2020 is a historic year; I doubt that you can convince me or any other person living on earth otherwise. With Black Lives Matter protests still ongoing in various cities across the globe and the K/D ratio of the Coronavirus showing little signs of halting, it can be extremely difficult to ignore what happens around you. Facebook and Instagram are filled with friends from school who somehow got a political science and population health education in the last 3 months. Youtube, Netflix, and other streaming apps are cashing in on this unique situation. But to me, all these are filled with noise. It is way too noisy right now.
The internet is a strange place. When you step inside it daily, someone tells you what has happened since you’ve been gone. Another person tells you what that event that happened means. And a third person will tell you what they are going to do because of that specific event. And to think that this happens 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The amount of information that you, an explorer, get exposed to is astronomical. Throw me into a jungle and I would probably feel less daunted. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon; but give the severity and intensity of all the events that are happening across the globe right now, being daunted feels like the only natural feeling.
I have a journal that I try to write in consistently. It was meant for me to record and remember what happens each day. But the past few days and weeks have been blank aside from a few random notes. The stay-at-home lifestyle which has somewhat robbed my life of defining moments of every day combined with the bombardment of news widely available due to the internet and Whatsapp group chats combined with a personal problem in my life makes me feel like screaming. I want to scream. Out. Very. Loud. Like this: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
On one hand, you are compelled to be kept updated with the events of the world or minimally your own country or region. But on the other hand, your brain does not want to think about it. That feeling that it is just refusing to acknowledge the addition of another problem to the stack of unfinished ones. And then you feel horrible, like you are a compasionless human being who doesn’t care about the thousands of unemployed people in your neighbourhood and the millions of ethnic minorities globally who are treated unfairly on a daily basis. Before you can even forgive yourself, your phone chimes to inform you of another breaking news.
Trying to break this cycle is deceptively difficult. Theoretically a to-do list can be made. Do my work daily, read maybe a few news articles if you really cannot help it, go on different sites for entertainment to freshen up, and switch off for the day. Writing this with a heart that has been a little disproportionately heavy the past few days/weeks, I think I’ve finally come to the answer, that we’re only human. That is a deceptively simple answer. But I think it is true.
“Don’t care too much, and life would be much simpler.” – Me, theoretically
To be human is to want to survive. In a money-driven world, joblessness feels gut-wrenching. The railroad on which you were travelling suddenly disappeared and soon enough you’re going to fall into a deep abyss whose depths are still unknown.
To be human is to care. Perhaps this is not an trait that applies to everyone towards everything, but even the most selfish person you’ll meet will flinch if a loved one is hurt.
I have come to the conclusion that based on those two traits of being human alone, I can learn to face this situation better. To be human is to survive, to be alive. I am still able to eat, and thankfully still have a job. The other day my mom said she wanted me to order Bak Kut Teh for lunch the next day. After choosing what she wanted to order, she told me to insert the address of one of her friends whom I later found out was laid off recently. To be human is to want to survive, but to be human is fragile too. To lose your source of income is painful, and that feeling of a lack of direction in an already-confusing world is not a fun experience. Losing your sense of identity and confidence in a seemingly-hopeless economy is hardly exciting. To be human is to want to survive. You are alive. You are breathing. Maslow’s Level 1 needs are met. But to be human is also to be subjective. That is why we live in societies, because people are greater than the sum of its parts. We cannot get through things alone, in the midst or outside of a crisis.
“A student once asked anthropologist Margaret Mead, ‘What is the earliest sign of civilization?’ The student expected her to say a clay pot, a grinding stone, or maybe a weapon.Margaret Mead thought for a moment, then she said, ‘A healed femur.’
A femur is the longest bone in the body, linking hip to knee. In societies without the benefits of modern medicine, it takes about six weeks of rest for a fractured femur to heal. A healed femur shows that someone cared for the injured person, did their hunting and gathering, stayed with them, and offered physical protection and human companionship until the injury could mend. Mead explained that where the law of the jungle—the survival of the fittest—rules, no healed femurs are found. The first sign of civilization is compassion, seen in a healed femur.” – Ira Byock
To be human is to care.
And with all that, I have come to realise that, it is what it is. I think my way of getting through the next few weeks is to remind myself that. The Coronavirus exists; some people lose their jobs, and sadly many have passed on. But it is what it is. Note the present tense. What has passed has passed, and what is is what is. The 5 stages of grief tells us that the last stage is acceptance. Isn’t it ironic that in order to get through this grief and care for others who are present, we need to stop caring about the past? I was stuck in a limbo, maybe my mum has figured it out; how to move on. She has faced a few epidemics and a few financial crises. She knows how to accept what has happened, analyse the happenings of today, drown out the noise, and acknowledge that problems will always exist and understand that the only thing to do, the only thing we can do, is put one foot in front of the other. After doing that, take care of today, take care of the people of today, and perhaps, hopefully, tomorrow will take care of itself.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life” – Luke 12:35
My mind is everywhere now, it is 4am and I definitely have to sleep. Let’s take each day in stride.