Pandemics, Climate Crisis and the Challenges Beyond

A famous American author, Zora Neale Hurston once said, “There are years that ask question and years that answer.”

In the past two years, the world went through an unprecedented pandemic crisis with momentous challenges. With all its variants, and in a series of waves, a tiny virus hit our human race so hard, so fast that we stumbled to our feet again and again while trying to catch the pace.

Many countries responded vigilantly by imposing lockdowns, banning travel and social events while the others lost lives, resources, and finances fighting the crises. Some countries postponed the elections while some elected their leaders based on the best strategy to cope with the pandemic and some protested against those who lost the game. Prioritizing health on peace, Intergovernmental organizations seemed to be fighting the health crisis rather than preventing wars and differences among the countries.

While many industries were shut worldwide, everything online boomed with emphasis on online classes, workspaces, marketplaces, streaming, gaming, etc. Ignoring the privacy issues like vulnerability and emotional exposure on social media, a new idea of “Metaverse” emerged which further complicated the separation of two different realities. Moreover, the use of Artificial Intelligence moved a step further with automatic cars, delivery drones, and lots of fancy robots for daily households.

Eventually rich became richer and the poor became poorer and those who had the chance headed for space adding more to the insecurities that with all the climate, health, and hunger crises earth was becoming hard to live.  All in all, the pandemic has shaped the world in a new way by highlighting a series of new paradoxes and underlining the lines that our societies were trying to blur.

So, no doubt, the previous two years were the years we had to ask a question. And, the only question we all found ourselves asking was that, as a humanity, are we prepared to address and resolve the new chain of humanitarian and global crises?

This year might be the one with an answer. Although vaccines have been introduced and the situation is getting a little bit under control, we still have a lot of stuff to resolve. It’s time that we stop relying on old temporary ways of dealing with problems like forming social agreements or passing laws and do something different because, the challenges are new, so should be the solutions.

Unlike wars, hunger, or education crises, pandemics and climate crises are far more complex. They do not require individual efforts as a citizen or a nation but rather a collective effort as humankind. As Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” argues, we would have to put our short-term self-interest against the common good in the long term.

For the said purpose, emphasis on emotional progression as much as intellectual progression is important to prepare everyone to serve the planet. The inclusion of emotional intelligence as a discipline into the education system of our new generations can teach them their global responsibilities along with individual and social responsibilities. They must be taught that ethics, morality, and kindness doesn’t only revolve around humans anymore, rather it incorporates all the inhabitants of this planet including the efficient and effective use of the resources.

The thing is, no matter how challenging the problems are, we, as humans have the remarkable potential to solve our problems and we can continue to do so if we teach our new generation to save our collective selves from our own individual impulses. Because, there is no law, no agreement, no authority or institution that can make people responsible towards anything, the way their conscious does.

In the Pursuit of Greatness

I have often been asked that what makes a person, great? Although there are many ways to be great at something like excelling in a career, skill, or sport, fulfilling a purpose, a goal, or a mission, I believe that most of the time, one doesn’t choose to be great, greatness chooses you instead. 

As Fyodor Dostoevsky beautifully puts it, “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”

The truth is, a dysfunctional life breeds greatness in people and the most promising are the ones who are wounded. But, it’s not the intensity of the wound that sets them apart, it’s their ability to communicate it. They tell better stories, not to us but to themselves. Stories of what they have been through and what they came out to be. 

To compensate for what was lost in the tragedy, their brain adopts a special narrative to do what other brains do naturally. This extraordinary narrative seeds a continuous desire of pulling their selves out of themselves towards what they need to learn to become whole, which later on grows into a passion. In short, they don’t choose their greatness any more than they can choose their passion and they can’t choose their passion any more than they can really choose their wounds. 

With all the wounds, it’s too painful for them to survive in the world that rejects them. So, they create a parallel world to escape and sometimes become so good at it that they can infuse it into the real one, finally changing the whole world. These are the ones we call visionaries, who can move between worlds and states of consciousness. What grants them such an immense ability to travel between worlds? 

I would say that they are magicians. They manipulate their victimization positively to themselves and others. You see, when a person has to sacrifice himself or his belongings for God’s will, he becomes a victim of that incident. So, a victim is someone who’s been to another world (such as a tragedy) and back and has stories to tell and it’s those stories that bridge one world to the other world. One story put out into the world joins others creating a learning community. After all, what stories are but deliberate vehicles for wisdom, if they are heard over and over again.

This wisdom grants them the ability to master their past, not through dominance but learning things about it just right down to the bones, to a point where they are fingertip close to manipulate that source code. Once they have changed that, it changes everything like magic. 

So, all I would tell you is to be kind to your inner freak and reach out to those dark wounded places in you that hold your source of guilt, anger, and shame. Whenever you are most vulnerable and broken down and most open to that inner freak, talk to him. Listen to his story and find out how to tell it. Maybe through painting, writing, or through creating anything, even starting a company. Write it and throw it onto the communal fire and let it burn so brightly that everyone rushes to see it.  

Yes, there will be times of failure and despair, when you will be lonely wondering what the hell you’re doing but that’s okay because that’s just how the story goes. So, tell it and tell it again and again because we all are made up of stories and scars and our scars are our stories. 

After all, as the great Dostoevsky says, “But how could you live and have no story to tell?”

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