Is the 2m gap in shopping lines a selfish action – protecting oneself from catching this unfathomable disease, or a selfless action – preventing spread of this modern plague? There is no person, in the nearly 8 billion of us, who isn’t affected in these war-like times, consumed by this battle against COVID-19. But this battle has unearthed our true instincts, which have been supressed since early 20th century. 

As our prime minister very explicitly stated, it is a mix of both, and everyone lies on this selfish- selfless spectrum. While the damages of this virus are not to be forgotten, the virus acts as a selection pressure on all forms of our life. It acts as a recession, improving the economy but allowing only the most efficient businesses to progress. It acts as a force uniting and splitting society, making families and households with good social links live more comfortably. It acts a suppressant on criminal and terrorist activity. It unites opposing parties to work to the best of their abilities to save their countries. 

And it returns the earth to nature. Skies over Beijing cleared, dolphins arrived in Sardinia, birds come chirruping into the trees and swallows relish the reduced air-traffic. Nature returned very quickly as soon as humans scurried away into their safe havens. A (final?) chance for non-human organisms to enjoy their planet too. Perhaps it is nature’s warning or nature’s revenge, its efforts to restore normality, whatever normality is.

There have been many apocalyptic, dystopian books, movies and shows involving a killer ‘serum’ or ‘bacteriophage’ that has the capability to devastate entire civilisation. But many of these shows (providing escapism) have dodged the lurking question: what if this really happens? Humanity is freaking out, since no pandemic such as this has proliferated to an extent within our lifetimes, however, humanity had been well warned. Ebola was a gentle reminder not to forget the power of nature, historians understood the effects of the Spanish flu, scientists repeatedly warned against antibiotic use. Perhaps this is just gentle nudge from mother nature to stop us straying away. 

Perhaps instead of critiquing our current actions, we should evaluate our past actions and see how we germinated this situation very early on. Perhaps this is a biblical plague. Perhaps this virus is a honest mirror.

Nonetheless, regardless of whether it is selfish motives or selfless thoughts, change is happening, and it is positive. 


Divy Dayal, Wilson’s School