A reflection of the present and hope for the future.
Humanity now is facing the biggest challenge to date with the pandemic COVID-19 that has emerged rapidly within the space of three months. We have seen businesses close, education and social lives put on hold; multiple sacrifices that have arose with an aim of putting a stop to this virus. Yet, despite all of the sacrifices made, as a community we have gained so much in the process of these hardships. Behind the clouds and midst’s of our sacrifices, humanity is stronger than ever. The relationships we have with ourselves, other people and the earth are flourishing within this present moment. In uncertain futures such as these, being mindful and reflecting the present with hope for the future, is what will truly make the pages of the history books.
Here is a reflection of the current events to pass, the lessons they bring and how we at NEA hope it will shape the future of us all.
The Earth is Healing
We all know that the topic of climate change has grown for concern within the decades to pass. Just before the topic of Corona overtook our media outlets, there was in fact a climate emergency that was declared by all parliamentary summits. CO2 atmospheric concentrations have surged to 415.26 ppm, which is the most our atmosphere has contained within 3 million years! However, since we have all began the COVID-19 continuous habits of social distancing and a heavy stop on the everyday atmospheric non-essential pollutant activities we so rely on, the carbon emissions have dramatically decreased by 5% worldwide. This level of reduced emissions has not been seen since the world war II began. In addition to this, China and Italy-the top two countries to first be majorly impacted by COVID-19, show huge drops in air pollution above land, via satellite imaging. The huge corresponding fossil fuel pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and noxious gasses are less present within the air that people breathe and atmospheric storage by 18%, meaning health and environmental benefits will only flourish moving forward.
You can witness such drastic improvements within ecosystems of the environment, through the return of wildlife within the waters of Venice. The water pollution majorly contributed by boats and tourism has dramatically declined and Venice has clear waters again. This has massively encouraged the return of wildlife which once so happened to exist on the waters such as swans and other birds of flight. This definitely brings hope moving forward in terms of addressing our past environmental issues- if we managed to do it now for the sake of COVID-19, we can most definitely manage to learn from our past actions, repeat and encourage further intuitive actions like these for our sustainable future.
The Community is One
Within the chaos of the pandemic, community has very much risen in prevalence. The entire concept of social distancing is being honoured for the greater aim of preserving our NHS. A great social movement has occurred; people are willing to sacrifice seeing their family, friends and going about their daily social routines for the sake of a greater winning health care system (the ‘flattening of the curve’), to ensure that hospitals can stay within sustainable means throughout the ongoing durance of the pandemic. We also see doctors, nurses, carers and cleaners who also sacrifice their time with families at home, to continuously give 16 hour shifts and more within a day to pass the severity that COVID-19 brings. However, the beautiful aspect that rises from all this, is the gratitude that has risen within the community. People have begun to value the time and efforts given by our health care workers and individuals-we are valuing each other! We are seeing businesses offer to provide priority resources and services to the heroes of this pandemic, as a form and way of giving back. In addition to this let us not forget the gratitude and humanitarianism that we have found within ourselves. Neighbourly actions, from a mere check-up to see if our community members are okay, to ensuring the elderly are fully stocked with resources to last out their isolation. It is a conscious revolution within all community members to survive and stay strong TOGETHER.
The lesson for the future is simple. Those small acts of kindness really do go a long way. Being conscious of the humanity that surrounds you cannot be forgotten once the chaos of the pandemic has been laid to rest. We have a chance now truly to build the community further and sustain those tender morals that we have initiated in this current momentum. The volunteering you did to support your NHS? Keep doing it. The phone calls and weekly shopping for your elderly neighbours that you have been doing too? They need you now more than ever-don’t stop.
So, with the extra time that comes from the complete stop to our routines, brings about moments of conscious awareness and mindfulness. We suddenly have much time to nurture and give back to ourselves. Typically, many people neglect their ambitions and hopes for the future due to the 9-5 regime that is incorporated within our routines to survive. However now, we have all been granted that extra time to reinvent ourselves within a new reality. Not all have the luxury of being able to make ends meet from the economic factors that follow from COVID-19 i.e. redundancy however, practicing gratitude in times like these is more necessary than ever. We must all ask ourselves, despite the hardships and obstacles we face, that we in fact still remain luckier than the 2.1 billion people around the world who unlike us, do not have shelter, running water nor the wholeness of functional families and ‘togetherness’ to their means. Amidst all our chaos, we are still undoubtedly better off and very much more secure in our homes; with the families that surround us within them.
This free time that we have been granted with, gives great opportunity to integrate our spiritual connection with Allah more strongly within daily habits and the future. It also comes at such a great time within the year as Ramadan is nearing upon us! No doubt the routine will differ greatly as for the many of us who do not commute to work, will fast at home. In addition, to not partaking to the usual Ramadan habits such as gathered Taraweeh prayers and the breaking of fasts surrounded by many people. This is where we shouldn’t be disheartened and embrace the coming changes for this Ramadan. As after all, through hardships and changes beyond our comfort zones, comes the reward of bettering ourselves from the obstacles with such patience. For remember ‘Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear’ (2:286). Prayer and remembering the pillars of Islam is what needs to be honoured consistently within these times of difficulty. Meditations and moments with god are what will bring you peace, sanctuary and strengthen your relationship with Allah to carry forward within the future. COVID-19 can be seen as a blessing as we have been granted many more minutes, hours and days to dedicate to our creator. A creator that has never forgotten us nor neglected each and every one of us.
For all those now passing these times with a heavy heart, remember that you are not forgotten in the eyes of your Lord. Now is where we all together must nurture and grow within ourselves and the families that we have. COVID-19 indeed is an immense hardship, but behind its obstacles gives rise to beautiful community values of togetherness, to moments where nature can blossom and rejuvenate; for us to most importantly reconnect with our creator.
‘Do not lose hope, nor be sad. You will surely be victorious if you are true believers’ (3:139).
Artwork by Sara Alfageeh @saraalfageeh