OPINION|What a Wonderful World!

I’m being facetious. It is quite far from being any version of wonderful, cohesive or civilised. As the Novel Corona traipses through our towns and cities like a merciless diabolist, we as humankind, as a planet, could not be rent more asunder.

How did we get here? When did all the values of humankind that stirred the heroic tales of yore become so tenebrous, so archaic? How did we become so divided, so intolerant, so extreme? How, despite belonging to the same species, did we become so “different”? And how did those contrived differences take on such a toxic, pestiferous life of their own?

We, as human beings, have been teetering on the edge of our humanity for some time now. The constant slide towards the precipice of retrogression has been insulated only by the crowdedness of our lives and the increasing obscureness of what we are, at our very core, as civilised beings. Indeed, we have, for quite some time now, been navigating the waters of life with a broken moral compass.

The stark wretchedness of our complete inability to come together as a global collective with a common objective has been grimly parodied by the current pandemic. It has laid bare that which was barely concealed: the self-defeating, meteoric rise in national isolationism and exclusionary economics. It has highlighted the dangerous precedent set by the Post-Trump “America/ My Country First” mantra, while any similitude of a global community ideology/ platform has become a mere spectre in the darkness of the 2020 world stage.

If one steps back to look at where we are after 200,000 years of evolvement, even the most practical and jaded amongst us would cringe at what we bring to the Evolutionary Table. The Novel Corona has struck at the very core of our collective societal and sovereign ethics, morality and probity, exposing them for the tarnished chattels they have become. It has, however, also afforded us the opportunity to visualise the propitious crossroads we are at, as a species.

“The Anthropocentric Age – the first age in which humankind is the dominant species on the planet – cuts both ways: it is up to us to destroy or save the planet. We certainly have the ability”, said Craig Ventor. Can we then, overcome our disparate, divided egos and concertedly embark on an intrepid new philosophy for A Brave New World? Or are we going to wait for that epochally-inevitable “Alien/ Divine” intervention to then put us on the straight and narrow?

In the words of Issac Asimov: “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be”.

Right now, viewed from a cosmic lens, Earth appears to be blunderous, sick and unkind. That is not the legacy we want to leave to the universe.

De Khudai pe aman.

PANDEMIC 2020|The Corona Theatre – the Muses weigh in

We have indeed entered the Age of the Mighty Microbes as the days go by and mankind continues to buckle at the knees in the face of the latest onslaught. Welcome to 01AC – Year 1, Anno Coroni

Despite the obvious ravages wrought by the bacillus, one can’t help but take an existential view of the situation. Twenty first century Political ideologues, Economic powerhouses and Moral custodians all continue to be similarly baffled and besieged by the all-embracing, unrelenting sweep of the “invisible enemy” – some would say a Diviner, a harbinger of things to come.

In the midst of this unprecedented assailment, Melpomene and Thalia* have managed to do a few merry dances together choreographed by Dionysus** himself, as we continue to see blitzes of comedy, madness, revelry and of course, kindness and triumph in the advancing milieu.

The Comedy and the Madness: personified so aptly by our very own planetary resident uno – the 45th president of the US of A. His initially altogether bewildered, butted-in-the-stomach look has very rapidly evolved to his signature winging-it-with-the-confidence-of-a-rocket/ (microbiology!)-scientist avatar. This time though, the usual spin doctoring is very hard to believe even if one is a Die-Hard Trump supporter. Because when all’s said and done, there is a difference in dying hard literally, especially with the Corona at the helm of the transition from figurative to literal. Entertaining and cringe-worthy simultaneously are the expressions of the medical professionals of the American Coronavirus Task Force while Trump oscillates between making comically absurd statements (the “Chinese virus”/ we are hours away from a vaccine) to downright obnoxious ones (slamming a journalist who asked for his response/ reassurance for the troubled American populace at large). Other charming inclusions here are the Brazilian president who thought congenially rubbing shoulders with Senhor Corona was a political tour de force; and the Sri Lankan politico who was convinced that his act of taking off his own well-worn mask and putting it around the face of another was the ultimate apex of on-point political savviness.

Act 1, Scene 1Thalia and Melpomene are hamming a demented fox trot all over the summer harvest; the picture is both jocose and psychotic.

The Revelry: with the younger denominator around the globe and the fogyish in places where it is “UnBritish” to enforce controls of any kind, there has been an almost unhinged disregard for the calamitous prophecy embedded in the Corona DNA. Pubs, clubs and beaches have continued to be thronged by the Corona cynics; because communal drinking and socialising traditions that have prevailed even through the extreme exigences of WW2 can hardly be sidelined by the scare tactics of a (Boris) Johnny come lately.

Act 1- Scene 2: The Theatre twins are pantomiming a steroid-fuelled ballroom dance across the streets of the First World.

The Triumph: And then, the veni, vidi, vici moments of some nations as they adjusted for, battled and triumphed (at least for now) over the ‘C-adversary’. In an ironic twist of fate, the bulk of the nations here have been from the Asian/ developing world. The dignity, gravitas, foresightedness and pertinacity with which these nations brought their people together to ‘little by little, drive out” the enemy is unparalleled, given, in some cases, the relative vastness of their populations.

The Corona may yet turn the tables and angle the tide on the current world order. It may yet drastically change priorities and aspirations, visions and goals, neighbourliness and compassion, community and connections – the very essence of what defines us as humankind.

Act 1- Final scene: While Melpomene slumbers, Thalia sways gently to the rhythm of the swishing leaves as a fresh, new breeze blows lightly through the field.

De khudai pe aman.

*Melpomene and Thalia: the Muses of Tragedy and Comedy respectively

**Dionysus: Greek god of Theatre and other fun things! Look him up 🤓