I don’t need to introduce to you all what Coronavirus is. We are all getting through these hard times together, some countries more than others, but we are all aware of what is going on around the world through the official media as well as the internet.
An unusual situation
We are dealing with a pandemic, as stated by the World Health Organisation on March, 11th. I’m not going to talk about the virus, its characteristics and what we should do to protect ourselves. There are official sources for that and I’m sure you have been briefed about what to do by specialized people. However, one of the most important things that we have been asked to do is “social distancing to protect ourselves and protect other people around us.
As simple it is to understand, this social distancing can be very hard to do for some people. I totally understand the frustration because I am usually a very active person and I like my freedom, I love going out for walks, going to events, pajama parties with my girlfriends, etc. But today, all of this is out! I must be responsible and stay home. Okaaaay! But I’m gonna go crazy bored! What will I be doing all this time at home?
Some dead time
These thoughts came to me the first two days of lockdown. I would spend the entire day watching the news, scrolling through Facebook, reading every post I receive on WhatsApp, and watching every single video. More than 80% of that content was about the virus, about the situation in other countries, about what you should do and sometimes some fake news that just stresses you more as if you needed a little push to have a heart attack and they’re giving it to you! Wow, thanks!
I had a small cough during the first week of lockdown due to previous bronchitis, and so I would sometimes suspect that I’m a carrier of the virus, I had headaches from all the news and negativity I consumed, I felt terrible and completely helpless.
I started thinking about what would happen if one of my family members was affected, I started feeling anxious and it was affecting me heavily.
Let’s wake up now!
Then I remembered what I know, what I’ve read in several books and what I would be saying to some of my friends if they ask for advice. I remembered that what I’m feeling is a result of my thoughts, it’s the result of that low energy food that I have been giving my brain, and unless I do something about it soon, I will be drowning in that negativity and it will be much harder for me to get out of that!
And so, as a defense mechanism, I decided to change my thoughts, which will change my feelings about this thing, and will then change my actions. I decided to stop watching the news, to get away from my phone as much as possible and to spend my time working on myself, learning new things (more on that on the next post), and making progress in my spiritual and professional journey to success.
Yes, this coronavirus thingy is a serious issue, thousands of people are getting infected every single day around the world, most countries have closed their borders, the economic situation is going through some pretty hard times, etc. But, what can I do to make things a little better? Am I doing anybody any good if I’m watching the news all day long and stressing about it, getting worried about my loved ones who are far away from me? No, I’m not, nor are you.
This situation, as hard as it is, has a few lessons to teach us, don’t you think?
We are usually so cut up with our routine lives. We wake up, pray quickly (if you do), go to work, eat junk food at work, come back from work tired, do some other activity at home if we’re lucky, go to sleep, repeat! Those of us who enjoy doing their work and try to find a balance between their professional and personal lives are maybe the luckiest, but that also means that most of them are always on the run. Ok, wait a minute! This lockdown may be THE opportunity to slow down a little bit and start thinking and asking some of the hardest questions that we usually avoid, because we’re so busy, you know!
Personally, I have been quarantining for three weeks now, and this time had helped me realize a few things, that I decided to share some of them with you guys. I think what we are living now will define our future after this hardship. The question is whether it is going to change us positively by giving us the time and space necessary to work on ourselves on a spiritual and personal level so we can go back to the world and be more productive, more successful and happier than ever, or negatively by adding more stress and anxiety into our lives. This pandemic will be over but it will leave scars in our hearts and minds, and I have decided to make those scars more of lessons, so I can use them to grow and to be stronger and more prepared for the future.
Lesson 1: Gratitude
Just a month ago, we were able to go out wherever we want, hug our families and friends, breathe fresh air and go for a ride. We were able to go to work and go for lunch outside with friends, go to schools to learn new things, go to mosques and pray together or listen to the khutbat l joumoua (Friday speech). We were free birds but we rarely thanked God for what we had, we took it for granted and we thought it was a given and that we had earned it ourselves.
Today, we are afraid to step out of our houses, we are praying that our families won’t get sick, we are monitoring the numbers of cases of Coronavirus in our country and around the world, we are afraid, we are worried, and we are anxious. We have been asked to stay at home as it is the only thing we can do to stop the spread of this pandemic, and we don’t feel free anymore!
Some of us have lost their jobs, some of us are kept away from their families and spouses, some of us have lost their businesses and some of us have lost the ability to feed their families in these very hard times. Some of us are risking their lives to save other people’s lives, are working long shifts in hospitals while being worried about their kids at home. Some of us have lost family members and were denied access to see them and to go to their funerals. Some of us are still going to work so we can have access to basic services such as food, banking and so on, etc.
But still, even with these difficulties, we should be grateful to God for a lot of things. If I am at home now, I am healthy, I have food to eat and clothes to wear, then I should be grateful for what I have because it is not a given. Everything we have can disappear in a second if Allah wants, but I am blessed and so I should be grateful and I should always remember myself to practice gratitude, anytime and everywhere.
This is not an easy time to live in, and I pray Allah that this pandemic will stop soon! But it is also a divine message to all mankind, a message full of lessons to be carried out when this thing ends. The first lesson is clear to me: Always be grateful for what you have.
Lesson 2: We are weak alone, stronger with Allah
Think about it, this virus is a tiny little creature that we can’t even see unless we have some sophisticated equipment. And yet, look at the impact it had on the whole world! And look at how the biggest and strongest countries and economies in the world are crashing down right now because of it. Isn’t it a lesson?
Some people can be so arrogant that they think that nothing can ever touch them. They think they know it all and that they’ve got everything figured out because of how powerful they are, or how beautiful they are or how rich they are. But now? It doesn’t matter if you are the richest person, or the most powerful leader, or just a regular person, we are all afraid of this thing. It hit some of the biggest political leaders around the world, ministers, famous people, etc. It didn’t choose, which can be scary because it just tells you that you are weak as a human being no matter who you are in the world.
And so it made me think that we humans are really weak alone, we can’t do everything by ourselves. We need to be connected to Allah, we need a connection to the Creator, to the higher power because that is what will give us the necessary strength to go through these hardships. Because when things get ugly like what’s happening now, it’s only our souls and hearts that matter, and so the lesson is to remember that as humans, we are limited and we will always be no matter how smart we are and how big of a name we made of ourselves. But, there is a way out, we can be stronger when we are close to THE STRONGEST when we are close to God who created all of us, who created all this world and who can change ANYTHING in a second (ala koli Shayein kadir).
When we are connected with Allah, we are much more accepting of the situation, we pray while being sure that our prayer will be answered, we are stronger because we know that Allah is with us. We know that none of this would have happened if He didn’t allow it to happen, we are much more patient and less anxious. We are less afraid because we know that nothing will ever happen to us unless it is already decided by him (Lan youssibana illa makatabaho laho lana), we understand that we have the most powerful tool in our hands, which is Douaa (prayers), the only tool that can change destiny itself.
And Allah loves us, He wants us to get back to him, he wants us to be close to him and to ask him what we want, He wants us to pray to Him and He wants to answer our prayers (odeouni astajib lakom). He knows that we can forget sometimes and so he allows some wake-up calls so we can get back at him. It is an opportunity to strengthen our Iman and to strengthen our connection to our Creator.
Lesson 3: The power of education
We live in a world full of distractions, not always very good ones to be honest. Social media has made it very easy for people to be famous, and so some “stupid people” have actually become famous. But the problem is not fame itself, the problem is that these people have become role models for a lot of others especially teenagers.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some pretty great content out there on the internet, and even on entertainment, there are a lot of talented people who really deserve the success they got through social media or through the internet in general. But I’m talking about that silly unethical content that was filling our feeds on Instagram or youtube, making it to the trends list in some countries. This situation that we’re living right now reminded us of the things that really matter, the things that are worth investing in and the kind of people we need in our population and who should be valued more.
The people who are really making a difference right now are the ones we used to refer to as “nerds” or “lab rats”. Well, not all of them of course, but you get my point. It’s the investment in scientific research, the health system capacities and the educational systems that matter right now in these hard times, because they are our only hope to find a cure to this virus and to solve this problem. Researchers around the world are working non-stop to develop an antidote, while doctors and nurses are risking their lives during the long shifts they have to work in an amount of stress and pressure that they have never experienced before.
That’s not to say that other fields are not important, there are a lot of other people who are doing a great job behind the scenes right now. This time is a health crisis, it can be another crisis some other time and we should be prepared for it. The people who are going to help us get out of it may be different from the ones under the spotlight right now. However, what is certain is that we don’t need to encourage more stupid people who use the bad buzz to make money online through some shitty content and most importantly, we don’t want them to be the example to follow for our young people in pursuit of easy and quick money and fame.
Lesson 4: We still have to work more on awareness-raising
As an environmentalist, I am a strong believer in awareness-raising activities and their impacts on the way people think and act. In every single project or activity we work on, we have to carry on awareness-raising campaigns and though they are sometimes very limited and access only a small group of people, it is still worth doing, always!
By looking at all the content that is being shared on social media in my country or around the world, I saw that there is still a big gap to be filled when it comes to awareness of some issues to some people. But because the situation of this pandemic is very critical, even if only a minority is not aware enough to respect what it is being said by the government or by the WHO, the consequences can be brought to a whole nation. It’s not a situation where if somebody is willing to hurt himself then he is only hurting himself and we don’t care because we warned him, it is a situation where one wrong action from a non-responsible person can kill thousands of people. And we have seen this everywhere from getting into crowds for groceries in the supermarket to organizing events on the street to making up stories denying the presence of the virus, etc. And there is only one solution for that: education and awareness-raising. It is a time-consuming process but it is worth it.
On the other hand, we saw some brilliant people speaking and creating some pretty impressive content all over the web which makes us proud and can only confirm the power of education on the minds and the actions of those who got it.
These are some of the lessons that I have thought about so far, I may discover more until the end of this lockdown, you never know! But in the next post, I want to share with you some of the things that I have been working on during this period, share with you some links and apps to learn some specific skills, and some tips that i found to be very helpful in my spiritual journey to success. So, make sure you subscribe to this blog and stay tuned!
How about you? Have you had any reflections about this situation that you would like to share with us? Do you agree with what I said or do you think that it’s absolute nonsense? I would love to learn more about you think and to exchange about this topic to help each other in getting through these hard times stronger inchAllah.
Until then, stay blessed!