Waqar ul Amin Balghari
Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus is terrorizing the world, putting a halt to the daily affairs of mankind. Erupted in Wuhan, a city of China, it has spread throughout the globe within weeks, disrupting the world economy, thanks to the rapid transportation system of the globalised world. While the mutated strain of coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the globe, it offers man a unique opportunity to ponder where he is standing today as a species in terms of ethics and sophistication.
The events being witnessed following the outbreak present a grim picture of human behavior and decency.
As the microscopic foe succeeded in escaping Chinese border and invading other states, affluents from around the world started stockpiling groceries and other daily necessities, emptying the supermarket shelves and resulting in the shortage of food and other necessary products. Moreover, profiteers, grabbing this opportunity, wasted no time in hoarding supplies. Resultantly, the general public experienced a sharp hike in the prices of hygiene items such as sanitizers. While those having enough money stockpiled necessary products and the hoarders were busy in lining their pockets, the lower strata of population was standing aghast at this doomsday sort of scenario as they could not afford purchasing and stockpiling essential household goods. What happened against the backdrop of this pandemic in the shape of hoarding and stockpiling is a clear manifestation of human insensitiveness and callousness towards other fellow beings.
Similarly, the role which media played in creating mass hysteria at this trying time was equally deplorable. Instead of educating people regarding the threat, the media went into a fear-mongering mode causing panic buying and social chaos. Adding fuel to the fire, social media opportunists leapt into action to disseminate misinformation in order to gain maximum viewership, followers and subscribers. As a result, social media flooded with videos containing home remedies for the virus like gurgling salt water and consuming garlic. Furthermore, information carrying recipes for homemade hygienic products began circulating all over social media outlets. These remedies did more harm than good and further exacerbated an already fraught situation. For instance, hundreds of people, influenced by the rumors, killed in Iran by drinking poisonous alcohol assuming that it would provide a protection against coronavirus. The dissemination of disinformation, spreading of those pieces of information without scrutiny, and adopting it blindly in this age of scientific advancement shows the stark reality of ignorance and indifference of man, living in the modern age.
Another example of ignorance is the penchant of humans for conspiracy theories. Amidst the covid-19 maelstrom, many conspiracy theories regarding the hidden agendas behind the pandemic are being surfaced. Claims suggesting that it is the 5g technology that is actually killing the people, and that the novel coronavirus is a bio-weapon made by united states in order to cripple Chinese economy, and the involvement of secret societies in creating mass panic in order to control the world, just to mention but a few of such theories, are making the rounds, winning widespread endorsement. There might be a smidgen of truth in these theories, however to accept such theories without any evidence is tantamount to debunking scientific researches and expressing lack of trust in states institutions and international organizations. One wonders looking at the idiocy of man in believing such unproven claims, if he is truly living in an era when science has reached its zenith.
The unreasoning recalcitrance that public displayed in observing states’ guidelines to prevent the spread is an another illustration of abominable human behavior. Governments across the world responded the proliferation of coronavirus by announcing the closure of schools universities, and religious places, and by strictly advising its citizens to avoid public gatherings and practice social distancing. Although, people in countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arab complied with the state’s recommendations given the authoritarian style of rule in these countries, people in other parts of the world such as Italy, UK, India and Pakistan turned a deaf ear to the instructions issued by the authorities. Additionally, religious hardliners of all the religions resisted to temporarily shun religious practices involving mass gatherings. Resultantly, a surge in coronavirus cases is being witnessed, forcing the authorities to take strict actions.
Undoubtedly, the world today is wrestling with an invisible enemy that has paralyzed the global economy, besieging countries across the globe. Humanity is facing a crisis with no parallels in the recent history, to quote UN chief, “the most challenging crisis since ww2”, that is causing fear, frustration and anxiety in public. Having said that, such adversities are meant to test man’s character and resilience. Unfortunately, what happened in the aftermath of the outbreak only shows the wickedness and moral decadence in man, though there were some noble people helping others and doing their philanthropic works. Considering the moral depravity being exhibited in the wake of pandemic, the need of the hour is to instill ethics at educational, societal and organisnal level. The time begs for revolutionary steps in order to reform human character for the collective wellbeing and survival of human race.
The contributor has a Masters degree in agriculture and international relations, with an interest in writing.