Message to a sick planet


By Oluwaseyi Oso

For months now, we have all been made to forcedly hide ourselves under our roofs to combat this unseen enemy that keeps subjugating lives. Many of us are still in trepidation as the numbers of infections and deaths increase: over one million confirmed cases; more than 61,000; about 240 recoveries.  Within this period of time, we have watched our economy deprecating before our eyes—but we are incapable of quelling this—; our health-care systems have lost control over the right antidote to surmount Covid-19; the world is not the same again as we are pushed out of our workplaces; churches and mosques are locked down. This pandemic has shown a similarity to the past wars that history apprised us about.  Scrolling through the pages of history, I was shocked to decode how the world faced several cataclysmic pandemics that made it appear like the world was coming to an end. The Antonine Plague of 165 AD left a death toll of five million human beings.

The plague was recorded to have affected Asia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. The Plague of Justinian (541-542) took 25 million lives; and it is said to have killed half the population of Europe. From 1346-1353, the Black Death entrapped Europe, Asia, Africa, with an estimated death toll between 75 and 200 million people. The 1918 Flu Pandemic killed more than 50 million people. Third cholera pandemic (1852-1860) is considered the deadliest of the seven-cholera pandemic, with a death toll of one million people. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed more than 36 million people since its incipience. Presently, between 31 and 35 million people are living with the HIV. But as developments ensued, novel method of treatments has made the HIV manageable.  Towards the end of the previous decade, December 2019, the world did not dream of a virus as malignant as Covid-19 that would crash human activities. After the virus had spread to more than 114 countries, in March, the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. That same month, more than half a million people were infected globally.

The modern world is filled with a lot of advancement but all we have built in the past are receding as we are all distancing ourselves from others, nation to nation, person to person. This would help us realise that we are not as different as we think. There is a spiritual energy that binds every person on the planet. As we continue to distance ourselves from other people, I know we would decipher how conspicuous it was to live with people in harmony. This is a time we need to know that our reflections are present in our fellow’s eyes. Nothing completely differentiates us.

I remember a time, after Nigeria was falsely declared free from Covid-19, a preacher said it is a result of Nigeria’s resilience in service to God, and Nigeria is not as onerous as the majorly affected nations; he exampled Italy where the virus is horridly traducing the heart of people with fear whilst sending thousands to the grave at once. What I instanced from his statement was lack of empathy. If he had known that the human race is just a single family, scattered in several mansions, fenced by the human spirit and Nature, he would not mouth those words. I hope he would have a change of thought now to see that the planet is one building with several rooms in it—the continents. When there are troubles going on, some rooms could be exempted while others may not; also, the trouble could be ubiquitously shared. We need to avail of ourselves of a truth this period—Empathy.

A lot of people find it hard to know that another helpless human being is just like them. They are not convinced that the psychological wars in another individual’s mind could also have affected them. Empathy is the ability to experience another person’s grief, fear, or joy in your mind. This is how the world can become a single force against the enemies that fight us. We have been engrossed, outright, with our personal selves that we begin to vituperate someone else for a particularly unexpected action. We do not imagine that man or woman could have been us, too. Empathy helps us to connect and by connecting, we have the ability to fight our wars together.

There are many people in the world who thinks that no one will ever love them; and that’s why suicidal thoughts left unexpressed affect the human body. The mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. We have recorded several deaths from suicide in the world, and this is as a result of our inability to empathise with ourselves. When I read and hear about the victims of the Covid-19, I picture myself in them. It could have been me, too. I know many people will try to dissolve this notion, perhaps religiously, that the virus cannot affect them. This is not what humanity hinges on. We need to understand that the perfection we desire in the world can only be realistic if we form a strong force of empathy and compassion as one planet. To reiterate, so many industries out there, currently, cannot function without physical contact with another; thus, economy begins to crash. This is an implication that we need to be connected for some achievements to be projected.

Gazing at the political scene in some countries and how the masses try to bring to bear a government that can feel their pains and meet their needs, one would deduce that a lot of damages have been done since there is no connection between the government and the people. For instance, in Nigeria, our health-care system is nothing to be proud of. Now that the virus has hit both the government and the people whose complaints were disregarded; I hope they would realise that developing a society of your own is better than going elsewhere to find treatment. The outbreak of Ebola virus in Nigeria many years ago, paved way for the establishment of isolation centres; perhaps this is what this outbreak will eventuate at the end—development. The health-care system which was not formerly paid attention is now the only avenue left for the country to fight this deadly virus since there is no way to transcend the country as other nations of the world are battling the virus as well. Why was the development neglected in the past? If the government was able to empathise with the common people, they would have discovered that they are not especially different from the people they serve and they have a responsibility of giving out what they would give to themselves. This outbreak might serve as a fulcrum of change for the country and the entire world to use the present time in creating and preparing for a more civilised and humane future.

Admittedly, as we all stay safely in our homes, I hope that at the end of this present darkness in humanity we would learn to be more compassionate and empathetic in dealing with ourselves. Only by empathy can we lastingly establish world peace. There are homeless people scattered everywhere and it is really a cruel time for them. But I hope that we come to think of the beauty of being together and helping other people because we are all equal. This is why Covid-19 can affect every descent. I hope that the government and the people, religion to religion, nation to nation, will replace conflict with togetherness. This is part of my message to our sick planet.

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