Altruism for the human in a pandemic

My new show ‘Involuntary Comfort’ is a podcast where I speak carelessly. I also want to hear from you. What do you think about it? What could be better? Which kind of stories do you love?


So, here’s the question I want to try and answer today: Is altruism possible in today’s world?

Firstly, the ‘possibility’ in this question is a valid variable. And secondly, the ‘world we live in today’ is a modern cue for obvious reasons.

Being selfless is practically a good way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. However, it has a different sense to being selfless. Being careful about your safety will help you contain the virus and hence become selfless according to the definitions set by a pandemic.

If someone stays at home watching Netflix, work on their own, sleeping and discarding the choice to have a social gathering – they risk a judgement to be seen as someone who is self-absorbed. And, they are. This nowhere means what they’re doing is wrong if not correct. The point is they are less wrong than the ones going out which will make a huge difference to the dynamics of COVID-19. So, in a way they could not have been more right about this.

The last time I saw – there’s literally nothing wrong about caring for your health either.

If it means to be self-absorbed when all you do is care about others’ safety, then so be it – during when the right thing to do is exactly that. Because, you’re being selfless by giving up the joy of being outside. In the end you are helping everyone by staying put and in containing the killer.

The practical reason for this to be the only way out of the chaos is you won’t realise when you’re spreading it for real.

So, just don’t give yourself (and try for others) the chance to even risk spreading it. If you have to be out there, wear a mask for the sake of another life and eventually even yours. It’s not that hard if you’re not flippant towards humanity.

A part of why this could be beneficial to you is a fundamental acoustic in your mind. Those who have been staying at home can be proud (while having no guilt and without being selfish) to say these words out loud:

“I had no part in the mass killing. Directly or indirectly!”

This may seem offensive to those who are walking around like this is pre-coronavirus with the disguise of the times being post-coronavirus. Again, no one really has a vital part in the death of someone after spreading this virus. But, one can be responsible in the slightest ways possible for an infection. It’s up to personal belief whether you consider this as responsible enough to be murderous.

Here’s a perspective from ‘Barking Up the Wrong Tree’, and it says:

Looking at the research we see that during disasters, altruism is the rule. Selfishness is the exception.

Eric Barker on being self-less

Altogether, it seems like a concept hard to believe in (but very easy to understand.) It’s common to have varying opinions about this. What I don’t understand is – people choose to be carelessly selfish. And, specifically often complain about the economy and boredom for weird reasons.

It’s clearly falling down. The economy and your interesting life are both in deterioration. So, does this mean we need to have the bad guys backing the bad step? People who know barely about the working of an economy are using it to reason their time outside eating a pizza in their favourite cafe. Why not go to Italy? You’ll also help the global-economy of ‘ignorant reasons to travel’ while helping the exports for mozzarella. Sherlock, it doesn’t work that way.

Even though ICMR claims no community-transmission is happening, it’s hard to believe in these claims. Knowing the numbers increasing so rapidly it is seemingly an impossible reality we are being forced to face. In fact, the numbers are increasing for the first time in my city where it’s obvious enough and that’s why this article had to be published.


To be human right now is to let go of the joys for some days. You took the break, and it has to end somewhere. Let’s be honest, having your favourite chai on the road is only making you feel better. Not the economy.

However, it’ll be hard for the chaiwala to make a living if everyone stops drinking his tea. The point is these customers won’t feel slightly responsible when he was not suggested a better way to sell the tea during a lock-down.

Here’s how even the most vulnerable entities of this recession are solving their problems:

“We are thinking of starting ‘sev puri’ and ‘paani puri’ takeaways and supply our ‘chutneys’ hygienically packed to general stores which are open,” Sharma said.

From The New Indian Express

This goes beyond the tea. This is about making the seller survive and grow with the times we face. By doing this, you are helping yourself and the community.

But, a wise way to do this is by not risking any life you see. Especially your own.

Many need to stop making excuses to be out there. You are not helping if you don’t know how you’re helping the economy. If you do know how, understand the semantics of it to keep yourself safe out there. Wear masks to help everyone contain the virus and not to get rid of a fine. It’s about time we all became human.

Thank you for reading. See my artwork!

#5

Cement and glass

#4

Well, photos.

#3

What do you see?

When will corona die?

Another walk on the road, and we are seven in number. Us three from home and the neighbors. It is lovely, like usual, the sky today.

“Amma, when will corona die?” asks my neighbor’s kid. Her mother dials a number on the phone which makes her even more impatient. She’s always trying to make her point on our evening-walk. When morning, she’s usually as quite as the lake we walk to. We maintain a distance of seven feet. One after another, like the train of angry ants. Yes, we call ourselves ants trying to be better humans.

To avoid being at her tantrum, I answer “A few more days. Why? You love going to school that much?”

“No! I don’t ever want to go to school. It’s better this way.”

She winks back to the point made. But, her dad couldn’t say the same about his office. ‘He cannot say this about his office’ is more precise. Without having options to choose from, he chooses to risk it all.

He works at the Government, and I barely know him. With him in the front, we barely talk. And, with me at the tail, it’s easier to have fun with this kid. Must say, it’s even comfortable back here without being fed with opinions and facts. At least we both agree that Tom was Jerry’s best friend.

We talk about the sky more than corona. More about the fun in not going to school than corona. More about our personal tricks to walk on the lake than corona. But, it’s challenging for even us to not talk about the killer walking freely on these streets.

“Tonight, it will die. I just spoke with corona! Tomorrow morning, it will have died!” her mother replies with the widest smile. She just got off the phone.


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What’s good about these bad times?

In a world with increasing screen-time, distance while socializing and not to forget the saddening fatalities – it is a little hard to give ourselves the better-perspective lenses. It is written clear in the words of “hard times” that there’s nothing so good about it to live and thrive on. Does this mean we sit back and feel prey to these times? When many around us want to rain insane balls and shower their misery on the collective nature of humanity – I want to talk about these “better-perspective” lenses I found in my cupboard, my shelves and the never ending absence of wind in a room.

Let’s begin with opening the windows. Now, we have wind.

(G)OLD IN THE HOUSE

Look for old stuff in your closet or mostly your mom’s closet. You get to live, literally, your childhood in a time where everything seems so uncertain. Past has happened, for sure. And, if you haven’t had a traumatic childhood where the dad killed your Jewish friends, go ahead and rejoice those sweet memories. Everyone has at least one according to Stephen Hitler.

This is one of the book’s last pages from my 11th Class

Just in case you realise you had a childhood full of boredom. Prove yourself wrong now.

PROVING YOURSELF WRONG

End is an hoax to the list of activities one can do at home. From drawing those mountains to capturing those clouds on your phone. We are, ones with digital devices, the luxurious group of people in this world right now with the situation given at hand. Even if it means tiring your eyes while just watching a lot of screen – it looks far better than going out and risking our lives with a novel disease.

My house, from an angle

Here’s a list of activities you can do or already do at home. They are tough.

  1. Reading
  2. Drawing
  3. Watching Netflix
  4. Drinking tonnes of water
  5. Photography and just anything involving “busy”

PHOTOGRAPHY

It’s not that easy to find new elements to shoot at one place repeatedly. So, that’s really the only kind of creative drill you might want yourself to go through to push up your game. Once there’s nothing to shoot, you can be sure that it’s the saturation we all have already reached. If you are an artist I’d suggest you create. And, creating something new must not be a burden at all.

I don’t have high-end cameras or even the low-end gears for photography. Literally, everything I have is a brick with lenses. Two of them. I shot these photos on my Nokia 6.1 Plus, trying to achieve the canvas after painting:

Of all, it’s completely okay if you fail at finding any better-perspective lenses for yourself. Because, if it were not hard you’d have found it even without this quarantine.

So, light up and fly like it’s your time!

FLATTEN THE CURVE: NOT YOUR BELLIES

It is true what they say about people giving their best during hard times. Not everyone does it though. In fact, many fail to give their best when they’re vulnerable to such hard times. This failure, I suppose, comes only due to one reason. And, it’s the lack of support in their journey to make it through. Believe me, everyone tries to make it through. It only makes it easier for them to get out of the pit if they’re given a hand to reach out for. It puts them in comfort. And, such external comfort is not only healthy; it’s vital. Plus, it’s easily found – many just assume it’s the toughest of all to approach for help.

While there are many victims of different kinds, today I want to talk specifically about the ones who are shamed for their body. And, by shamed, I mean, who are told “You fat ugly mutt!” and not “You pumpkin, don’t eat sweets like your life depends on it.” The latter is shaming too, if you are mistaken. The only way to not shame a person is by not shaming the person.

We are living in a world where even calling out your friends by the names of age-old “tease-culture” would be considered body-shaming. I have teased many of my friends on their shape. But, these same persons talked about my shape too. This mutual trust is where both the parties know they’re vulnerable and don’t mean to hurt one another. It is only better if the ones vulnerable share the misery keeping a reminder to not deny the fact that this shaming is not only unhealthy, it is very stupid. I don’t regret having fun with my friends. Because, we friends know that we are having fun. When someone’s hurt, we know then too. And, that’s when anyone can give out a hand and pull them out. It is the victim’s silent call to the one’s shaming them to stop and also to pull them out. Many who shame – retaliate with even more shaming techniques. The few who understand, either help back or they start feeling vulnerable. It is always tricky. But, solvable.

In reality – this confrontation hardly ever happens. Not many who are body-shamed have the courage to speak up. Some even give in to the act and be normal about it. This not only breaks them down, it potentially breaks down much more – the relations and the ability to work. Not confronting your weakness, of all, is the worst you can do when body-shamed. If you can’t tell it to the person directly, tell it to someone else. Anyone will do. Just talk about it with the ones you’re comfortable talking about it. Most of the times, all you need is to talk to yourself first.

I have, in past, shamed a few people on the basis of body-shape. I didn’t know I was body-shaming these people. Fat or thin. Dark or fair. That, is the core of body-shaming: the labels plus not knowing when you shame someone. Would I change the past if I had a chance to do it? Sure. Is that the same as regret? Not really, because I know it’s a problem that can only be solved if you don’t put yourself in the same position as the one where you want to score good for your parents and not yourself. Just start preparing well for the exams. Regretting your exams in the past have never given you the results, have they?

Some hype regarding such problems is inevitable. We see many worrying about the sizes available to shop. Many are just creating problems rather solve them. Such people not only create new problems, they make it hard to solve the existing ones.

Many won’t even realise they’re cutting the mental injury deeper every time they shame someone. Many of us do it, even when we don’t realise – it’s better if you keep the rule simple. No teasing when the person tells you not to. But, better – no teasing at all. It doesn’t work most of the times because our language itself widely has evolved from such shaming. In cases where the person doesn’t tell you and laughs away, we are back at square one – not confronting our weakness. Which, seems to be very close to the core of problems in sync with body-shaming.

This is not meant to motivate anyone being body-shamed. I don’t hold the capacity or even the ability to do so. But, I am aware that the shape of a body is nowhere close to the mind’s well-being. Being active and working with love is much closer. Plus, working out works.

Even when there’s no need to change the way you look, we all need to flatten one kind of curve. To know more about it, check the following page:

I have written about my learning experience using the outbreak as a tool, you can click here to read it. Happy reading!