Unity For Humanity

In the past few years, the world has come to a standstill and everything that we knew and deemed normal has become strange to us. No more meeting up with friends, no more fun outings, the pandemic has brought disruption to our routine and completely transformed us. We went from classrooms to Zoom, from instant coffee to Dalgonas and saw almost every aspect of our offline life change to an online version. We have had to make difficult choices and decisions — this is true for all aspects of our community. The government, municipal bodies, schools and health sector have had to change their way of working and their efficient transition and adaptability to refute such difficult situations are commendable.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell

When we think of the pandemic, one of the first things that comes to our mind is the selfless contribution of Frontline workers. They are risking their lives for our saving lives and leading the COVID battle fearlessly. A UNO report estimates that more than 1 lakh health care workers have lost their lives because of COVID-19. When everyone safely locked themselves away from the dangers of this deadly virus, these warriors made the difficult choice of leaving their abodes and fighting the abomination. Their undying compassion and spirit is something we must aspire to. Their courage has given hope to many, who had already lost it, seeing the death and despair around.

What motivates these frontline workers to put their lives at risk? To solve a problem, one must understand the problem. To cure a disease, one must have deep knowledge of it and to relieve suffering, one must truly empathize with pain. There is no denying that the pandemic has made our world smaller; it has disconnected us from our surroundings. But we must not let these boundaries restrict our thinking. We must feel for those who suffer, and for those who fight.

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

In the wake of suffering, many have stepped forward to help the community. The notorious second wave wreaked complete havoc over our country. India was hobbled with inadequate health care facilities that could not cope with the number of patients. Hospitals ran out of oxygen cylinders, which is a basic requirement for COVID patients. In such a scenario, a group of Delhi based entrepreneurs started an organisation called Mission Oxygen, to provide cylinders wherever there was an urgent need. They supplied over 2500 oxygen concentrators across India, with famous personalities like Sachin Tendulkar, Shikhar Dhawan, Varun Dhawan, and Taapsee Pannu donating and supporting their cause.

Following their example, many similar initiatives cropped up in different parts of the country. Hemkunt Foundation, founded by Irinder Singh Ahluwalia played a vital role in helping people during the pandemic. They supplied over 5000 ration kits, 30000 food packers and worked constantly for the surplus supply of oxygen cylinders to the hospitals. In March 2020, Rashid Ansari and Nandita Narain started the ‘Mazdoor Kitchen’ to serve daily wage workers, for whom the pandemic was especially hard-hitting. In an exemplary case of solidarity, many communities started essentials and tiffin services for families who were suffering from COVID and isolated at home. We saw people going out of their way to arrange medicines for people they did not even know and such acts of kindness only reaffirm our faith in humanity.

The new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues take time to get used to. Adapting to lifestyle changes such as these, and managing the fear of contracting the virus and worrying about people close to us who are particularly vulnerable, are challenging for all of us. These are sure to cause anxiety and mental health problems. It is thus of utmost importance that in such challenging times, we are there for each other.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

It is a travesty that despite acknowledging and lionising the efforts of frontline workers, we fail to show solidarity with them. We are letting the fear of the virus limit us. Doctors and nurses all around the world are facing ostracisation, dealing with terrible working hours and conditions and the intense emotional turmoil that comes with first hand experiences of witnessing loss of lives and grief. It is not enough to praise and applaud health care workers — we must fight their fight and demand the best for them.

The continued lack of concern for humanity will only let the coronavirus to continue to surge and cause unnecessary suffering, pain and death. As times are changing at a faster rate in this era, we should all spread compassion wherever and whenever possible. We must remind each other that while this pandemic seems unending, there is a conclusion to every dark chapter in life and eventually, we will come out of such desperate times, stronger as a community. When we start showing humanity, all problems start looking small and easy to tackle, and everything can be overcome.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Written by Yoshita Singh, Nesamani, Sanskar Dagar, and Sneha Biswas

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