If we pause and glance at this moment it is unbelievable that people are more scared for their life because of a virus which has impacted less than 0.000056% of the world population than climate change which will impact all of them. It is appalling that people feel more for coronavirus patients which number in a few thousands than the millions under more brutal conditions in war-stricken regions around the globe. This sad reality, however, has become the invisible war everyone is fighting.
How do you fight an invisible enemy within ourselves and with the outside? It is shocking how quickly time has changed. The start of the roaring twenties was marked with the assassination of Qassim Soleimani. It seems like he died a century ago. As stock markets around the world crash and the value of paper money reignites, it seems like reality is a modern movie of war times where going out essentially means one’s doom. But this essay will talk about the enemy within and how people are trying to live in such uncertain times.
Before moving forward, it is imperative to understand what the enemy within is. As more than 30 countries, mostly developed, are in a lockdown the world has slowed. Businesses are collapsing, unemployment is soaring. Preliminary numbers are showcasing as much as 30 million jobs in the US are already being impacted. This information overload has been the biggest problem of this pandemic. Fake news is circulating like wildfire. All this has added to the stress which people are facing. And this is the enemy within. The frustration, the anxiety, the uncertainty which people are facing is more deadly than this virus.
What are people currently doing in these uncertain times in this fight with ourselves masked around isolation and quarantine? Being a Muslim in a Muslim-majority country, many have found their solace in religion. Many feel that this virus is a test from the Creator due to corruption in society. As religious leaders go live on the television and people participate in collective prayers, it speaks volumes of how effective religion is. Religion masks the uncertain by ingraining the concept of the afterlife, of judgement resulting in paradise or hell in its followers. It is more effective than any writ of the state. For those who are dying it is seen as martyrdom. This blank cheque which religion has, however, is dangerous too. With martyrdom on the cards, people fear death less and see it as God’s way. Seeing it as beyond their control many do not adhere to the pleas of the state making it an even greater worry. Marx correctly stated that religion is the opium of people. It has never been more apparent than now as this balancing act is underway.
The information overload has made these times into a social media war. Conspiracies of this being biowarfare between the US and China are frequently making their way in people’s hands. If one dwells into these messages, one would not leave them without believing them.
For the young generation, which has rarely mostly never been victim to such lockdown, it is hanging in there. The internet is the greatest saving grace for the people. Telecommunication companies must be raking in record profits as distance has made communication even more vital. YouTube and other streaming services would likewise be under a severe burden. Gaming services are under extreme stress to ensure service delivery to gamers with servers. Academic institutes are racing against the time to work out a new way to provide education to the stranded people to keep them busy.
This quarantined time is bound to have huge impacts on the future. As ice sheets melt at alarming rates, centuries-old germs and disease will spread across the globe. Such pandemics, henceforth, will be more in number. The role of the state is likely to increase as well. To curb the spread of such disease, more surveillance will be undertaken. Biotech is the next big change in health services. The timeline has been changed rapidly and what seemed like the future course of action is the most urgent action in today’s times. What happens from here is up to the people. Either they can make the best of this time to rethink how the world functions and hope for a better tomorrow, or wait for this calamity to pass and go back to unsustainable practices making doom a faster and harsher reality. God save us.
Muhammad Humza Amir khan