People from all walks of life and agegroups are talking in the lexicon of corona – pandemic, epicenter, testing, positive, negative, spikes, socialdistancing, lockdowns, masks, sanitizers, ventilators, travel history,suspects, quarantine, self-isolation, red zones, breaking the chain,super-spreaders etc. The spill-over effect caused by the excessive usage ofthis set of vocabulary is an epistemic epidemic less lethal than pandemicitself.
No doubt, the virus is deadly but thesubjugation of human conversations with disproportionate usage of coronavocabulary has distracted us from the reality beyondcorona. Language and thought share a strong bond in shaping the nature anddirection of human perception. In the present scenario, the day to dayconversations are flooded with coronized vocabulary and the obvious consequencewith respect to human behaviour is the overflow of responses and reactionsreplete with fear and anxiety.
Human mind is not an insulated entity thatcan remain insensitive about the happenings taking place in its surroundingenvironment but at the same time it is not completely porous to allow freeentry of stimuli to get accumulated within.
Human mind has some degree of autonomy toselectively attend to and filter the stimuli it is exposed to. But it is theover-exposure of the mind to some particular stimuli both consciously as wellas unconsciously leading to conditioning and thus paralyzing the power toregulate the entry of stimuli. Self-regulatory mechanism of stimuli has to bevigilant and functional in all situations to generate appropriate responsesrather than resorting to meek surrender and giving a free hand to thesituations to dance on their tunes.
In the present pandemic, either one has toallow the dreadful statistics of deaths to handover the certificate of gloom inour hands or engage in purposeful activities and thinking about the ways andmeans to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. It is the perception thatmatters the most in such trying times that defines and dictates our mentalorientation.
There is an emergency for adopting socialdistancing from saddening statistics. The frequent and flashing number of casesaround the globe on the television and mobile phone screens is more anintimidation than just information. And at the top of it the media propagandaof communalizing the communicable disease is doing more harm than any good.Adversity should not sweep away the entire asset of human attributes and renderit completely bankrupt. Coping with the pandemic should be a comprehensiveendeavour with innate ingredients of showcasing the passion to fight thepandemic using novel strategies.
Enough of coronized conversations now. Itis time to zoom the camera to the brighter side of our lives. It is not thetime to lament the human misery only. Human achievements that have beautifiedthe world need to be remembered. Philosophers, scientists, scholars, artists,writers, poets and great philanthropists whose outstanding contributions haveinfused hope and optimism in times of crisis need to be revisited andremembered to rekindle faith in overcoming challenges. Apart from thescientists and doctors who have gifted miraculous lifesaving contributions,there are many more to mention. For example, Loius Braille invented Braillemethod to enable people with blindness to be able to read and write. LewisCarroll’s Alice in Wonderland is literary classic that has made children to beamused with wonder. Thomas Edison brightened the dark world with his inventionof tungsten filament used in lamps. Charlie Chaplin who without speaking a wordcreated ripples of laughter across the globe with his unprecedented art ofacting. Stalwarts like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, B R Ambedkar exemplifiedthe benchmarks of philanthropy with their lifetime struggles for representingthe voice of the voiceless.
The pandemic is an eventuality and shouldnot undermine the legacy of the human achievements in different fields of art,science, and literature. Such glaring and glorifying contributions should usherthe energy of hope and optimism to overcome the present pandemic.
It is time to unburden our conversationswith the heavy load of coronized vocabulary that stoops down our shoulders withdespair. This lump of lexicon should not dictate all the headlines and breakingnews. Social distancing does not mean that eyes have to be glued to televisionscreens displaying tentacled graphic of corona virus 24×7. It is time to take adeep breath and channel our efforts to explore the encyclopedia of hope andhumour; to get refreshed.
The statistics of the pandemic should notmake us statues, but it is the lessons learnt that should make us lively.
Bilal Kaloo is Assistant Professor Department of Education (South Campus), University of Kashmir.