“Every pandemic indeed creates new sociology. Thus, in the case of the present pandemic, people will create a different relationship with the gods, religious institutions and worship places – it may be a rational inquiry or ignorant submission. None knows. However, some of the hardliners associated with organized religions might promote the idea of divine punishment.”
By Zaffar Junejo
Soon the lockdown day three will be over. The print media went with the updated cases of the coronavirus. The electronic media refreshed the figures. However, the unscheduled calls for the prayer from the neighborhood mosque and untimely crowing of the roosters are reaching me. I understand the reasons for Pesh Imam’s calling. But, I couldn’t grasp why rooster crow at this time –midday. I intended to solve the puzzle. I searched on the website. I found an interesting article at the blogs of Scientific American’s anthropology section. It stated that the Roosters crow due to certain biological reasons and it is associated with the intensity of light. However, some roosters also crow at different times, and reasons are ‘contextual-dependent.’ The phrase is not further defined.
I stopped the search and checked the email. I opened the email of Irfan Ahmed Khan, who has sent links of three articles: How to Talk to Coronavirus Skeptics, published in New Yorker, What it’s Like to Promote a Book in the Middle of a Pandemic, appeared in Electronic Literature, and A Tale of Two Plagues: Tips on self-isolation, appeared in The Nation. I downloaded the first and saved.
I clicked the Facebook and noticed the frustration barometer of the users. The isolation, gradual rise in the coronavirus cases and its geographical scale had triggered their frustrations. So, most of them have crossed the ‘complaining zone’ and now entered ‘fear-zone’ and soon the majority will be landing on ‘dependency-zone.’ They will desperately search for superman, who in minutes could secure their lives. The first, they will wait for the development of the vaccination, but its procedural delay will push them to pray for their committed and even non-committed sins and crimes. Every pandemic indeed creates new sociology. Thus, in the case of the present pandemic, people will create a different relationship with the gods, religious institutions and worship places – it may be a rational inquiry or ignorant submission. None knows. However, some of the hardliners associated with organized religions might promote the idea of divine punishment. Although, the artists and writers might take Coronavirus – as a ‘danse macabre’ (dance of death), or ‘vanitatem’ (emptiness) and generate new genres of the expression in art and literature.
The present pandemic has pinpointed that our public health system was not appropriate, our interaction with nature was not just, and our mass-scale production was based on the exploration of our global family.
Please allow me to sum up my yesterday’s reading of Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World. My friend Irfan Ahmed Khan had emailed me the PDF version. The author has systematically proved that Spanish Flu affected the world politics, human relations, communal as well as family structure. It also conditioned the subjects of art and literature. Generally, it is viewed that to some extent the Spanish Flue also played a minute role in the Independence of India. The book is an artistic-mingle of virology, history, psychology epidemiology and economics. I am ending the brief review of the book with the words of the author Laura Spinney, “France, where I live, there are more than 170,000 monuments to the First World War. To my knowledge, there is only one to the 1918 influenza pandemic.”
Laura Spinney’s words induce me to ponder, why there are no monuments of the people, who died in the pandemic. The case in point is of ‘Spanish Flu 1918’ which caused the death of 50 to 100 million people. I am not sure. Perhaps one of the reasons that pushed the leaders for not constructing the monuments might be that such construction would be a constant reminder for politicians, religious leaders, and business tycoons that how much we are fragile before nature, and how long we will set the wrong priorities, and religious leaders continue to make people mentally salve through rituality and practice. I am afraid even there will be no monument for the ‘coronavirus-dead-people.’ I believe reasons would be the same, which halted the leaders to erect the monument for the people who lost their lives in the Spanish Flu 1918.
The lessons coronavirus has taught us that human beings shouldn’t steal the resources of other biological brothers and sisters. And, the human beings’ vision should be based on the realization that we are part of species, and in many ways, humans are not superior to other members of species.
Let me end my write up, with Frank M. Snowden’s quote, who is Professor Emeritus of History and History of Medicine at Yale University, regarding the pandemics. He says: “On the contrary, every society produces its specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand that society’s structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities.”