I promise you this is not going to be yet another standard blog about the medical or biological nature of COVID-19 and it’s physiological and socio-economic impact – I am sure you all have been reading plenty of well-researched, well-articulated articles across the world written by experts, including a report published by our very own Imperial College London which many news articles claim was the prime catalyst for the UK and US administrations to step up their actions against the spread of COVID-19! My intention, however, is to reflect on what I have learnt from the ancient epics and scriptures from my traditions and culture and what it taught me about the attitude and mindset one needs amidst this global war.
Being a foot-solider and listening to our commanders-in-chief
This is not the time, in my humble opinion, to express our ‘right to express dissent’ against the Government or institutions. This is especially applicable in Western democracies like the UK, where I have seen so many people just blindly ignoring or neglecting the advice regarding COVID-19 simply because it is from someone who they don’t like for political purposes. I can say this because my experience in London a few weeks into the pandemic and the ‘care-free’ and stubborn attitude of people not taking proper precautions, despite multiple advisories and guidance from medical and government institutions. I sincerely feel this is not the time to demonstrate “freedom”, rather we must let go of our ego and become foot-soldiers obeying the commands of the commanders-in-chief- our medical and governmental institutions – surely they have MUCH MORE information at their fingertips than we receive through family, friends or other social media posts…
Focus more on performing our duties rather than demanding rights
Some may take offense- but as previously mentioned, these are reflections of my personal learning. Performance of duty is a concept that has been drilled into my head since childhood. Regardless of what the political system of our nation is, a duty-bound society based society is far more sustainable than a rights-based on. This is certainly NOT to disregard the importance of rights and speaking up for what we deserve. Rather, it is to advocate for performing our duties and responsibilities to our family, educational institution, nation, and the world first before complaining or demanding from the government. Millions of people are now unemployed, hungry and in desperate need of help. It would be too naive on our part to put the ENTIRE responsibility of ensuring that everyone is safe and economically well-off on political leadership because frankly, there are financial and administrative limits to how much a small group of ministers can handle, especially in times of crisis where the situation is so dynamic. If we can remind ourselves of our duties and follow them, I personally feel the situation can be dealt with more effectively rather than if we simply keep criticizing and demanding things.
Positivity, gratitude, and respect
Since the many weeks that have passed, I have been reading multiple rants (some of which are quite harsh and abusive) against the Imperial College leadership and departments on public social media platforms, with a lot of hateful language being used against the administration of the university. I am proud to say that I come from a culture that RESPECTS teachers, educational institutions and seniors, regardless of our preferences. Am I asking for too much when I say that those senior to us in the university deserve basic respect and decency from us? Yes, you have your issues with them – that’s what the student union is for! Do we still have the gratitude that we are in one of the top 10 universities across the world and that it is each one of our duties to be dedicated students and use a constructive approach when criticizing rather than resort to vulgar, hateful comments on social media? Perhaps a little gratitude to EACH AND EVERY member of staff and leader of our university, alongside those who health workers and volunteers and our political leaders included who are all playing their part in fighting against a common enemy, is a much more sensible representation of us as responsible young adults, as opposed to the vulgar rants and a constant sense of ‘entitlement’ to always be at the receiving end…