The Covid-19's outbreak has not just contributed to changing lives, but surely our perspective towards life too. Up until a few months ago, we all viewed life as a never-ending rat race, and were entitled about it as some kind of 'property' that we could continue to own for an indefinite time-period – but not anymore. I'm not claiming that we as a people did not at all acknowledge life's fragility or its temporary nature, but all I'm saying is: we did not reflect as much about life, as we have all started to do lately.
From the freedom to breathe, walk out in the open to just visiting anyone, anywhere without thinking much to just 'being', we have taken so much for granted. What I primarily believe has changed post-pandemic is the freedom supplanted by 'fear'. The fear of catching the virus, the fear of getting any of our loved ones infected – and of course: the consequences that might follow. Quite a few of us even caught this virus, and if not that, someone or the other from within our extended families, friends or acquaintances at one point or the other, went through the ordeal of having gotten Covid-positive. While we do foresee chances of a vaccine helping to battle this virus, more head on, more than the virus, seems like that the fear is here to stay. The fear to breathe the same way, eat the same way, travel the same way – the fear to just 'be'.
But do we realize that there's a silver lining in every dark cloud that covers the sky of our lives? This novel-like sentence would not appeal to someone who has just lost a loved one to this deadly pandemic, or fears to lose one, God forbid, in the near future. However, at this point, I want to be able to address anyone and everyone suffering in whatever way because of this pandemic. From someone who has lost a job to someone who has lost his or mental well-being to someone who is not just physically the same anymore to someone who hasn't lived their moment of graduation to someone who has suffered a loss as great as losing someone near and dear to them.
I want to say, all of you, all of us are 'valid' in the way we have been suffering, or continue to. We must not qualify, identify our suffering as some kind of hedonism, just because we are relatively more privileged in our most subjective ways – instead, we should be all-embracing towards our fears together. If speaking specifically of Pakistan, what have we not battled? What have we not seen? From seeing martial law regimes defying our fundamental individual rights to politicians doing populist sloganeering and not living up to their promises that our lives would be filled with welfare, what have we not witnessed? From seeing heavy rains, floods withering our farmers' hard work and our infrastructure away to picking up innumerable bodies after countless terrorist attacks to not running away from the various forms of extremism that still haunt our collective identity: we have seen it all, fought it all. And continue to fight too.
What is imperative is that this fight must also go on. For those of us, who have been showing resilience and empathy towards ourselves and towards others: we must not give up the fight. Few words, actions of kindness, empathy and mindfulness can either help light a flame of hope or reignite it for anyone who has the ability to fight, but has lost his or her will to continue. In trying to ingrain the very thought that this is the 'new normal', we have to also respect the transition, respect the fears that have come along – and let our lives flow organically, freely through these unchartered waters. After all, there's nothing as bad about fearing – than is to avoid facing the fears. Together we fight, together we share the pain, and together we will win – one more time.
About the Writer: The writer is a political scientist based in Rawalpindi and a multi-level governance enthusiast. Tweets at @NawalAmjad12