When the Covid-19 crisis ends, will we return to business as usual? Or
will we use this time to deeply examine our current practices and challenge
ourselves to improve systems in order to improve the lives of all the children
of the Rainbow Nation, asks Rich Mkhondo.

More than 100 days since the first coronavirus case was reported in
South Africa and more than 90 days since lockdown levels were introduced, have
you stopped to ponder what things you may be learning from this devastating
pandemic?

There are quite a few lessons that are being taught by this horrible
plague that is Covid-19.

As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, we are learning that
historically inflexible systems can suddenly become flexible. Indeed, systems,
cultures and missions, can change, when there is the will to do so.

Strength and resilience

Covid-19 is displaying the strength and resilience of our nation in the
face of adversity. In spite of the hard times we face, by and large, we are
enduring the hardships with valour and the majority of us are complying with
the safety measures necessitated to stop the further spread of the virus.

Our healthcare workers, from physicians and nursing staff, support
medical personnel and all others, have risked their lives in the call of duty
during this turmoil.

We are learning to appreciate health workers for their courageous
dedication, as they face the hardship of performing their jobs while wearing
hazmat suits and enduring long hours to heal the sick and fragile. The Rainbow
Nation has much to be proud of.

Covid-19 as a torchlight

The past months have demonstrated that many lessons come out of
adversity. We should consider these as a torchlight that we need to address and
focus on for the future.

Let us acknowledge that we were not fully prepared for this calamity. We
need to have better proactive planning to be ready for natural disasters,
including pandemics and natural disasters of high magnitude.

As we move forward to reopen our country from lockdown Level 3 to 1 in
the future, let us be mindful we have stories of our own.

Opening up to new ideas and initiatives

Countless lessons are practical, yet give way to extraordinary insight;
others are remarkable new discoveries.

The scourge of Covid-19 has opened many new ideas and initiatives,
stories of hard times, resilience, brilliance and courage.

When I asked a friend what she has learnt from this virus, she responded
that the Bible points out that God delights when we learn and grow, and has a
mysterious way of using the bad things that happen for our good.

Another friend told me he has discovered fears he was not aware he had.
He learned to have a greater appreciation for life.

Many people have learned the value of entertainment to calm nerves, find
balance. Reminiscing while watching old TV shows from our childhood rekindles a
feeling of how pleasurable life used to be.

It’s like an anchor to our soul. For example, since watching Michael
Jordan’s Last Dance, I am committed to watching an interesting
documentary once a week.

Covid-19 and creativity

I know friends who have explored their creative side, with new talents
and ideas emerging. They’ve learned to sew, write, sing, play an instrument,
decorate their home or personal space, and have been doing their own gardening.

People have found creative ways to celebrate. A friend recently held her
virtual 50th birthday. Another, to remain connected, is having monthly virtual
high tea with 15 friends to chat about their experiences.

Some have become more aware of their inability to handle stress and have
learned new coping skills to help them take a sensible approach when problem
solving.

Businesses have become resilient, stretching their industrial savvy with
the expansion of services they provide.

We watched as micro, small and medium enterprises quickly came to the
rescue by manufacturing personal protection equipment such as masks and hand
sanitisers, to name a few.

Expanding food services to take-out or delivery was a stretch for the
restaurants we know and love. Pharmacies have now resorted to providing
delivery for all sorts of goods, such as prescriptions, groceries and almost
anything you need.

Oh, and the challenges of home schooling. While working from home, some
parents are doubling up as teachers and activity planners for their children.
They have been stretched by the need to juggle a multitude of activities, while
also managing their kids’ daily activities and needs.

Health and economic impacts

We are learning that the economy is taking a knock from which it will
take some time to recover.

The health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis are real, and it
is critical that we take them seriously. But we must also acknowledge the very
real, ongoing impacts of systemic inequities – many of which have been openly
unveiled and demonstrated through this crisis.

It is a pity and sad that some of our friends have had the hard life
experience of saying goodbye to a loved one taken away by this virus. The mark
left by this cruel pandemic has been a journey of emotional pain and loss for
many of us who have lost friends and family members.

Here are the 10 lessons of life I will take away from this time when our
freedom has been curtailed and movements are being scrutinised:

Gratitude

Sometimes we take for granted the basic things such as a roof over our
heads and food on the table. Let us be thankful and grateful despite being
buffeted by the virus.

That longing for human connection

The handshakes, kisses and hugs are gone. This has been difficult for
all of us, but we are getting used to it.

The benefits of wearing masks, washing and or sanitising hands and
social distancing

The age-old hygiene drill is here to stay. Otherwise the infection will
keep on rising.

Learning to live with less

I have realised that we can live with less, spend more time with family,
and make more time to exercise, more time to reflect, and more time to do work
as well.

The value of life

You don’t know what the future is going to bring.

Less focus on material things

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of cherishing those around
us, especially family members.

The value of slowing down

It is important to prioritise “Me time”.

Doing things that make you happy

It is important to do things which can help you stay physically and
mentally healthy and at ease especially during a time of so much sadness.

Transparency is the best medicine

Transparency by the government, companies and organisations and
provision of information can and will help educate citizens on the risks and
necessary precautionary measures to help flatten the curve of the virus.

An act of kindness goes a long way

Take time to extend a hand to a stranger. Drop off those food parcels to
those who are in need.

When the Covid-19 crisis ends, will we return to business as usual? Or
will we use this time to deeply examine our current practices and challenge
ourselves to improve systems in order to improve the lives of all the children
of the Rainbow Nation?

At this time, all of humanity needs to step up and action the call of
the assassinated American president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, when he said:
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your
country.”

JFK offers a number of prophetic quotes and potential lessons for our
time. Let us accept his words of wisdom and hope when he said: “No problem
of human destiny is beyond human beings.”

 – Rich Mkhondo runs The Media and
Writers Firm, a content development and reputation management hub.

Leave a Reply