Will the Coronavirus Transform our Nature?

Just as Covid-19 suddenly appeared, it will soon disappear and leave its tragedies behind.

 

Written by: Majed Al-Arouri

Just as Covid-19 suddenly appeared, it will soon disappear and leave its tragedies behind; whomever lost a loved one will try to forget the pain of his/her separation, whomever lost his job will rush to search for a new one, and whomever lost his business will try to replace it. However, the crisis will end and the Coronavirus will be a memory that will be talked about for generations to come. It is one of the greatest catastrophes that mankind has witnessed. Nevertheless, every incident in life has an angle from which we can look from and if we look closely, we can see a new and brighter future. I hope to see some of our natures evolve after the Covid-19 crisis ends; the same natures that have already changed during the Covid-19 outbreak.  Following are some of the human natures that I would like to discuss:

  • From the inception of the Palestinian Authority until today, we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on workshops, meetings and conferences in various official, private and public sectors. Most of them were of a cultural and educational nature, but they were very expensive, especially the costs for hospitality and accommodation. It was a losing business that only wasted money, instead of conducting beneficial sessions. The Coronavirus pandemic taught us that we can hold such meetings with the participation of not only dozens, but hundreds of individuals through virtual applications. Some of these applications aren’t free, but the cost per year does not exceed twenty dollars. Those who are interested in such sessions can participate from home; workers do not have to leave their workplaces to engage in these virtual sessions. So, why does this not become one of our new natures after the Covid-19 outbreak?
  • Our marriage rituals are expensive, costing tens of thousands of Jordanian Dinars to be spent for one or two days of celebration. After the wedding ceremony, the newly created families experience financial hardship because of the wedding expenses. So, why does the wedding ceremony become inclusive to only close family and friends for one day with minimal wedding expenses, as it is now during the Covid-19 outbreak, to allow the newlyweds to begin their lives in peace without any financial hardships and away from our rituals that have destroyed us, in particularly families.
  • The rituals of death also changed, where funerals and wakes became brief. Let us devote our condolences in a simple way, through obituaries on social networking sites and eliminate the costly funeral rituals such as, cooking for the family of the deceased and distributing sweets and dates. Whomever desires can contribute the costs of these rituals, on behalf of the deceased’s soul, to save a poor family from starvation for a month or two. This is the safest and most beloved way, by God, that we can perform our funeral rituals, as we have learned through the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Some of us worked from home during the Coronavirus outbreak and achieved more than what he/she would at the office. In light of the digital media era, most of us no longer need offices to work in, landlines, or fax machines. Employees can conduct meetings online through free modern technology. So, why do not many of our institutions, associations, and organizations convert their work policies to enable their employees to carry out the majority of their work at home and evaluate their employees on their achievements rather than on their work hours? Often, employee time in the office may be wasted through inefficiency or due to non-work-related items. So, why not change to a work nature that will lead to reduce of costs on transportation and opportunities for friction within the workplace, decreasing gossiping, thus, resulting in more productive work. We could develop our institutions into electronic institutions the same way e-governments are, which have been given a big boost by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Regarding our consumption habits, we spend a large part of our time in restaurants, cafes, and markets, where we spend a lot of money on unessential items. But during the Covid-19 outbreak, we learned to stay at home, make our own food, sweets, and drinks, and exchange short visits. We now have a more balanced lifestyle and a new social nature, ridding our old consumption habits.
  • Worship can also take place at home just as it does in the mosque and the church, as it is a direct relationship between the individual and his/her God. This is occurring during the Covid-19 pandemic, where individuals did not stop practicing their faith or conducting their prayers. It is unnecessary for us to refrain from our collective rituals at churches and mosques after the crisis ends; but, let it become our nature to also donate to the building of schools, hospitals, and charities to help those who are poor, not only to mosques and churches, as this is charity that is no less valuable to God than building a place of worship for Him.
  • Personal hygiene, social distancing, including refraining from kissing and handshakes, are all habits that we have developed in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, as these are main ways that can spread Covid-19 to others. What is the state of a groom who handshakes and kisses all of the guests invited to his wedding or a mourner who is in contact with a thousand people who come to give their condolences? I think that these habits should be disposed of, as they are during the Coronavirus outbreak. The original way of greeting one another is through handshakes, not kissing. We should also clean the areas in front of our homes as well as the streets. How embarrassing is it that the smell of one’s perfume is fragrant, but it then mixes with the dirty smell of the garbage on the streets.

These are only mere suggestions that I really hope we initiate a dialogue on and improve our natures and habits. The origin of humankind is his/her morals; if we succeed in re-cultivating our moral natures that stem from our human conscious, that we do not carry out in fear of punishment or for rewards, then we can promote our religious habits imposed by God and receive our reward, as well as adhere to our legal responsibilities to the state, to avoid punishment. Did Covid-19 teach us a lesson in reforming our natures and habits? Will these changes in habits lead to a greater change in the Palestinian cultural dimensions, mainly in the individualism vs collectivism dimensions? If this potential becomes reality, then the aftermath of the Coronavirus period will shift the representation mechanisms. Moreover, the level of the social contract and the power distance will be affected.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or the donor.

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