Updated: March 26, 2020 12:07:01 pm
Every global crisis has its own philosophical import and an embedded message. We can ignore it only at our peril. In more recent history World War II ended with unmistakable warning against nationalistic zealotry and use of nuclear weapons. The world managed to heed both the messages for about 70 years before one of them – extreme and exclusivist nationalism – started raising its head again in several parts, including in India. Use of nuclear weapons has although been refrained from, its deterrent value still being traded as a weapon of blackmail if not destruction.
Some messages led to the greater good of greater numbers but, simultaneously, also led to its tweaking to reinvent older evils by some other name. For example, imperialism led to two World Wars but their horrific effects paved way for good sense to prevail resulting in greater co-operation among nations and opening up of national economies and international trade. But it was also used by some to unleash their hidden economic imperialism.
All this, however, was always open to amendments from time to time, thus preventing the world from total collapse. Yet, we haven’t apparently fully come to grips with the most alarming of the global crises of environmental degradation yet. We still are fighting for our economic interests instead of unitedly facing the effects of the environmental crisis.
The crisis created by the spread of coronavirus, however, is unprecedented and much more egalitarian in the sense that it had threatened the entire world like no other threat ever before. Its rapid infestation has made the world sit up and respond. Ironically, nations of the world have to fight it by sealing their borders. Like the coronavirus patients, nations, too, had to quarantine themselves. What we are going through must never have been experienced by our forefathers during our history of several thousand years. We are yet not sure if and where, when and how the corona threat is going to end. But we sure have a few takeaways to reboot our world and make it a better place to live.
The most important of all takeaways is abstinence from the overexploitation of natural resources. We have shut ourselves indoors for a period that we never previously thought was even imaginable, forget being possible. But here we are, forced to live with minimal provisions lest we perish. If we can do that, say for a month at a stretch, why shouldn’t we practice it for at least for a day or two every week? It offers huge returns in terms of saving fossil fuels. It will not only save us huge money but will also help delay the process of environmental degradation. We can use those two ‘shut’ days entirely for our families, which, in turn, will restore the fast-eroding family bonds. Needless to say, this has to be done unexceptionally by all the countries since “no work” holidays are bound to retard a country’s economic growth as well. No country shouldn mind that as long as all agree to do it.
On “open” days, we can further whittle it down by offering at least two “work from home” days wherever possible. It will save more fuel and thus more foreign exchange for countries like India.
One of the social advantages of this “abstinence” regimen would be drastic reduction in accidents and crimes. Less crowd or no crowd on streets would also vastly reduce our solid waste burden, thus catalysing the process of restoration of environmental balance.
What it will also do is reduce the spread of contagious diseases. It could actually work wonders in extremely crowded and most populated cities.
All this, of course, comes at a price. It demands not only a great resolve to help mankind from a possible apocalypse, but also renunciation of age-old straight-jackets. For example, if the “shut” days unavoidably happen to eclipse some of the auspicious muhurats for religious observance, we will have to let go off the latter.
Of course, the two-day abstinence idea isn’t an “open” and “shut” case and will need to be worked out in a more nuanced fashion. We will have also to decide how long we must observe this abstinence. But we have already made the beginning per force. Why not give it a willful shot? If people of the world unite to do this, they have nothing to lose but a little bit of their self-indulgence. Their loss would be their descendants’ gain. That’s not a small gain to be happy about.
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