It’s fascinating to see thinking from all over the world and how the pandemic is affecting our moral and physical status.
Here’s an essay by an Egyptian who stood alongside his country’s president as he launched a war in 1973. Gohar was then a young cameraman and went on to become the main television conduit through which the world saw the dramatic changes in Egypt by Anwar Sadat from 1977 to 1981, when the Egyptian president was assassinated.
He’s been living with a Latin American tribe for the last few years… so has changed many of his life patterns.
Mohamed Gohar very rarely writes, but this these are his reflections now.
With my camera in hand, I’ve covered the most viciously destructive fourteen wars, yet I haven’t seen anything in them that compares to the fighting I see now in the world. Our enemy hides death in layers of its kisses. It conceals itself like a snake in the grass, rattling and startling history to stop in its path.
Everyone is targeted. After people become separated and isolated, the enemy showers them with drops of pain and loss of the ones we love. The aggression of the storm is destroying the years of culture we have harvested. Sports, arts, social gatherings and more are no longer.
In its first battle, the enemy conquered globalization and opened the door to death, assassinating elements of the lifestyle that we had chosen.
Dear virus, I come bearing news. A single heartbeat radiating from a loving human can easily destroy and kill you, on the condition that this heart carries an overwhelming desire to win, and refuses to lose hope.
Every battle must come to an end, but for now we must put in place the plans that will implement peace in the future. The first of these plans is Faith. A loving heart has to know that victory is not a choice, it is essential, and the one to bring the victory must be you, must be us.
Soldiers in white, the scientists leading us, are the ones to have faith in, and not the words of somebody else, not even governments that isolated themselves with extreme uses of authority, while disregarding community in their scramble.
The enemy is active in the polluted air, which we created ourselves. The first steps of our march towards healing must be taken to clean the air around us. Look at yourself. Look at how you withdraw from your own land, leaving it clear for the enemy’s overtaking.
Look how the whole planet is suffering over our consumer needs. The virus is not new; it has existed for thousands of years. What has changed is its ability to overpower us. By us not respecting the ecological and natural forces of the world, we create an instability that grows the strength of the virus and its ability to kill us. Look and see how to improve the pollution in the air around you. Imagine an environment where you substitute your car for a walk or a bike ride.
Picture how much more greenery we’d surround ourselves with if each one of us planted a tree, or even a flower in the window. When I was younger, we’d sew together bags to bring to the market, that we entrust to carryout our daily chores with. Why not bring back these sorts of practices, and leave plastic bags in the past?
No act of cleansing resistance is too small. We must stop instilling values that favor expanding our hyper consumerist-focused economy at the expense of our individual and planet’s wellbeing, asking us to sacrifice personal happiness for capital gain.
The enemy forces us into isolation. A few days ago, a friend of mine wrote to me that the most painful experience of her life was when her grandchildren were stopped from hugging her. Some of us are called out to and told to not approach our loved ones, especially when they get sick.
They even ask some not to bury them after they die, in fear of getting too close to a body they believe to be contagious. In the battlefield, when a soldier falls down, his colleagues accept nothing but to carry his body, no matter how high the flames, or how much shellings pierce the air around them. Though temporarily social distancing is beneficial, the separation of the human spirit is not the answer. Why do we continue instilling concepts such as race as a force that divides us?
This one is rich, and that one is poor, this one is young and that one is elderly, here is a Muslim and there is a Jew. He eats what we don’t eat, and we do what he doesn’t do.
We keep living a false social life, judging one another instead of caring for each other. Meanwhile, the enemy aligns us all on the same line, not differentiating on whom it will target next time. The enemy keeps the distance between death and us all the same, assuming that we always fear death, regardless of the social categories defining us.
How much can we fear death before we no longer carry the real power in our souls? This immortal power is carried in a temporary vessel, the body, a structure collapsing from the moment of its birth that can cry high just from a mosquito bite.
How much fear is required until it takes from humans all their will and capabilities, locking them between four walls, leaving them with nothing? The enemy paved the road for death so that when death begins to walk, there is no one in its way.
But let me remind you, that faith is stronger than death. Accepting death is much more honorable than releasing your faith and giving yourself to the evils caused by the sickness. Victory relies on our capacity to train ourselves and know how to properly use our weapons.
This time, our weapons are hope and patience, which we must reassemble. Everybody is in a hurry to return to their old way of life, everyone wonders when we will return to how it was before. But we must admit that we cannot return to what was before, as it is what led us to where we are now. Would it not be a better idea to make the compromises we need that will create a better future for us?
There are too many other weapons we misuse, which if used correctly, would be able to force the enemy to withdraw. Weapons such as unity, friendship, community, knowledge, music and love to the people widespread, regardless of socially instilled divisions.
Some voices we’ve been hearing today have not been telling us the truth, and have stopped us from enjoying the sunrays. It is up to us to stand up and say ‘Thank you, but I don’t want to go backwards to how it was before’. It is undeniable that each and every one of us is part of nature, and therefore part of its ecosystem. When given the opportunity to sit down under the nurturing shade of a tree on a clear day, you realize it is much better than owning and running the whole farm.
In this, we must realize that the greed rooting itself in extreme consumerism needs to be expelled, and we must focus on what we need instead of what we want. Ecosystems would flourish if each of us took the time to realign our consumer needs so that it does not disrupt nature, which would also take down our entire system with her if she collapses seeing as we rely on her resources. The tragedy here is that to find our enemy, we must look in a mirror.
The disease manifests itself in our consumerist nature, making our insatiable wanting the root of destruction. The tunnel is long, and when we reach the end, our goal is to celebrate life and find love. Love yourself and love the beauty you see around you, the beauty of our planet, which breathes and lets us breathe with her.
The challenge before us is huge. We have to discover new capabilities, agree to disagree, and choose our path wisely so that we may break our enemy’s narcissism and conquer him.