Death is a reality we take for granted. We have never felt it, seen it, or heard it as we do now when Covid -- another five-letter word – stares at us. The pandemic has made one thing clear: Beyond geographic barriers, religious walls, social diversities and economic disparities, there is one impending fear which hangs over everyone – the fear of death. As the novel virus churns the life of peoples across the globe; as it leaves billions isolated within the four walls of their living spaces; as bodies are thrown into graveyards without giving a chance even to the dear ones to have a last look at them; as life disappears like water on a hot metal; as worshipping places and preaching centres lie locked up; an unusual spark hits us, a spark that makes us look within, a spark that prods us to introspect.
What have we been pursuing in our life? What have been our priorities? What are we eager to accomplish? What are we trying to accumulate in a hurry? What positions are we trying to garner by hook or crook? Covid time has provoked us to take a relook at what makes human life meaningful. It has nudged us to look at the human and ethical values we should strive for. It calls us to leave behind our abnormal appetite for material possessions and endeavours to attain them at any cost. It tells us the ludicrousness of playing politics to achieve man-made positions.
Certain things within us should die for a meaningful life. The lockdown ought to have helped us to logon to those elements in us and delete them. This is true for individuals and institutions. There has been constant clamour for putting an end to the trend of building big worshipping places. The tiny virus has given us a new vision on prayer and worship. The stark reality is that you can be fitted into a small urn once you are reduced to ashes. If so, the focus should be on spreading values of compassion, generosity, kindness, and empathy for others. Our resources should be well spent on furthering these values.
When we are driven by self-centred ambitions, these values die a natural death. Living with ‘values dead’ is not worth living. The opposite should happen – these precious values should flourish. This is the message Covid has brought to us. When these values become close to our heart, we would set apart our limited resources and efforts for the betterment of others; we will not waste them for the manifestation of pomp and show. Power, positions, and possessions will pale into insignificance when we realise the core values of life.
For believers, death is not the end of life, but only a change for the beginning of a new life. There is a Life after the life in this world. It is to enjoy the bliss of this Life that we should engage in corporal works of mercy and compassion. This message is unmistakably conveyed in Jesus’ words when he said, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” Covid came as a silent preacher to remind us what Jesus said and jog our memories with a dreaded message: Give life to values or we will be as dead as a dodo.(Published on 13th July 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 29)