The times aren’t as they used to be, but hasn’t it always been the same?
As an agitated mind runs through the newsfeed of gory images and people unable to afford or procure oxygen cylinders, hospital beds or even an appointment with the doctors, the one automatic response immediately popping in the head is;
‘These are unprecedented times.’
Our moral values, ethics, integrity, everything is superfluous; the entire humanity is doomed as we all race towards our destruction, expediting it with our repeated acts of ever-increasing selfishness and cowardice by refusing to stand up for others.
The humdrum around us focuses on what we lack and how we are vulnerable and helpless against an invisible enemy; the plot and the story coming out of a Rowling novel where Hogwarts is under siege and only Harry Potter could save it.
The rational mind suddenly looked back; to peer into the history and explore if there was anything worse, we have witnessed before.
We all know we have struggled through tougher times; but how did people respond to those challenging situations and what did they do to come out of it?
Unless a huge meteorite falls on earth or every nuclear-armed country explodes all its bombs, the earth will surely survive all this and so will the humans and other living beings populating it.
The urge to live is so strong and hard-wired in our DNA, no matter what the circumstances, we all strive to survive and even propagate. Even suicidal people try everything, to prolong their life, before taking that extreme step; and most of the time, it’s the mental fatigue and trauma which had piled up and multiplied itself to such an extent that it becomes overwhelming and there is a strong desire to get rid of it.
We have overcome two extremely fatal world wars, the economic depression of the early 20th century, epidemics and pandemics like the plague, Spanish flu, Black death and even HIV/AIDS to an extent. The dangerous lawlessness and continuous wars amongst various tribes and regions continued for a long time and is still on, it was all so tough, people didn’t even have time to feel depressed, the life was at stake and everyone was trying to save theirs and of their kith and kin.
It was only after the war ended that people realized what they had lost and struggled to overcome the enormity of that loss; the losses of course were more emotional than material.
But the hindsight bias may prevent us from looking at that struggle with the same lens as we witness what we are currently facing.
The times are always the most challenging when we face them in the first person; a second or a third person account does not carry the same emotional value as we somehow turn more rational while observing anything. The same may manifest itself right now and maybe the future generations will look at this period from a different and probably fresh perspective.
The mortality was 17.2 per thousand population in 1900 and even at the peak of the pandemic; the world was lucky enough to not even come close to that number as even in the worst-hit countries like the US and Italy, the figure still hovered around 2.
Countries like New Zealand, Denmark, and Norway registered lesser mortality during 2020.
We are seeing the worst of times, but even our worst would have been the best for people living at the turn of the 20th century.
In the book ‘Man’s search for Meaning’, one thing Viktor Frankl taught us while living a hopeless life in the Nazi concentration camp was to have a firm belief for a better future.
Finding a purpose and imagining and foreseeing a better time going forward keeps us not only motivated but also mentally and physically healthy and agile.
Someone living amidst the depression of 1929, only needed to believe how his/her life would change in a few years, which could have probably helped them live a much better life than the ones who lost their belief and a reason and maybe lost everything afterwards.
For us, fortunately, the lessons are there to be learned.
So, keep up the belief and carry on!!