Mass crematoriums and graves, long waiting lines outside hospitals, people dying in hordes from lack of oxygen and medication. The situation in India is out of control.
Hospital workers are working overtime risking their own lives for others. And if they fall victim to the Covid virus themselves, they are not guaranteed a bed. There just aren’t any available.
The images and videos do not lie. Tweets from family members begging for help online are not fake news. These are real human beings dealing with the most horrifying conditions. But in our haste to assign blame, it’s been depressing to see many regular people put their humanity aside and close their eyes to this tragedy unfolding.
There have been many debates — all day, every day on the news, on social media, and between our own family and friends. And I am not here to rehash them.
This is a plea for us, for just a minute or so, to put aside comments like:
“Well, why didn’t they wear masks? They deserve it!” Or
“Well, why didn’t they exercise or take care of their health before?”
“This makes us look bad in front of our neighbors.”
“Well, those kinds of people are always like that.”
Why are we like this?
Just for a few moments, let’s pause in silence and acknowledge those we lost, those still in pain, loved ones who are struggling, those for whom this trauma will undoubtedly trigger memories of any past traumatic experiences, those who feel helpless, and those in a primal, survival mode trying to navigate the systems that are failing them.
The virus doesn’t care if you believe in a specific God, another one, or no God. It doesn’t care if you have been a nice person or a terrible one. It doesn’t care if you are the leader of a global corporation or a humble wage worker. It does not care which political party you voted for. It doesn’t care if you are a vegetarian or you like your butter chicken. It doesn’t care if you’re decked in designer wear or hand-me-downs.
The virus does not care. It has only one agenda. Find host. Occupy host. Multiply. Deplete host resources. Repeat with the next set of hosts.
Collectively, we are not doing ok right now. It’s ok to acknowledge it. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know what to do. But I do know what I feel. And I feel helplessness and grief.
“India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and its rich and varied heritage.”
As kids, we recited this pledge every day at school. We didn’t think much of it then but maybe we can revisit the meaning of these words.
Let’s take a time out from Twitter or WhatsApp battles to shed a tear or two for the brothers and sisters we lost. Maybe we pause from forwarding hate, political propaganda (on all sides) or misinformation, and use our time to call and check in on loved ones and tell them, “You’re going to be ok.” Maybe when we watch the news, we need to tune out the perpetually-outraged talking heads and focus on the distressed eyes of the real people in need instead.
Only then can we restore the humanity within us — or else, we are no better than the virus, mutating into more destructive versions until we are unrecognizable even to ourselves.