The world has been shrouded with COVID-19 since January 2020 and all that human beings have so far as defences are merely three things: social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands frequently.
None of these are welcome. Washing hands is not always the healthiest thing to do. The skin is adversely affected. Masks can scar your face and at times it is also more of a source of impurities than protection from germs. Nevertheless, it is possible to live with masks just as we have become accustomed to uncomfortable but tolerated underwear. I am more concerned in fact, about social distancing. We humans have always been socializing for our well being and here comes a reversal of things in the name of social distancing.
To begin with, physical distancing is not an option at home. We are a family and the family is tied together with hugs and kisses. The little ones often need reassurance with a pat or a hug in place of words. The babies would never learn anything with the use of adult vocabulary unless speech is accompanied by affectionate gestures. In a family, distancing is in fact lethal, maddening. Such familial gestures extend to friends and relatives too. Cold, distant salutes are put aside only for stage performers. Dining together is a common ritual for adding charm to our family ties. Whoever thought of enforcing distance even in times of a pandemic!
Physical distancing is the direct opposite of energy saving when it comes to travel. So far, the world has been devising various means of saving fuel, the non-renewable resources of the earth, by electric sub-ways, car pooling, economy travel by air and e-rickshaws. But the dictates of Coronavirus are just towards the reversal of these measures. Either you stay at home, self-isolate and work alone or you go out in your own vehicle alone. No pilling on two-wheelers is a dictum that overrides the consideration that many homes do not own cars. Its direct impact would be on the women who depended on their husbands to take them out. None of the centres of shopping had ever envisaged a day when visits by customers would be discouraged. E-commerce was tottering precisely because it did not present the accompanied joy of loitering around, picking a snack on the move. No workplace is worth looking forward to unless it is to meet and greet colleagues. The fear in the eyes, the cold Namaste and the I-mean-business type of communication are going to act adversely on people’s nerves. The option of staying home, more available to children and home-makers, is probably the least desirable and definitely the most detrimental to physical wellbeing.
Physical distancing is also not practicable in team work. Most of the construction business is a matter of relay playing. You pass me the tool and I pass it on to a higher level. Most of the manufacturing business is also based on relay playing. You pass me the first raw material and I work on it. It would be ludicrous to expect sanitization each time the product of one unit is passed on to the next.
If the newspapers are full of incidents of flaunting physical distancing among workers, customers and religious gatherings, there is nothing to be surprised about it. Human beings live by group binding. No one can survive the harsh environment and the fierce beasts without bonding with each other. To think of another human being as virulent is equal to deception. We are keen to express love and cooperation rather than distrust. We always extend our hand towards a fellow for support. It is just not possible to look at another man, though personally unknown, as harmful. We aren’t anything but humankind.
The Coronavirus has been a great lesson in humanity. It has taught us our place on earth. It has revived our confidence in working together; social distancing is in all likelihood only a passing phase.