Friday, July 10

A time for reflection — an overdue wake-up call?

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TODAY is Day 11 of what is now going to be a 28-day MCO (movement control order) scheduled to end on April 14. For the majority of us, it will be the first time in our lives that our everyday movement has come under such strict regimented control by the government; and we have been instructed not to venture outdoors between the hours of 7pm and 7am, unless we are involved in the essential services.

For some of us who were around in 1972 in Sibu, we would have experienced the curfews of the communist insurgency and the days of the Indonesian Confrontation in 1963 to 1966, which saw the setting up of the three Controlled Villages of Siburan, Tapah, and Beratok in the then First Division. The curfews had involved the total lockdown of any and all movement during certain stipulated times.

There are many people who are not taking this MCO seriously, and after the early warnings from both the government and the police, the enforcement units have been clamping down by arresting and charging those who had chosen to break the MCO by going out and not staying at home for no valid or urgent reason. These people do not seem to realise that they are actually risking their very own lives — as they could be infected by Covid-19, which could prove fatal. Yet they continue to play dice with their own lives.

As for me, I have only gone out very briefly for less than half an hour on two occasions; once to buy essential groceries and the other to pick up some meds which had seriously run low. I was careful to wear a face mask; not touch nor speak to anyone other than the person I needed to pay or collect the meds from; and ensured that I had returned home promptly. You see I belong to that small but highly vulnerable group age-wise coupled with a recent history of a heart procedure. I have since stayed home and will continue to do so till April 14.

Amidst all the doom and gloom, there have been some bright spots in the news that I’ve read on the internet and on various trusted online news portals.

A farmer in Bakam near Miri donated 200kg of fresh vegetables to those affected by the MCO – especially those daily paid B40 group. A fruit plantation owner in Sitiawan, Perak donated over 100kg of his fresh fruits to the frontline police personnel and medical staff — they were not only fresh but peeled, cut, and properly stored into easy to carry containers ready to be eaten. These had included bananas, papayas, pears, and pineapples.

This is in stark contrast to the photos and video-clips which had circulated on social media and on WhatsApp chat groups showing fishermen throwing away their unsold catch (tons of small fishes) and vegetable farmers trashing truck loads of their unsold greens into rubbish dumps!

I must say something about all these fake news or outdated video-clips that have being circulated on WhatsApp groups and social media.

Now with even more time on their hands, the click-happy fake-news purveyors have been more than active sending out whatever nonsensical and repeated news and video-clips on a fast forward chain around their many WhatsApp groups. I must take to task each and every one of those guilty of having done this — 90 per cent of what you sent and resent are either fake news or outdated video clips from another time, another country, and for some other reason (not Covid-19)!

The great danger of all these fake and outdated resends is that it lessens, or reduces, or even blunts the effect when real and authentic news comes along. It’s exactly like the fable of the shepherd who had cried wolf — if you read fake news often enough you can’t tell the difference when the real news comes along.

Multi-billionaire Bill Gates, 64, on March 23 had issued a very historic statement, which should be widely read. In an open letter entitled ‘What is the Corona/Covid-19 Virus Really Teaching Us?’ he believes that despite the chaos there is a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens. He had just donated the equivalent of RM440 million (85 million sterling pounds) to combat the virus last month.

Gates noted down 14 essential and vital reminders of how we should be living our lives today; the reminders of what we have either chosen to ignore, lessened their importance, or have totally forgotten. I can only be very brief in sharing the points he had made or as he had chosen to call them reminders for “repurposing our lives”.

He reminded us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation, or how famous we are. That we are all connected and what effects one person has an effect on another. Also that our health is precious and the brevity of our lives means that what is most important is to help each other.

Our lives have become more materialistic but at times like this, it’s the essentials that count as opposed to luxuries we can live without.

Gates continues to remind us how important our family and home life is and how much we have neglected this: this Covid-19 has forced us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and to strengthen our family unit.

He reminds us to keep our egos in check, and that our true work is not our job; our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other, and to be of benefit to one another.

Gates also says that no matter how great we think we are, a virus can bring the world to a standstill, and where many see Covid-19 as a great disaster, he sees it as a great corrector!

Last but not least he says that it is reminding us that this can either be an end or a new beginning. It can be a time of reflection and understanding, where we learn from our mistakes, or it can be the start of a cycle which will continue until we finally learn the lesson we are meant to.

It is reminding us that we need to look at the rate of deforestation — we are sick because the earth, our home, is sick. But life is cyclical, and this is just a phase in this great cycle. We do not need to panic, as this too shall pass. It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to each and every one of us whether we will learn from it or not.

May God bless us all.

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