Peanut Butter Sandwich

I would like to start with this scene from Endgame:

Now, some of you are wondering why I’m posting a picture of Black Widow and Captain America talking over a peanut butter sandwich. It will make sense, trust me.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic that has (as of 29 March 2020, 1845 hrs GMT+8), 677,660 victims and 31,737 deaths, it is not much of a stretch to say that this is going to be the greatest test humanity has faced in recent times. The great number of deaths is just far too many, and the knock-on cost on the world’s economy could easily run into the trillions of dollars.

That being said, I do hope that this great test of our generation will have positive effects for mankind as a whole in the long run. For example:

1. We will all learn to be nicer to others.

I sincerely hope that with social distancing in queues, we will learn to not rush each other, nor breathe down other people’s backs (both literally and figuratively).

I hope that we will learn to be nicer to the bus uncle who has to be away from his little kids in Malaysia for a whole month just so that they can have food on the table and a roof over their heads.

I hope that we will learn to not rush to buy goods at the very first sign of trouble and deprive others who may need those goods more than ourselves. Game theory, after all, suggests that the best outcome for all of us is to simply buy what we need to make sure there is enough for everyone.

2. We will all learn to be more trusting of others.

I sincerely hope that we will trust that whoever is sitting next to us on the bus is acting in a socially responsible manner, in that he is not trying to hide his illness in order to avoid being seen as ‘weak’.

I hope that employers will learn to better trust that just because their subordinates are applying for medical leave or telecommuting, they are not trying to get out of work.

I hope that employees will not abuse the trust that their employers have placed in them when they approve such applications.

Pictured: Why some employers are justifiably scared of work-from-home initiatives…

3. We will learn to take better care of the environment.

I sincerely hope that the fact that the air over China has become clearer, or that the canals of Venice are now cleaner and teeming with life, will be sobering testaments to how badly we are treating this home of ours called Earth.

Tourists: great for the Venetian economy, less so for the environment.

Don’t get me wrong – I do not wish for our factories to be permanently shut, or for our planes to be permanently grounded. I do hope, though, that we will learn to make better use of cleaner fuels and more environmentally-sustainable forms of production and transportation.

4. We will learn to appreciate the things we didn’t use to appreciate

I’m talking about being unable to visit our respective houses of worship, or having to queue up just to enter the mall, or watching your kid go for tae kwon do class. There is nothing quite like having an invisible foe stopping you from doing these things from finally appreciating just how good you have it.

And as much as it isn’t great to have our lives disrupted to such a degree, remember there’s always someone out there who has it far worse. Getting cooped up at home with nothing to do isn’t fun, but at least you still have a home. Being bored at home is bad, but it beats being sick in the ICU. Having to stand 6 feet apart from others is unnatural, but it beats being 6 feet underground if you don’t.

Now, at this point some of you are probably just like Black Widow, wanting to hit me on the head with a peanut butter sandwich for trying to look on the bright side of things.

What I’m saying is this: THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS. Everything is transient, both good and bad. COVID-19 is bad, but it does not have to be all that bad if we all learn the correct lessons for it.

I hereby proceed to catch the peanut butter sandwich flying through the air.

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