three months because many jobs have either disappeared or become obsolete.
So now is the time to realise that you definitely need more than one source of income, and at least one of the sources doesn’t require you to be physically present to get the job done.
- Love your family members
We tend to take our family members for granted—we say hello in the morning before rushing out to the office, then only see them briefly after returning late from work and before sleeping.
But when your parent, sibling, cousin, grandparent, uncle, sister- or brother-in-law, nephew or niece is tested positive for Covid-19, you suddenly realise the importance of family ties. When you have to witness their pain and suffering, you may find yourself empathising with them rather than being annoyed with them.
If you have the good fortune of family members who are still healthy, start being kinder to each other. With the increasing calls for staying at home, you’re going to find yourself spending much more time together. It’s the time to get to know each other better, and create more harmony in your lives.
- Kindness is what makes everything bearable
Amid the uncertainty, it’s natural for panic to rise. This has resulted in hoarding of food by many.
It’s normal human behaviour to think of the Self first — we’ve been indoctrinated through wars, economic slumps, advertising etc. to take care of Self, be better than the next, and stand above the crowd.
Well, this pandemic has shown us, being better than others isn’t going to guarantee that you won’t get Covid-19.
As much as you’re ensuring the survival of your family and yourself, remember that all human lives matter.
When this whole pandemic ends, we will find the earth short of a few thousand lives (perhaps more), industries and businesses made obsolete, and tasks previously done by humans now fulfilled by AI and robots.
At this point, it may be too late to wish it was back to the “good old days”, because we didn’t extend a little kindness to each other.
So buy only what you need, not what you think you need (paper kitchen towels, really??).
- Be grateful
Singaporeans love complaining. And this pandemic has given us much fodder for this.
Cancelled holidays. Unable to work peacefully at home as children are also home. Unable to watch a movie at the theatre. Unable to drink and make merry at entertainment outlets. Unable to shop at the mall.
Humans, not just Singaporeans, have convinced ourselves that these are necessary for happiness and contentment. However, we’re now forced to re-evaluate what’s truly important in our lives, and what truly brings us happiness.
It’s time to pause and be aware of all the things that we do have.
Good people in our lives — family, loved ones, friends.
A means to make money.
A roof over our head and a comfortable mattress to lay on at night.
Internet connection to still be connected with others even when staying home. And of course, to watch Netflix or YouTube.
Clean food and water.
Fresh air, sunshine, sound of birds chirping.
- The concept of personal space.
This is my favourite, because I become edgy when someone stands or walks too close to me in public.
Social distancing has forced us to stand and sit apart from each other.
We no longer have to deal with a person reading your text messages, breathing down your neck, or accidentally bumping into you.
For those who are aware of energy fields, our body is an energy field of it’s own, powered by the electric current within the body.
So when another energy field (i.e. another body) enters your energy field, you will feel affected.
If the other person has low energy, your energy could get pulled into the other person. That’s where the term “energy vampire” comes from, and yes, it’s an actual thing.
Therefore, social distancing is reintroducing the concept of personal space, and with it, you may feel that you have more energy and vitality.
- The concept of time.
Most importantly, the Covid-19 pandemic has given us “time”. More accurately, the concept of time.
Since public entertainment spaces, fitness gyms and studios are closed, the only place we can hang out at is at home.
Suddenly, we realise that we’re no longer busy, because we’ve previously occupied ourselves with distractions such as gossiping and complaining over dinner with friends or partner, watching movies, taking photos and videos of ourselves working out at the gym for Instagram, getting drunk.
Now that we can’t do all these, what can we do at home?
Without the excuse of being busy and having no time, it’s the perfect opportunity to tick off your long-standing to-do list.
Start a home based fitness routine, 30-minutes a day.
Learn to cook or bake.
Learn a musical instrument.
Learn to dance.
Learn to draw.
Pick up coding or social media marketing or sewing.
Write a book.
There’s numerous learning resources available on YouTube and online universities as well. Simply decide on what you would like to begin with first, and go for it.
A New Normal
All the measures and reactions that we are following now are a result of necessary actions to flatten the curve of new Covid-19 infections.
The question to ask will be whether we continue to retain our awareness of these measures and our new way of life, after this whole incident is over.
Will humans require constant reminders? Or will we have woken up from our stupor, sufficiently shaken out of our distractions, to stick with what we’re doing now?
Only time will tell, and I hope it is the latter.