When Covid-19 was wreaking havoc with lives and healthcare systems in larger parts of the planet, people around the world were nervous and awe-struck. They had not even remotely experienced anything of this kind of mass extermination of their kinds at the hand of a sub-microscopic pathogen---one that undergoes mutations to change its shape like the Ramayana-famed 'rakkhasa' and lethal power in order to overpower its victims. It was the time when the prism was directed towards self and for the time being there was an indication that the world mired with self interests was relearning compassion and selfless devotion to fellow human beings.
The World War I and II also helped people inculcate values and sacrifice but only selectively against the utmost brutality, violence and hostility that the conflicts brought in its wake. This time the enemy is none of their own kind but an unseen virus. In the war against it, people started realising the inadequacy of advancement of science and, therefore, their helplessness before the tiny but supremely powerful enemy.
Whether it is a deliberately created pathogen that has accidentally escaped a laboratory or one that has found its origin in the poisonous climate humans have end up creating by way of releasing carbon and other harmful gases along with residues of dangerous chemicals has divided nations. But even without the division on such a line, there was no sign the world would become one to fight the bacterium.
At a time when no alternative other than imposition of lockdowns was open to governments, people in service in the private sector, more particularly in the informal sector, and wage earners --- many of whom earn a pittance for their daily labour, suddenly found themselves in a dire situation. Those who lost their jobs and the daily wage earners suddenly found themselves with no means to feed themselves and members of their families.
Although, initially generosity flowed out of the realisation that life is transient and helping the needy is not just a responsibility but a compulsive act of the heart that melted to see the fellow human beings and even animals---some of them scavenger---not managing anything for their survival suffering for want of food. Small wonder that individuals, organisations and even members of the law enforcement agencies volunteered to reach victuals and other material and moral supports to the needy.
It was quite encouraging that people felt for each other in time of crisis. If death is the ultimate leveller, dire crises are indirect but powerful change-makers to bring out the best in human beings. Although people had to maintain their physical distances, they were closer in terms of their feeling for each other. A sense of togetherness and human bond prevailed all around. It raised hope that the world was changing for the better with rediscovering their inner worth on the premise of moral dictate of the soul and the value of humanism.
However, the powerful force of market economy where profit is the ultimate mantra was not to be overpowered by this fellow feeling among the humble people in society. The rich and superrich still felt they were protected by the fortress they had built around them. So they did not forget their trade and amassing wealth even during the peak time of the pandemic. The result is for all to see. Barring a rare few, most of the rich and superrich have added fabulous amount to their already staggering volumes of wealth.
This may have influenced the next categories of moneyed class like industrialists and traders who have been on an aggressive campaign to garner atrocious profits on their investment. Or, else there could not be the abnormal inflation now sweeping across the globe following the first sign of an economic turnaround. Most of these classes received stimulus packages on the plea of losses suffered on account of the pandemic. With the injection of government funds, they are now making the most of the situation in the aftermath of the deadly Delta's remission.
The man on the street and all who lost everything to the pandemic are not even beneficiaries of the trickle-down economic benefits. This is unacceptable on both material and moral ground. Thus moral and humanistic preponderance has become a casualty on the altar of hawkish business. A change in the heart that could make this world a better place has been sabotaged by mundane considerations. Does Omicron variant once again remind people of their deviation from the course they were opting to pursue? Maybe, or maybe not, but the message is clear that the human race has gone well beyond their soul's order.
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