It may have never occurred before that everyone in our life, no matter which part of the world they live in, is being tested by the same situation at the same time. This opens a window for us to see them in a new light and understand people from how they respond to Covid-19 since it hit India and the world like a storm in 2020. People who we thought we knew very well started doing things that didn’t make sense anymore and we couldn’t help but wonder, how did I even think I know this person?
The wise are those who keep track of the news and take proper precautions as much as possible.
I have seen three kinds of people since the outbreak and lockdown; the first category (I call them Wise) has alert people, well informed, responsible, concerned, and most of all, act on that knowledge be it in terms of wearing a mask, social distancing or prioritizing their activities outside the four walls of their homes. Others call them by different names; paranoid (they wash milk packs, iron newspapers, shower on returning home, sanitize doorknobs, spend time and money in buying the best masks), hoarders (because they keep stock of all essential items at home in preparation of a lockdown, scarcity of commodities or in case someone falls sick), texters (all the information-laden messages and WhatsApp forwards come from them) and a downright coward for fearing sickness and death.
These people are good for themselves, their families, and even their communities but sadly, only very few people make up this group. They are now turning frustrated and helpless. They are unable to convert anyone and lonely because people are avoiding them to escape depressing news. The Wise cannot be completely safe even with all the efforts they make because being responsible personally does not ensure they will not get infected; an accident is not necessarily the fault of the one who gets injured in the mishap.
The second group (I call them Popular) is made up of individuals who are in denial about Covid-19 and its fatal effect on the population even after one year of the first-person experience, their focus is limited to geopolitics and conspiracy theories involving other countries, they believe the pandemic is nothing but a scam that’s designed by authorities in collaboration with pharmacological companies and vaccine manufacturers. They are the ones who will advocate against wearing masks, social distancing, testing, and now vaccination because their understanding of the problem is not the virus but (a) human(s).
Popular arguments like, “We cannot stop living because of the pandemic”, has managed to sway the mass in their favor as opposed to the Wise. The hallmark of this group is a strange calm not aligned with the current situation in the world, living their life without any modifications whatsoever, lack of preparedness and interest and above all this, they are surprisingly very persuasive in changing other’s attitude on Covid-19 towards theirs and even succeed.
The third group (Divine) could have easily been a part of the Wise if not for their spiritual belief that the pandemic is a test of people’s spiritual strength, a sign of the “last days” and more than masks, sanitisers, and social distancing we need faith in the Almighty to survive the pandemic. So, this group comes across as Popular in terms of outward manifestations of lack of preparedness for Covid-19.
We will never know which category of individuals will bear the maximum casualty and mortality because the monitoring is not taking into account personality traits and attitudes towards the pandemic but since the pandemic is a living experience and we are all significant partakers of this historical event, I am certain all of us have personal experiences with people described in this article. Some informed us, some confused us, some made us rebellious, some made us lax, and then others reminded us of the spiritual void in our lives.
The author is a print and web journalist and columnist and recipient of the Youth Ki Awaaz Awards 2019 held in New Delhi (Best Article in Environment).
All images used in this piece are for representational purposes only.