Moral Lessons Humanity Should Learn from the Coronavirus Pandemic
Author: Jerry Locula
Translated into Spanish by Ana Elena Acón
Amidst the shocking waves of the coronavirus pandemic that has struck the world, Jerry Locula shares his thoughts on how he sees the world today, and how the world will never be the same again. He highlights that peace is not squarely the absence of war, thereby auguring that the coronavirus has derailed personal peace and societal peace. He urges humanity to appreciate every little thing that was once taken for granted before the arrival of the coronavirus. He believes the world has changed and the new normal has arrived at the doorsteps of human culture. Jerry urges every individual person to show a little bit of love and kindness so that our world will be a better place and at peace for all.
The absence of violence is not necessarily the presence of peace
The absence of active violence including civil war, communal unrest, and conventional hostility may not necessarily mean that there is peace. There are forces that erode and derail peace, even though there may be no actual violence or bloodshed. Conversation in the environment of peace to mean the absence of war must also allow us to see deeper and even deeper.
“Peace does not necessarily mean people are at peace and the society is peaceful” (Kahuho, 2019) if there is no presence of violent clashes. This is because there are existing problems and hostilities” (Kahuho, 2029). There are other factors we must take into account because I consider peace to be holistic. I see peace as the embodiment of total or inclusive tranquility; from our surroundings, physical and mental, to our sound and whole inner wellbeing.
Peace can also be absent when natural disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides or floods, climate change, and tornadoes erupt. When epidemics and pandemics like the coronavirus arrives, peace can be affected. We have all witnessed the unprecedented devastation and consequences the coronavirus has caused so far in the first half of 2020 AD, and it seems not to be slowing down. With this, I see no peace.
Social effects and downturn of the coronavirus
The world has faced a difficult time in the last few months. Too much panic, a large global death toll (WHO, 2020) with grimy economic impact (McKinsey & Company, 2020). Besides the high death toll that has overwhelmed cities, hospitals, communities, and families the world over due to the coronavirus, without any disagreement whatsoever, I believe that world peace has been affected. International peace and security have come under serious threat. The lockdown measures, state of emergencies, global travel breakdown, stagnation, hunger, loss of jobs, economic decline, inaccessibility of needs, disruptions in life and culture, and the list goes on. These are indicative that there is no peace.
Therefore, let’s not attempt to narrow peace to only mean when there are no active warfare or battlefields nearby. In fact, and for some reason, I see the coronavirus pandemic as a battlefield in its own uniqueness.
Lack of food is lack of peace
Since the lockdown, I have been making routine checks on not only family members, but friends as well, in places far and near. Talking about hunger, job insecurity, and the question of peace amid the coronavirus, I have learned how the virus has affected personal peace and societal harmony from these conversations I have had.
When I spoke with a couple of my acquaintances in Uganda, Rwanda, Liberia, and elsewhere, peace has been lacking in their lives even though there has been no physical violence or aggression.
The worry and fear of not only getting sick by the virus, but also the lack of food and the many nights of hunger populations have faced has been extraordinarily sad. Those people who have been going without food for days since the pandemic have no peace in their lives. And I strongly believe that when there’s no food, there can be no peace. Food is one essential element tied to the survival of all human beings.
When I called my friend in Kigali at 02:00 am [local time in Kigali] in late May 2020, wondering why he was not asleep at that time, he said to me, “We have no peace! We have been facing hunger since the lockdown measures as a result of the coronavirus. We have no food and so it is difficult to sleep because a person cannot just sleep on an empty stomach.”
With the above-mentioned experience by my friend, his family and I guess many others, it then becomes a reality that even though there is no war, but there is no peace. Even though there might be no physical violence in many places around the world since the pandemic, but peace is lacking for many reasons. This is why even in the absence of physical violence; we must see deeper before we conclude that there is peace.
Lack of peace in the midst of abundance
When authorities imposed the lockdown measures, even those with an abundance of resources including money and everything, have got to have no peace. As in the case of the haves not, I continued to interact with some of my connections who are well-off or affluent.
My friend Jim has a big car, a huge and beautiful house with everything in it. He is a retired medical doctor from a well-renounce health institution. He has everything to his disposal. But despite the profusion, he has had no peace since the coronavirus.
Fear of not getting infected, the restriction of movement; especially being an outgoing gentleman, has taken a toll on him. Being worried about his aged and ill parents on the side of the virus, at the same time taking care of them has also weighed him so much. He tells me that he’s confused, upset, preoccupied, and has no peace despite his comfortable social status.
Peace is just far more than the absence of war or violence. Let me make it clear that what affects the individual person, consequently affects his community and the larger society.
Let’s examine what might be serious moral lessons the coronavirus may have taught all of us.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the reality that was once
With all of the above, and taking into account our day-to-day life, there is an imperative moral lesson we all must learn indicative of the coronavirus.
In this capitalist and materialist world of ours, the coronavirus pandemic has a lesson to teach all of us.
Once upon a time, we only saw ourselves; but nobody. Humankind has got to value things than their neighbors and fellows. We disregarded those in pain and in need.
We turned to our assets; long or round accounts in banks and said to ourselves, well done! We didn’t care for neighbors, friends, and humanity as much as we should. The two little letters, “hi” was sometimes impossible to tell someone, not alone “I love you!” Arrogance and egoism led the order of the day!
We were sometimes violent and said to ourselves that we were sophisticated. We were carefree for the little-known people. On narrow paths, we passed our neighbors on long walks; some of them in anguish, but we shut them down and said they were crazy and poor.
We didn’t know the four little words, ‘please, excuse, sorry and thanks!’ We just didn’t care. We failed to spare the slightest time to see the brutal world others faced daily. We spoke and thought so highly of ourselves. We trashed our neighbors down. Our neighbors are not only those in our immediate neighborhoods with us. Neighbors are those we see and hear about even in the faraway land.
Whether justly or unfairly, we kept adding on our wealth and material possessions. We failed to share, or allow those who don’t have to take even the crumbs. Yet, we heard their cries. We were selfish! We were arrogant! We were unapologetic! We felt sophisticated!
We took a voyage to fabulous and exciting destinations. We relaxed and had a great time! Yes, that’s life, have it! But we also sometimes reign ‘hell’ to those who serve us so diligently. We sometimes took advantage of others – mainly the poor.
We slammed people running away from violent hunger, civil war, climate change, and persecution. We failed to lend a helping hand to the homeless and refugees. We said they had come to change the beautiful and traditional face of our towns. We only saw life in the attach of materialisms.
We put our trust in groundbreaking technologies and doubted the indelible reality of God. But in the name of religion, we heated, fought, slandered, and beheaded each other.
We didn’t one day go out of our comfort zones to see what life looks like for others. We only saw evils when we witnessed other people struggled and suffered to make ends meet. We sometimes thought they were annoying. We were the good guys and they were the bad ones.
Moral lesson for humanity
Here, coronavirus has taught all of us a lesson. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, man or woman; we all have got a lesson to learn. The Prophet in the good old book, alerts and reinforces that vanity upon vanity is only vanity (Bible Hub, n. d).
Today, I see the engines of wealth locked and parked, as the earth listens in stillness. Industrious cities and machineries are left unattended. Everyone is stationed quietly at home. Even with the stay at home, the homes are still unbearable. Banks are closed as monies have no use in some places. Magnificent and multi-million dollars Church buildings, Cathedrals, Mosques, Museums, presidential palaces turn ghost dwellings. Populous destinations that once embraced hundreds of thousands daily are all shut down.
Superhighways, interstates, streets, boiling spots are all empty. Market places are closed. Glamorous cities and towns are all low. Beauties and fames have all given way. Our iconic technologies have filed us to some extent. The jobs we once took so prestigious and expensive than family, friends, and neighbors are all gone. Economics is broken down. Silence has befallen everywhere: offices, schoolhouses, bars, restaurants, arenas, and the likes.
Life, culture, and people across the world have been afflicted with extraordinary magnitude by the coronavirus. So, coronavirus has harshly tested the shared values of humanity. Coronavirus reminds all of us that despite our skins’ colors, language and belief, status, influence; we are all interconnected because we are all God’s children! Coronavirus says to all of us that no matter our social status, we are all just the same; nothing so extraordinary.
Coronavirus says to all of us that we are all breakable, only God can sustain us! Coronavirus sends a clear message that there is no true border that lies between nations because this is God’s world!
At the same time, coronavirus says to all of us that we own nothing in this world; God owns everything, but we are only stewards for a while. Coronavirus pandemic reminds all of us; be it the most powerful, rich and poor alike, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Kings, and Queens that they [we] are not mighty, only God is supreme.
Coronavirus teaches all of us that today is, but will soon be history and life will never be the same again! Conventional and celebrated cultures have been altered and the new normal has sailed on.
Therefore, now and tomorrow, let us value humanity and better relationships every day. Let us embrace our neighbors and appreciate the very little thing we once took for granted. Least spend time accumulating capitals and resources to our selfish individual constituents. For they are incorporeal and meaningless. Let’s shield ourselves with love and humility.
Let’s make the world a better place
In order to make the world a better place for all of humanity, we must stand tall in loving and caring for each other. Peaceful coexistence is only achievable if we respect others’ cultures and come with ready hands and minds to embrace each other.
The truth of the matter is, we will always have nothing to lose if we love and care for each other, but we will always hurt humanity and God’s purpose for creation if we hate our neighbors.
Even in our comfort times, let us not be carried away that there is no problem out there. There may be thousands if not million facing misfortunes. Let us keep positive energy, thoughts, and prayers for there are those who are battling the enormous crises.
While we may be sleeping, others may not have the opportunity to sleep because of the pain they endure. While we may have an abundance of food and never understand what it is to be hungry, others may be struggling to earn the crumbs from someone else’s dinner table just to survive. While we may not be satisfied with our current monthly or annual income, there are others who may work for their entire lifetime and never get the opportunity to earn that. We may not be happy with our jobs, but there are far more qualified individuals out there who don’t have the chance to occupy it.
Day-by-day, there are others who face horrendous reality. As we make decisions, others just want to be listened to and be heard. As we drive or fly, there are some who only pray for strength to crawl or walk. Some may live in mansions, but others just want to have that shanty, makeshift shacks to rest their heads from the rain and sun. While some people may not realize how fervently delightful daylight is, others only seek to have the slightest light of day.
A moral lesson humanity must learn from the coronavirus is that we must love one another to make our world a better place.
Life is about service to humanity. Our world will only be a better place for all of us if we show love and care for each other. Only love for each other, compassion, generosity, empathy, and good human relations can make our world a better place. We should all be guilty if we leave a world behind us that is full of detestation and intolerability.
Let’s reach out and hug our neighbors, give a smile, be compassionate and forgiving, show some love again, and let’s make our world works for all of us. If this happens, we will all be at peace. The world is only at peace when the human populations who are stewards of the world are at peace.
Bible Hub. Bible KJV Ecclesiastics 1:2. https://biblehub.com/kjv/ecclesiastes/1.htm, Accessed on 15 July 2020
The coronavirus effects on global economic sentiment May 21, survey. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-coronavirus-effect-on-global-economic-sentiment#, Accessed on 15 July 2020
U-report News: OPINION: Peace is not the absence of war. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/ureport/article/2001337053/opinion-peace-is-not-the-absence-of-war, Accessed on 14 July 2020
WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. https://covid19.who.int/?gclid=CjwKCAjw57b3BRBlEiwA1ImytpuQbt4C3Ayov1OT2FI3IiWB5aOfVmq5s-MnApWrBGEbsUUsD4DPuxoCxPEQAvD_BwE, Accessed on 15 July 2020
Jerry Locula hails from the West African State of Liberia. He is a peace, human rights and social justice activist, and former Human Rights Officer of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. His nearly six years of work in South Sudan was primarily monitoring and documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity and advocating for the rule of law. Jerry’s technical expertise assisted South Sudan Central Equatoria State’s Assembly to enact “Girl Child Education Art” consequently guaranteeing the rights of girls to education in that country. While in South Sudan, he helped fostered grassroot peace initiative between fighting forces and saw the return of peace in Yei River State. Back in his home country, Liberia, Jerry worked with the Independent National Commission on Human Rights as Director for the Department of Complaints Investigation and Monitoring where he spearheaded major investigations and reported on high profile cases of human rights violations in the country. He also worked with the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Programme of the Lutheran Church in Liberia as Human Rights and Governance Officer at which time he conducted training in conflict resolution and human rights for crossed sessions of the populations including law enforcement personnel, traditional and community leaders. He led efforts in settling major land disputes between towns and villages in Liberia that resulted in peaceful coexistence. In 2005 and 2011 presidential and general elections in Liberia, Jerry traveled all over the country teaching citizens; especially women and young people about not only their rights to vote, but the power of their votes. Currently, Jerry is Founder and CEO of the Locula Foundation; a nonprofit organization he has set up to promote social justice, human rights and empower communities in Liberia. Jerry holds Master’s in International Law and Human Rights from the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org