Humanity survived pandemics—we’ll defeat this one too

Tuesday May 19 2020

Empty boarding areas are seen at Louis

Empty boarding areas are seen at Louis Armstrong International Airport on May 15, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. PHOTO | CHRIS GRAYTHEN | GETTY IMAGES | AFP 

More by this Author

The intractable conspiracy theories about our current global pandemic is that it is either man-made or if not, it is certainly being exploited by shady cabals and individuals to dominate or exterminate Africans or the rest of the world.
The flavour and details of the conspiracies are really up to the theorists who put them out there and the believers who cling to them for some semblance of certainty in a world that has gone senseless.

Contrast those conspiracy theories with the much quieter, more beautiful and occasionally even humorous trend of showing pictures of how the environment is getting ‘better’ thanks to reduced human activity in countries that have instituted a lockdown. The best is possibly a photoshopped picture of a crocodile swimming in the Venetian canals that is captioned: Luxury Handbags have come back to their natural habitat.

On the one hand, you have the terminally selfish anthropocentrism that believes the universe and all things in it revolve around man - yes, man, we’re talking full blown psychotic patriarchy here.

On the other hand, you have a modest and somewhat dim view of humanity’s place in the biosphere and the planet which, taken to its extreme, calls into question the very necessity and importance of our being here.

On the one hand, man has dominion over all things and thus exploits without remorse, going so far as to believe we are the masters of the actions of the viral world. On the other, we are just part of the larger whole and perhaps not in control of much at all.

This crisis of humanity brought about by one tiny little virus is very rich grounds for philosophy as it tears apart our human society, a position of extreme discomfort for everyone.


Just about all systems of belief agree on one thing: from the soil we come, to the soil we go, we are at an individual level just a transient part of this whole. A whole no one individual ever has complete knowledge nor control over—and Covid19 is affecting rich and powerful.

I am actually an optimist: everything points to humanity surviving this pandemic as we have other disasters, through our usual use of innovation and science. We’re getting better at it at an astounding rate.

However, this disruption has also shown every flaw, every crack in our social organisation and humbled us in relation to this planet we live on. As a strong believer in not having the answer to everything in life so much as just doing one’s best and appreciating the opportunity to have lived at all, let me end this musing here.

But if you are looking for something more active to do perhaps meditate on this: Ask not what the planet or society can do for you, but what you can do for your planet and your society.

And as long as I am appropriating others’ magnificent pithy instructions: Think Global, Act Local. Remember that slogan? Yeah. That’s a lifetime, several even, of purpose right there. Stay smart, stay safe.

Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report: E-mail: [email protected]