Written by Prof. dr. Velimir Srica
Chinese word CRISIS consists of two ideograms: the first means DANGER, the second means OPPORTUNITY. Most people perceive the current pandemic as a DANGER manifesting itself in its worst forms. It causes drastic behavior change, quarantine and social isolation. It creates panic, shortages and anxiety. It at times dramatically reduces economic activity, destroys stock markets and paves the way for recession. It causes schools, colleges, even kindergartens to close. Many sport events, concerts, competitions and championships are canceled. An overstretched health system is bursting at the seams. Some borders are closed, international traffic has stopped, and airlines, cultural institutions, tourism and the entertainment industry are suffering huge losses. Concerned heads of government hold press conferences on a daily basis to portray the murky reality, offer drastic measures and restrictive solutions because the problem doesn’t seem to go away, and a possible second wave is just behind the corner. Immersed in such a deep crisis, is it at all possible to see the pandemic as an OPPORTUNITY?
First of all, we had three months to stop and rethink. We have a unique opportunity to question our values and try to get rid of false myths we are surrounded with. Now, more seriously than ever, we may ask ourselves whether selfishness, consumerism, alienation and confrontation are good approaches in dealing with our neighbors and our environment. We are confronted with options to question personal priorities, to reinvent the meaning of life, work and all our activities. We are offered a chance to better understand the risks of global connectivity and the complexity of all the consequences. We are becoming painfully aware of the necessary balance between personal freedoms and restrictions that are imposed on us by the interest of common good. We are now able to compare how a deep crisis is addressed by populist democracies and by authoritarian regimes and learn from the mistakes. Finally, we may (and must) draw lessons from all this by initiating faster and deeper reforms of the (global and local) political, educational, health, social and, of course, economic systems.
Apart from these somewhat abstract and philosophical gains, there are a number of concrete positive consequences of the pandemic-caused crisis. We have experienced a period of reduced energy consumption and its (short-term) positive effects on environment. During the pandemic, the cooperation of scientists is strengthened and the exchange of information between the East and the West has increased. Opposition to vaccination against infectious diseases is now drastically reduced. We have experienced a major shift towards teleworking and the digital transformation trends are gaining momentum. The need for openness and transparency in media and political discourse has grown and the tendency to produce “fake news” has been reduced. Sensitivity for older and more vulnerable sections of the population, including people of color and minorities who are neglected and marginalized has increased. The perception of “private space” is changed and the overall hygiene habits of global population are improved.
In the meantime, while the crises and quarantines of all kinds are still taking place, here are some tips to help you keep calm and avoid depression:
• Watch pandemic news only once a day
• Feed on positive thoughts
• Listen to music that makes you relaxed
• Exercise, dance, and meditate
• Be kind to your loved ones
• Play chess and other board games
• Communicate with your friends online
• Start a long-delayed diet
• Return to a neglected hobby
• Prepare for a more digital future
I wish you all good health and good luck!