C is for Corona, Q for Quarantine: The social lessons we needed to learn

We are all under the Coronavirus quarantine. I want to give you some of the positive and not so positive lessons we can learn from this.

In the times of health crisis, in which we are today, all news and posts are about the troublesome development of the situation. It is extremely important to stay informed. However, our news can sometimes be a source of panic and discouragement, instead of information.

There are many negative things we can cover regarding the pandemic. Of course, I take it quite seriously. Still, there is an invisible boarder that should not be crossed. You should stay informed, cautious but not panicked.

So, today I wanted to discuss some of the lessons this situation has taught. Some of them are tough to hear. Some come as a soothing example of how in every crisis there is light.

Here are the 10 social lessons we learned from the corona virus outbreak and the quarantine:

Panic does not solve problems

Here we are post-toilet paper hoarding (Or so I hope) – learning our most essential lessons about critical situations.

Lesson number one – we are completely unprepared to handle emergencies such as this one.

Lesson number two – panicking does not solve problems. You are at home with all your packages of toilet paper, yet the world is still out there, messier than ever and you are still a part of it. The more scared we are, the less rational. We all know, erratic behavior never helped anybody. I don’t think there even is a need to discuss this topic further.

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We are all in the same pit

As I mentioned in my previous post, people often have the mentality of “us” vs. “them”. This is evident in our politics, nationalism, etc. This is not always a bad thing.

However, in the current situation, we are forced to face a simple fact – it is OUR problem. It goes beyond borders, nations and ethnicity. Moreover, the best and only solution for problems like this is for all of us to work together.

Putting our priorities straight

The virus hit society almost like a magic wand. In one second we had our lives figured out. For me that meant moving out, travelling, meeting my family and finding a new home. Just a second later my whole plan for the upcoming months or even years was shattered.

Flights were cancelled, borders were closed. People were losing their jobs. There was a real possibility, I would not be able to go home for months to come. Who knows when the situation is going to get better?! No idea where I was going to stay and when would I be able to see my family. It was one thing to choose to be abroad and completely different to be forced to.

All of a sudden you realize that all of the things you were so worried about yesterday and filled your mind are just meaningless. Does it matter now if I am going to pack my favorite sweater or not? Or if I have enough space for all my makeup? No, none of this mattered anymore.

I wanted to know if all my relatives were fine and had enough food. I wanted to make sure I say all my goodbyes if I need to travel fast. To make sure I don’t make anyone else sick if I am.

Being in such a critical situation puts your life in perspective. It makes you ask yourself the important questions. Are you at the right place? Is this what you want out of life? What you wish you had done before?

Most of all realize that it is not their office box they are dreaming about, but simply going outside for a simple walk and this says a lot.

How fragile our reality is

To build upon the previous point, in times like this, the easiest thing is for plans to fall apart. You realise completely that the world around us is just an illusion, brittle as glass.

Our ancestors were nomads and there was a pretty good reason behind this. Humanity tends to think that it is on top of our world. However, nature tends to prove us times and times again that we sit upon a throne with no foundation.

So, we all need to let go of our expectations about the future and live now and today. You will skip a flight or two. Maybe a vacation as well. Yet, hopefully, you will keep your job or find one. You will be healthy and safe.

The notion of the simple fact that nothing is sure makes you see life from a different perspective. It makes you realize how fixated you are on certain points in your life. An aspect that in the big scope of things means nothing at all.

Focus on health

For many years now, our societies are run by consumerism – success, happiness and love – all is defined by money and material goods. This is to no one’s surprise. Therefore, all politics and national focus is regarding the budgets, production and distribution of goods.

Yet, for the first time in a while, our focus has shifted on our health. Not only on an individual level. No, for once, health is the first concern for countries and governments all around the world.

Of course, the economic aspect of such a pandemic is something widely discussed. However, it is an issue to be dealt with after the essential things – keeping people around us safe and holding the spread of a disease so we prevent a further loss of lives.

I believe that such a paradigm shift was needed socially for a long time. Regardless of its dark roots, it will serve for many goods in the future. Such a strong health scare will benefit all individuals, who may have lost themselves and their self-care in our fast-paced world.

The biggest effect it will have, however, will be on the medical industry. It will show people and governments how crucial healthcare professionals are and how unappreciated. It helps the increase in investments in the industry, which will lead to better technology, diagnosis and prevention for diseases and conditions we may face in the future.

How much of an impact do we hold?

Another constant misconception in our society is the idea that a single person does not impact the world. Many people refuse to make a change, due to their deep-rooted believe that their single action will never be enough to change a planet full of people. In the case of the coronavirus outbreak, we were shown the opposite many times.

Firstly, in a negative light – by the patient zero in this whole scenario. Think about it, we find ourselves in a pandemic with millions of affected people. Still, all of this began with one single person somewhere in Wuhan, China. It did not take an army to change our realities. Just a single individual.

Similarly, now every single one of us can prevent the loss of lives by simply staying at home. Even one, single individual can harm the implementation of the quarantine. Every one of us has this power and responsibility.

Therefore, we are proven wrong, yet again. A single individual does hold the power to make or break our world and we all need to accept this responsibility in order to move forward.

Understanding how we harm our planet

Talking about change, it is crucial to mention our influence over the planet we live in. Another thing this quarantine has shown us is how harmful humanity is. The results we have witnessed just for a month of quarantine are so beyond our expectations. Without the quarantine, we could never even imagine some of those results.

This makes sense. As our society and industries are so active, it is hard to comprehend their influence. Our generation has never witnessed a world with no pollution, heavy traffic and overpopulation. Therefore, we cannot comprehend the destruction we have caused.

Here are just some of the mind-blowing results we have noted:

Overall, the nitrogen dioxide values have dropped with between 10-30% compared to those of previous years.

For years now, China has been facing horrendous air pollution problem. This issue is rooted in the country’s booming production, traffic and overpopulation. Researchers conclude that this results in 1,1 million premature deaths every year. Moreover, it causes tremendous loss of resources, mainly crops.

The air in China, in particular, has seen a tremendous improvement and the lockdown has helped many people breathe more freely. Some researchers speculate that this short period of cleaner air will save multitude of lives.

The waters in Venice have turned from murky dark to crisp and clear, as no boats are roaming the channels.

Of course, this occurrence is not only due to pollution. The boats simply bring up the particles from the bottom of the channels, which creates their murkiness.

Yet, it shows us how much disturbance we do cause in our world. For the first time in years, the residents in the city can see the fish swimming in their waters.

Moreover, dolphins have been spotted close to the shores – a sight that Italians have not seen in a while.

Photo from Italy
Marco Capovilla / Venezia Pulita
Photo from Italy
Marco Capovilla / Venezia Pulita

The chemicals responsible for the harmful effects and the hole in the Ozone layer has been banned for many years now. Its complete recovery is estimated to be completed in 2060. However, the recent quarantine has shown some positive influence over the issue as well.

Finally, let’s talk about our influence over the other species residing on the planet Earth. China has announced a ban on wildlife trade. This is a bloody and gory activity rooted in Chinese culture.

Exotic species are often used in Chinese traditional medicine and consumed by the wealthier parts of their society. However, the practice has caused the criticism of many other countries and concerned individuals, as well as a presumed life-hazard. The latter of which was just proven right.

We are yet to see how this ban will actually be implemented and regulated. However, the attention this issue has been given recently may help educate individuals, prevent the torture of animals and the spread of further diseases.

Moreover, this ban may result in saving certain species from extinction. An example for this is the pangolin – the very animal thought to be the root of the COVID-19 virus. Don’t be fooled, however, as the transmission of the virus was due to the animal’s mistreatment from humans.

The pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the world. In China their scales are used in traditional medicine and their meat is a delicacy. Therefore, their capture and trade often involve animal cruelty.

Anyhow, its illegal trade has plummeted in light of the coronavirus scare and the ban on wildlife trade.

Of course, it should not be a heart-breaking even like this one bringing our attention to those issues. Nevertheless, our attention to them is needed and crucial.

Feeling humanity in need

From other species, let’s get back to our own – humans. There are many characteristics differentiating us from animals. Some of them include our cruelty and destruction. Yet, people are not just the king of the jungle. We have compassion, care and rationality.

Yes, there is a virus in the wild. And yes, we don’t want to have it or spread it. Yet, we should not forget that the person coughing in the train is a person, not a bacteria. We should not stop being human and empathising with other people around us.

A great example is a trend I saw going on in Denmark and the rest of Europe where groups were created responsible for providing elderly people with food and supplies. And this is exactly what we need to do in time of need – help each other. From a distance and with caution. Still – be there and help.

Coping with stress through art and humor

Arguably the best part of the occurring situation is what we have created out of it. Literally created. Humanity yet again has shown its strong, undying spirit, imagination and creativity. Finally, for a great cause – to inform, entertain and calm others down.

All the articles, challenges and memes are great examples of this. So, go ahead, use your inspiration and make someone out there laugh or forget their troubles for a second. As a consumer of those precious goods, I can assure you that it is very much appreciated!

Desire for improvement

Finally, the last and maybe most essential realisation of our quarantine: Things need to change, and we are made for changes. After all, a big change called evolution is what brought us all here.

Being locked in our homes helped us realise how much we crave to be out in the wild, feel the sun and be one with nature. How our planet needed our love and attention.

Being forced to keep social distance, taught us how much we need human contact and appreciate our relationships with others.

Being sealed to our phones made us recognize that there is a different reality out there. Lastly, getting the so long craved rest and chill reminded us how much more we want to achieve. How much we want to change in our world and do better.

I hope we don’t forget those valuable lessons after our lives return to their normal rhythm. Make sure you don’t!

Farewell,
Yoana

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