Talented thirty-four-year-old Hindi film actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, killed himself yesterday. Despair, it is said.
Beautiful, talented Bollywood star, Madhuri Dixit, sang a stirring song. Have hope, have hope, she said.
THANK YOU, MADHURI
What kind of hope and what kind of despair do we see around us?
Among my own family and friends circle, someone diagnosed with terminal cancer was turned away from hospitals because cancer is now second runner-up to COVID-19 as the Emperor of Maladies
A dear family member in India cannot pay for critical medication for chronic illness because the pandemic took her small business and turned it to dust
What kind of civilization is COVID-19 making us? What kind of people must we become? What kind of nations need we be?
When COVID-19 started spreading I noticed something I then jokingly called COVID NATIONALISM. Many people, identifying with a certain nation-state, were declaiming the virtues and values of their national customs, demographics, politicians and community spirit. As already happening at every crisis, Jingoistic Nationalism and Xenophobia were shaking bloodied hands over mass slaughter.
Someone wrote on a whatsapp group board I was then a member of that because “We, Indians” — they meant Hindus — have always been such “pure” people, washing their hands frequently, rinsing their mouths after meals, washing their feet after returning home from the ‘tainted’ outside, and observing myriad other taboos about purity and danger mostly involving denigrating and demonizing “Other People,” “We, Indians” would triumph over other countries and people that didn’t rinse, sprinkle, douse, purify and yes, of course, burn enough. Another member chimed in: vegetarians and those with other HIndutva-related food habits would survive COVID-19 while “Other People” would die.
I’ve left that group.
But what I don’t leave off is that we will only defeat COVID-19 if, among other things, we leave off COVID NATIONALISM. I know the tolls by countries have well-justified epidemiological purposes.But in these days of such despair, and yet such hope, we must learn to find in our hearts a new LOVE for those we’ve always been taught to hate and fear.
WE need to stop feeling secret relief because “We” are not “Them,” “Those people.” WE need to stop feeling secure and smug because we are not like “ethnic” people who hug and laugh and cry more, and live closer together in their habitats. WE need to stop shrugging off the news that mostly “those old people” or “those sick people” are dying. WE need to stop even secretly congratulating ourselves for not being poor, black, of color, Muslim, minority, sick, LGBTQ, old or dying.
WE need to look for the love we must find to empathize with the stranger we have been taught to hate and fear.
We need to be ANTINA: COVID ANTI-NATIONALISTS.
Pandemic doesn’t know national borders. VIRUS could care less about VIRTUE. Love, ALL