I continue with my lockdown reflections and for this instalment, I want us to reflect on what we are learning about ourselves and about life during this lockdown. Here we go:
- We don’t need much to live and be happy. A friend of mine based in the US who lives in an upper-class neighbourhood went for a long walk during the lockdown in her state. And she was struck by all the expensive luxurious cars that were parked; the private jets covered in the private hangers.
She said, “My neighbours are always on the move. They have important things to do and no time to waste and yet today, they are all forced to stay home and the expensive cars, jets and yachts covered with nowhere to go and nothing to do. There are no high-profile events to attend. There are no fancy dates and dinners at classy restaurants to dress up for and drive to in their expensive cars. They are stuck home and yet they have survived one whole week.”
If there is one thing that COVID-19 is forcing us to admit, it is that we don’t need much to live and be happy. And it is one lesson I hope does not escape us when this is all over.
- There is more to life than rushing to work. In other words, our busy and hectic schedule is not critical to our existence. The chances are that you are listening to me in the comfort of your home. In the past, the only time you listened to me from home was when there was a holiday. Under normal circumstances, you would have been listening to me in your car as you fight your way through traffic to the office or to a meeting. Or you might have left home early and gotten to the office and you would have been listening to me as you prepare your mind for another busy day.
Today all that rushing to work and to meetings are suspended and yet life has not come to an end. We are all being reminded that there is more to life than rushing to work and to meetings.
- The internet has become an integral part of our lives. Can you imagine a lockdown without mobile phones and internet connections and social media? I am sure that but for the availability of internet connections, many people would have lost their minds during the lock down. We have become so dependent on the internet that without it, most of us cannot function.
- The human being will find a way of taking advantage of every situation. There used to a village on the Kumasi-Accra highway that became famous for the number and frequency of motor accidents it recorded. For some reason, commercial passenger buses, commercial and private salon cars, trucks, petrol tankers kept crashing and overturning in or near the village. And in this village, everyone wore expensive watches, their ghoulish loot from stripping those who died in the accidents of all valuables.
I remember on one of my journeys to Kumasi in those days, I saw the inhabitants of the village selling petrol in buckets. A petrol tanker had overturned on the outskirts of the town and spilling its load and they had gone to fetch the fuel to sell.
It may disgust you but the fact is that the human being will find a way of taking advantage of every situation. Your crisis is someone’s windfall. Your anguish is someone’s profit.
A feature of the days leading to the lockdown is that prices of food items and all kinds of groceries went up by as much as 300% in most cases. Some traders boasted that coronavirus was better for business than Christmas.
A member of my household disgusted by the increases in prices of pepper and tomatoes complained bitterly about how the traders were taking advantage of the situation and I said to her, “Don’t blame them. This is life and it is human nature. And it is also free-market forces at work.”
Are the traders wrong to have taken advantage of the situation? I don’t know. All I know is that in their shoes we may not do any different.
- We can reach out to God outside the confines of the church building as well. Over the ages and in all countries, some church leaders have ensured that their members are oriented to think that they can find God only in church. It is so bad that many Christians do not believe that God will hear them if they do not make their supplications from a church building. Today, churches are shut and I know that prayers are still being lifted up to God. And now, hopefully, Christians are being reminded that God does not reside in a building put up by men; that God is spirit and they that worship him must do so in spirit and in truth.
I look forward to the lockdown and social distancing protocols being lifted so we can have the churches reopened again because I am a preacher. But in the meantime, I am so happy that Christians are reminded of a critical biblical truth that God is everywhere and can be reached everywhere and by everyone.
- Humans are not in control as much as we think we are. A friend once said to me, “Uncle Ebo, I think we should make it mandatory for people to visit the mortuary once a year.” He said if we did that, perhaps people will learn to be more humble.
The human being has the tendency of believing that he is indestructible; we talk as if we own everything; we act as if we will never die and we operate as if we are our own masters. We hear people saying things like, I will destroy you; I will show you where power lies; and you realise that we forget our place in the universe. But every now and then, something happens that reminds us that we are not really in control.
COVID-19 has brought life as we know it to a standstill. It is a rude reminder that it will not take much to show us that we are not as much as we think we are. I am afraid though that this is one of the lessons we will forget quickly as soon as things return to normal but even if it is for a brief moment, it is good for the pride of man to be brought low.
- We should not take life and anything for granted. Many of us before the lockdown did not appreciate the kind of lives we had. Today we will give anything to get that kind of life back. Think of all the things you are missing right now and ask yourself, did you appreciate them before the lockdown? Some of us, under lockdown, are realizing we had been blessed with so much and we did not know it because we had taken so much for granted. Hopefully when this is all over, we will begin to appreciate everything we have and every day that we are spared.
And that is my presentation for today. Keep your spirits up and keep safe. This too shall pass.
The writer, Mr. James Ebo Whyte, popularly known as Uncle Ebo Whyte is a playwright who has written and directed over 40plays and counting.
He is the CEO of Roverman Productions, the leading production house in Ghana.
Mr. Ebo Whyte is also a motivational speaker and an author.
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