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Nature and existence are the only realities. Everything else is just a belief system – a conjuring of the human mind. These are stories that we need to create in our quest to maintain order in society. These systems and beliefs vie for importance in our lives depending on the state of existence. Large numbers of people believing in a story makes it an imagined reality namely, money, corporations, governments, human rights, organised religion – in fact anything that catches our fancy.

Economics tends to rule our lives in times of relative stability but survival has clearly trumped economy as the current coronavirus pandemic has proved beyond any doubt. Every edifice that is built by human imagination can crumble like a cookie when existence is in danger. Super-powers, corporations, financial systems, education systems and even governments have been brought to their knees against this virus onslaught. While governments may eventually pat themselves on the back for surviving the pandemic (and some governments have indeed done well), it will be wise to remember that if humanity does not wake up to this call, the next unknown disaster could be just around the corner.

The track record of human behaviour has been shameful. We have trivialised existence in every manner possible to satisfy our greed. We have plundered and raped Nature for our own narrow ends. As a result, rivers are dying, forests are dwindling, ice caps are melting, natural resources are being over-exploited – we are even playing with genetics and intelligence to degrees which we cannot handle. Today it is a virus which is certainly the result of human excesses – tomorrow it could be another accident of human greed or quest for power over others that may have grave and unintended consequences for the human race. Artificial intelligence, biotech and bio-informatics, have disastrous potential, according to Yuval Noah Harari, the historian and celebrated author of Sapiens and Homo Deus. The world will survive the next disaster, have no doubt. We may perish.

We must therefore stop trivialising existence. It is the only thing that matters to us humans. Of what use are economies, governments, corporations, education systems and other creations of the human mind if our species itself is gravely endangered. The callousness with which some of us continue to treat the current coronavirus pandemic disrespects existence and every other effort that is being made to check its spread. Despite huge challenges, India is taking every conceivable measure to restore normalcy (though a tad late perhaps), public behaviour will be the final determinant of success in the fight.

The larger lesson is this. It is time the rich and powerful nations, governments, corporations and humankind in general undertake all future endeavours of the human spirit in harmony with Nature. Only then do we stand a chance to ensure our continued existence on this planet.

24 Mar 2020

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