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Covid-19 has taught us a lesson we should never forget

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How we have despoiled the earth mercilessly and ruthlessly, defying all attempts to curb our maniacal greed, Veloo Saminathan writes. 

With the lockdown confining most people to home or curbing their movements drastically, the problem of what is one to do has become the immediate and most pressing issue among families everywhere, whether urban or rural. 

The urban sector, now dominated by high-rise flats and condominiums, is as intimidating as rustic areas, despite the vast expanse of natural, even idyllic surroundings in rural areas.

What causes the feeling of suffocation everywhere? It is without doubt the enforced idleness and boredom, even though it may provide an excellent opportunity to bond with loved ones. It is the feeling of being confined to the same space with the same people, day in day out. It is the sense of being stuck in a routine, deadening in its effects, that sparks anxiety and distress. 

Throw in the financial problems resulting from layoffs, and the anxiety and distress can lead to desperation. In this sense, the invisible microbe, which the coronavirus is claimed to be, holds thousands in its thrall.

Is nature, “more sinned against than sinning” (to quote the great bard), wreaking vengeance on (quoting the great bard again) “man, proud man, dressed in a brief little authority”? 

How we have despoiled the earth – the only planet we can call home – mercilessly and ruthlessly, defying all attempts to curb our maniacal greed for material wealth and power! 

We have polluted – perhaps beyond recovery – the earth, the skies, the seas and the oceans. The environment, which has so bountifully sustained human beings all through the ages, has become toxic, leaving us breathless in our cities and rural settlements.

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So encompassing has been nature’s revenge through Covid-19 that the lockdown imposed upon entire populations in so many countries has rendered the skies blue again and the rivers, seas and oceans cleaner – to such an extent that they are now brimming with many life forms previously on the verge of extinction.

In India, one of the most polluted countries in the world, people have seen wild animals venturing into cities and towns fearlessly. Those living in the plains in pollution-bound northern India are now able to see, for the first time in a generation, the mesmerising beauty of the snow-capped Himalayas from more than a 100 miles away.

Covid-19, in this sense, has taught “man, proud man, dressed in a brief little authority” a lesson we should never forget: we must honour and respect nature and restore it to its former beauty and bountiful state.

Veloo Saminathan is a former senior civil servant

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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31 May 2020 5.15am

However, when COVID-19 eventually goes away and life returns to normal, capitalism will revert to its old greedy, degrading and destructive ways again.

Benedict Lopez
30 May 2020 7.46pm

Interesting observations Veloo.

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