Is it “embarrassing” to be human?

“How embarrassing to be human” wrote Kurt Vonnegut. I am not really a die-hard fan of science fiction, but perhaps counterculture and satire can be my starting point here. I have been thinking that in the current crisis, we humans should be able to do better than “just” staying at home and wait for the moment we’ll be going back to normality, because there’s a war out there and that would be tantamount to doing nothing. If you ask me, that is!

It has been said by psychologists, Boris Cyrulnik amongst them, that many of us had hardly moved beyond the resistance approach, when resistance should be the initial phase towards achieving resilience. Resilience is key in the times we are going through. True, we have never ever ever experienced anything like this and we know we have brutally landed into a new world that is fraught with danger and novelty—even the covid virus has been named “novel”. If this were put into an equation, it could not be resolved as every part of it is an unknown. So we should be busy getting ready for the next stage and for our novel life.

I am a French native and English having been my “second native language” for so many years, I speak and read and write just as naturally in English. However, something’s happened to my writing recently. I have tended to feel like writing in English, as if it had become my “preferred language” over French. And that’s not an acknowledgement that English is the lingua franca of the 21st century, even more so than it has been the international language of the 20th. That is because of my living experience of the English language. English means resilience to me. I have spoken it from an early age, but when I started using it on a daily basis in my life and at work, I was already an adult and was going through a phase when I had to be strong and fend for myself. So if I rely on English at this precise moment in the current crisis, that means hopefully that I am on a proactive path and have embraced resilience, at least I hope so!

If I write this post, this is because I sense that the overwhelming majority of us are still in “resistance” mode, still in the moment and only in the moment. A few days ago, I spoke to a friend who seemed to have given up trying anything beyond being passive. His life revolved around watching Netflix and reading the news. He clearly said he did not have the mental strength to see beyond the “now”. True, being in the moment is what we need because we have a lot to worry about presently and overthinking the future sounds counterproductive and a waste of time. How can one be planning when it’s hard enough sorting out the fake news from the facts and we do not know how our lives after lockdown are going to look like. It is unbearable because even our governments are struggling too, some having turned the fake news culture into an art form.

There are two sides to the coin. Since the start of the outbreak, we have heard and read that we ought to stay safe and to stay connected. Being in lockdown and confined, in some countries more strictly than in others, has been an opportunity to reflect on a number of topics and prioritise. Apparently, some have managed to go back to basics and reason and brainstorm even, this is all over Twitter! For others it has been impossible.

Not all of us have been in a position to embrace a “less is more” approach, a Zen attitude, read Penguin’s classics in a cosy armchair sipping green leaf tea, while fighting for one’s business and helping out teenagers going through the rest of the school year with online tools that pose a potential threat of personal data breach? And how can we fight for our career and our  business when we are fighting a pandemic and worried sick about our children, family and friends? We have clearly suffered due to information overkill. But faced with an invisible enemy, we should be able to put up our defences and I wonder if staying at home for so long has not made us lower our guard.

So we have been in the now. Today, as easing measures on lockdown are being enforced in a number of countries, we are likely to stumble on both new issues and the old ones, revisited. Is it not high time we started reflecting on the whole experience, so we can plan ahead? In a nutshell—what world do we want to live in tomorrow?

So far, we have witnessed a 30% reduction in world pollution. We have all seen dolphins swimming happily in the Med and crystal-clear waters in Venice. In continental Europe, lockdown enforcement has avoided 11,000 fatalities otherwise caused by pollution. Covid-19 has spread more widely and has been more fatal in heavily polluted areas, e.g. New York, Milan, London, Venice.

Preliminary studies link air pollution to coronavirus deaths. Now, experts fear that there will be a boomerang effect if production goes back to pre-covid levels and that we will face an ever worse rise in air pollution. Scientists have said that if the destruction of nature is not halted, we will suffer even worse pandemics in the near future.

Across the Atlantic, there has been particular concern over air pollution emitted by industrial facilities, which are predominately located in communities with large numbers of low-income people and people of colour. In the US, companies will not face any sanctions for polluting the air or breaking pollution laws during coronavirus pandemic. Polluters will be able to ignore environmental laws as long as they can claim that these violations were caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the Guardian reported on 27 March 2020.

On a smaller scale, now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that we can safely say people should not have to be cooped up during summer, how are things going to pan out when can all catch up on two months’ reduced activity. I think I can safely say that I do not want to go back to live like before. I am not alone. But how do people in general really feel?

So many of us have lost their jobs and seen the outlook of their careers and future prospects brutally changed. At this stage, no one can say if this is for the better or if it’s all bleak, and there is a lot of anxiety in our lives. There is also pent-up energy, frustration and anger.

How is this bundle of mixed feelings going to express itself once the bans are lifted —notably in countries such as Spain, for instance, where the lockdown and self-isolation rules have been the strictest in the western world? Is this going to lead to excessive behaviour and bingeing. Yesterday was the inaugural day of the plan to ease on lockdown in Spain for over 14 year-olds. The result was abysmal. This was a sad show of collective hysteria, with cyclists, pedestrians and joggers literally running into each other, oblivious of social distancing and basic human rights. Are we going to need helicopters hovering around our heads blaring out instructions and police cars equipped with PA systems to protect us from ourselves? If Mr Orwell woke up today and come back to life in the 21st century, would he say that we live in Oceania indeed and that reality has imitated art? This has to be mentioned at some point. Are we going to have to scale up the confinement measures because herd immunity is not attainable without collapsing the health sector and people would rather parade around mask-free deluding themselves with the idea that they have recovered their freedom, rather than protect themselves and, more importantly, each other?

Will this be our tomorrow? Did we not say we did not want to go back to the world of before? The covid-19 crisis should be a potent wake-up call for humanity.

Did this article spur any reactions? Let us have your thoughts then please?

food for thought
Food for thought?!

Covid-19 and pandemics the new normal. Unless Humankind adapts swiftly…

Will outbreaks like Covid-19 be the new hurricanes, and/or add to them and add to the threats to us humans? True, we are the dominant species but we have been tampering with nature and altering biodiversity for too long, say a number of experts such as primatologist Jane Goodall, who said she hoped that a global movement of people calling for clean air will result from the global coronavirus outbreak, which has emptied cities of traffic. She says “hopefuly we should emerge wiser (after the coronavirus ends).”

Research by epidemiologist Christine K. Johnson from the Epicenter for Disease Dynamics, University of California, Why do viruses jump from animals to humans? Clues to the COVID-19 pandemic shows we have a lot to worry about.

Indeed, it would seem that environmental degradation, receding biodiversity -large chunks of the Great Barrier Reef are dying as we speak- and pandemics would seems to go hand in hand.

In an interview with the Economist, How society can overcome covid-19, Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who incidentally had also acted as a consultant as far  back as 2011 on the screenplay of the film “Contagion”, says that sadly “for years” (….) he, along with “30 to 50 or all the infectious-disease epidemiologists” had “warned about the possibility of a new global pandemic”. He also touches on the possibility that societies have not taken Covid-19 seriously enough, some countries like the UK having begun “on a misguided mission to allow or think that they could allow everybody or a large number of people to become infected, in an effort to reach the epidemiologist’s Holy Grail of “herd immunity”, others like the USA allowing beach parties, while France allows people to go out in a one-kilometre radius around their homes every day.

However, in his opinion, countries can test, quarantine and prepare for the post-coronavirus world, says Larry Brilliant. So why are they not really getting their act together for the sake of their citizens? When the whole covid-19 affair has subsided a little, a myriad of accountability questions will need to be addressed.

Then another issue that comes to the fore is that millenials and our children born one and two decades ago, have suffered or known of two crises already, if one counts the climate emergency crisis and this pandemic. The new generations will need an extremely proactive approach to withstand the turmoils ahead. And we their parents, should help those born in the 2000s take on the right skillset and an “always on the ball” sort of frame of mind.

Worse even, southern Europe’s millenials have suffered three huge crises now they are in their mid-30s, with the dire consequences of the 2007-2008 financial crisis adding to the other two big issues, because the impact has been felt a lot more in the south than in the north of Europe. According to The Economist’s Southern Europe’s millennials suffer two huge crises by their mid-30s Will their pain turn them radical?, apathic, escapist or radicalist behaviour could emerge out of this trend. The rationale is that coming of age in a crisis has “long-term political consequences”. Also “People’s values tend to crystallise in their mid-20s.” And millennials in southern Europe “have found themselves unceremoniously shoved down the order of priorities. In such circumstances, the economic basics trump more complex issues when it comes to politics; those in northern Europe can still afford to care about other topics.” As evidence, when the number of Green MEPs has nearly doubled in the north, Spain, Italy and Greece boast only one, while they make up a quarter of the EU’s population. Apathy may set in as well, with 80% of the young feeling depressed.

“All generations suffer during a crisis. But the consequences last longer for the young. Economic misery has a tendency to compound.” If radicalism takes a hold on them, this is because “many voters will feel that the social contract has been so badly breached that they would rather rip it up altogether” with a comeback of a left-right split on economics to help the established parties rather unlikely.

J. Goodall says that “We need a different way of thinking about things. We need to realize that unlimited economic development on a world with finite natural resources and growing human populations can’t work,”. We need to realise that we all have a part to play and that if we all try and do a little on our own scale, this only can help the tide turn. So let’s come to our senses and see that it still makes sense to think that “every little helps”, like every gesture of ‘viral’ gratitude and kindness, e.g. the standing ovations all across the world.

Outbreaks could become the new normal unless man changes, adapts and becomes more humble towards nature. And unless we do this now.

True, COVID-19 is a bane. But could there be a boon behind it?

The boon could be the revival and the rebirth of nature, less and less constrained by human pollution.

There is only one way —keeping up the good work.

COVID-19 HAS REVEALED THAT POLLUTION could be stopped, and then reduced if the effort would continue. If we push this rationale further, we can imagine that the plastic ocean out there could be tackled efficiently. Isn’t it high time we started to think seriously about reducing our plastic consumption, starting with one simple gesture—saying no to single-use plastic altogether.

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Here are 20 small actions that could do wonders for the planet —20 easy kind gestures that will have a snowball effect and make a BIG difference.

Let’s think. If less petrol is being used, less petrol will be produced. If no single-use plastics are being consumed and less plastic is being bought, the production of plastic will go down.

It all starts with the following 20 actions that we can easily invite into our daily routines.

20 small actions can unleash an incredible power!


LATEST20ACTIONS—————————

Bilingualism makes you intelligent and humble!!!

According to this article published in The Economist:

“A second language expands the number of people you can talk to. It adds to the ways you can say things, and so offers a second point of view on the whole business of expression. Bilingualism may help you understand other people; one study found that bilingual children are better at grasping other perspectives, perhaps because they are always keeping track of who speaks what, a regular reminder that everyone is different. Finally, speaking a second language less well than your first supplies another kind of useful practice: it is a constant exercise in humility.”

 

 

https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2020/02/29/the-advantages-of-speaking-a-second-language

In 2020, let’s achieve 20 actions for our planet

HNY2020

Happy

New Year to all!!!

 

Wait, though, this is not all!!! There’s something else!

There is something else we have to say this January. That concerns the year 2020, and also the new decade. Because this year we did not only see out 2019. We have just waived goodbye or said hello to a whole decade! There’s a big symbol here and we should feel a sense of responsibility towards Mother Earth.

In a nutshell, the 2020s are going to be crucial, paramount, essential, for our future.

So just look at the following vignettes. There are going to be 20 of them! Sorry if the first one is a bit blunt. The idea behind it was to show we need umph. We felt it had to be impactful!

 

2020 greetings.jpg2020 greetings_Action 2