Experiencing the first wave of COVID-19
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
— excerpt from: The Second Coming by Willian Butler Yeats
My first reading of the Friday congregational prayer in our complex was just an overwhelming feeling of sadness and a deep sense of detachment from the mosque that it pierced my heart. It was the call the prayer, very much the call of the falconer and yes, us; the falcons heard the call but responded to the call from the distance of our houses in groups not exceeding thirty in most cases. We prayed away from the mosque like falcons distant from the falconer but heart connected to mosque. Are things falling apart or is the world moving towards the apocalypse?
Things are not falling apart when you contextualise how this virus has united people across the world. From China to South Africa there is a deep sense of awareness of human’s vulnerability to higher of nature. Nature is controlled by Allah, the High the Great and this expression of faith allows me understand that life and death is not within our control but, certainly how we want to live is in our control.
The experience as a headmaster of a school has given me perspective on how we as humans behave. We tend to think that we are invincible and nothing can affect us, it must be the other side of the globe that people will be affected is our brainwave. This thinking prevails because of how the media portrays daily events. So in South Africa for example, we are struggling to come to terms with the reality that this pandemic is serious enough to affect the entire population which could result in a lock down like that in Italy but, I am also inspired with hope because there is growing segment that are proactive. This proaction gives me reason to remain positive but careful. It brings forth the teaching of Muhammad (s) to the best effect that one should tie his camel and then put his trust in Allah.
The past three days have been trying on us in the small enclave called Roshnee. It was the start to prepare the mosques to be closed as a result of COVID – 19 and the debates were intense. It resulted in closure of almost all mosques save two who put in strict measures of control. Congregational prayers were performed in peoples gardens, complex areas and the likes but, the feeling of not praying in the mosque filled the heart with emptiness. The emptiness cannot be described as in ways other than saying its a sadness of a loved one distant from his beloved. These pertinent measures has its place and my thoughts on this luxury of mine in this time of an escalating national problem was jolted when I juxtaposed my situation with the millions of refugees across the world who have been under lock down for years now.
The refugee crises around the world and the COVID – 19 in its second month now cannot be compared as similar. The reality of the refugees pandemic already in biblical proportion is the consequence of the ravages of wars, oppression, repression, human right abuses, human right violations, forced removals, house demolitions, terrorist attacks, extrajudicial killings and injustice reigning supreme makes it vivid to the ear, eye, heart and whole body but, COVID – 19 invisible to the naked eye has overtaken the race in causing mass destruction. No weapon of mass destruction in its most superlative form can defeat this atom size invasion. The refugee crises can be solved immediately if there is a cessation of war and hostilities but; that won’t happen because the greed for power and control has warped our faith in humanity over our lust for wealth, power and weapons. The suffering of millions of refugees by the actions of man fades into obscurity in light of COVID -19 because in the main, it is us, the privileged people of the world are suffering.
I shudder at the alarming death rate in Italy and my heart bursts with grief and cannot escape the lock down in my mind that is unsanitised to the vulnerability of the refugees and the millions of displaced scattering for living space in Europe, UK, USA, Greece and many other countries. With these images of horror, desperation and utter misery I turn my attention to us and I am flabbergasted by our complaints, mass panic buying and disregard for what is required to be done to drop the rate of infection. Our resources are immense and our facilities in comparison to the homeless refugees and those in makeshift homes are heavenly but, our ingratitude forces us into paranoias. In this fit of paranoias we have forgotten that we are not the only people suffering a human catastrophe. Should we not be more rational and sane in this situation whilst the burden of the refugees has just got worse and made more vulnerable? Yes, we should but; we are not because our general life of luxury and unstoppable pleasure seeking lifestyles has made us immune to feel for others on the scale we should. If we had the same hype on the refugees as we how we have on COVID – 19, the world as we know it would be different place.
In opinion when Butler persuasively wrote, ‘ Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,…’, had a prophetic tone to it because then already the world experienced disasters too. Today, the words ring true with greater certainty. We seem to have lost ourselves in the in the anarchy that we have engineered through our advances socially, politically, economically and technologically. Therefore, this virus has taught us how vulnerable we are to nature and that disasters of this magnitude cuts through all identities from religion to race and it does not discriminate in any way. When we do not see this then things will surely fall apart and the values that we worked so hard to establish will diminish into anarchy. The present is all that we have so lets solidify the centre.
The centre is our common purpose as people to make this world a better place. We need to take cognisance of what we spending quality time on and what we are wasting time on. When you put this is perspective by actually writing you daily goals down, you will find that you have great potentials at things you thought you were useless at. This simple exercise is to establish a routine in your day so that you do not waste you time, your life.
Write down a list of at least two biographies you should read. This will provide perspective of great people who navigated life’s immense trials and tribulations and still rose to give meaning to life. Now plan to read it. If you read at least two chapters a day you will achieve a sense of purpose away from the pulpit of the television.
Parallel to the reading of the biographies, have at least one book related to your professional work if not, at least a book related to religion, esoteric, history or leadership/management. This reading depending on your life should take up that first part of the day where would be going to work. This synchronisation with a work ethic will give you a sense about where you are with your work and with you in that space.
The above will now pivot you to look at this whole COVID – 19 with new perspective and deeper understanding because you are looking through the lens reason, logic and common sense rather than emotion and rhetoric over social media. In this way you are keeping your mind open to the call of the falconer because you are not isolating yourself within the confines of movies and series that occupy your creative mind to think of something else.
Thirdly, there is therapy in writing and writing something sensible. This article did not spring from the ground it was a series of thoughts that became an introduction and then this. My old blog was revived into this hoping for more readership because it allows me to see what others think of what I write. This is empowering because you will realise yourself worth and the credibility of your opinions and thoughts. Calm waters does not make a sailor a sailor therefore, with this space of writing you will give that potential a boost or even refine it to a level that inspire millions into action.
Now you should have the following: a biography to read, a book on leadership for example and a book or blog that you write in. Now divide your time by giving a minimum of 30 minutes to each for each day with an intention of incremental growth depending on your goals for the day.
Mirza Yawar Baig in his enlightening Fair Reminders https://player.fm/series/fajr-reminders mentioned the concept of goal planing for each day. Please open the link and search for the podcast on Life Goals. Do a simple note of three things that you want to do for the day and then in a table of two columns have one that reads HELPERS and the other HINDERS. Write brief notes in each noting what helped you achieve that daily goal and what did not i.e. what hindered you.
Why do it?
This will give you an insight in my view on just how the lives of people are in desperate situations from the refugees crossing horrible and life threatening gauntlets to save themselves of bombs and genocide; how people bring out their days in Gaza, Kashmir, war torn Syria and Yemen to name a few. Give it thought – they are surviving because they are not hanging their lives like a MONA LISA painting on the world stage to mystify us. No they are making a concerted effort to survive! No panic buying – just the panic of getting sunk in the middle of the ocean or shoved off somewhere in no-man’s land by cunning pirates making a fistful of dollars on the back of the hopeless and vulnerable. When you see your goals becoming real and fulfilled you will note that you so many opportunities to make it happen. If you are not – sorry you just a lazy bum. It does not sound palatable, but it is true of the underpants fit.
Now change the narrative in the home from complaining on what you see on the news and social media to talking about what you have been reading. Now if all members are reading something even the young ones, give an attentive ear and that will open a different conversation. Punctuate the discussion with the world issues of what people are facing and juxtapose it with your current situation and this again will inculcate a sense of gratitude. These conversations are in your control and influence.
In conclusion when I heard our President, Mr Cycril Ramaphosa make the decision on 23 March 2020 for a national lockdown on midnight of 26 March 2020, my admiration for his leadership rocketed because it was the right decision. The President’s call reflected on government’s proaction to save the nation from a catastrophe and that is commendable but, it rests on the responsibility of each of us. In the same way, if you are not going to be the president of your own life, you will be your own catastrophe because you have yet to learn that adversity is your best teacher.