The novel Coronavirus pandemic has impacted humans like never before in the history of humankind on earth, because it has affected the vistas of personal choices and personal likes and dislikes of people. Of course, wars including the world wars did and do impact lives, but not to the extent as on the present prolonged crisis. Thanks to the advisories and preventive measures to check the spread of the disease most people have successfully specialized in saying no to so many things they prefer to say a resounding yes. This is in sharp contrast of the commonly observed phenomenon that people, good-natured as most of them are, find it extremely difficult to say no, and many social analysts consider ‘saying or meaning no’ a negative trait, barring serious situations when a ‘no’ strictly means ‘no’ and should be respected by all concerned parties or offenders. In view of the pandemic that still does not want to leave humankind alone this specialized ‘no’ has assumed a tremendous and time-defining significance.
How you wish things had been normal and your housemaid started coming to your house, reducing the load of household chores on you and your spouse. Living in home continuously needs cleaning up more regularly than on those days when most of the members would leave home for jobs and other errands, and a super-clean house would await the arrival of the beholders most eagerly and a bit discontentedly too. You’d definitely like to be a help to your toiling and tiring spouse, somehow. But you shall say no as you ought to.
How desperately you’d want to break the monotony of stay-at-home or working from home by going out to indulge in your most ordinary desires like having a cup of special tea at the neighbourhood shop or having a hot snack at your favourite food-joint on the most frequented and economic food lane, and meeting your regular pals at the most familiar lounging points. How desperately you’d want to dine out with your family taking your loved drink or shopping in the inviting malls that you always preferred as one of the weekend outings. But you’ll continue saying no as you ought to, irrespective of whether those facilities were allowed to operate or not yet.
The food and the cab aggregators keep on flooding your in-boxes with messages and requests for your action. You’ll be entreated to order your favorite dishes of which they are aware because of your past orders. You’ll also be entreated to order rides or at least to help out those drivers facing tough times. You’ll feel the impulse to give in at times, when you’d want to order the food just to relive your spouse at least temporarily of the non-stop cooking rigors or you’d want to order a ride just for a change. But as usual, you’ll continue deleting the messages on sight and saying no as you ought to.
How desperately you’d want to invite your friends or kin home for the usual get-together on the usual occasions or without occasions. How desperately you’d want to visit your most favorite aunt or other relatives and friends to mix as well as relishing the delicious dishes for a change. However, you’ll again say no to their coming home or your going out to them. As you ought to.
You’d go on saying or meaning no to all other deemed requirements most earnestly sought to be provided by the hotels or resorts or restaurants, train and flight booking agencies, the local couriers, the newspaper agents, the laundry boys, the salons, the repair-installation specialists, the odd-job boys and the like. You’d also burst out in great anger the moment there is talk of reopening schools and colleges, because you think, as you ought to, that the risks of sending your children out there are still too high.
You’d go on saying or meaning no because your life and the lives of the dearest members of your family matter the most. You do understand your responsibility, and respect the directions or advisories dished out continuously by all the medical experts and the governments.
However, the combined might of all the ‘Nos’ from all of you has been affecting the lives of all the stakeholders involved in doing business for your benefits: from the local shopkeepers & the vendors to the big and bigger service providers. Many of them are shutting down shops or have already stopped functioning, and numerous others are facing imminent unemployment. Their livelihoods depend entirely on your saying yes, as in the near past. This does not at all imply that you are wrong or that you are not philanthropic; of course, you must have done your bit in giving out doles to the worst affected. You’re right, because your life matters; they’re also righteously unfortunate, because their livelihoods matter, and without that their lives are at stake. This scenario is just one of the dead-ends that are emerging out of the ‘lives vs livelihood’ debates engineered by the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
No doubt, no should always mean no. But in the present situation it is of crucial importance to convert some of the nays into the ayes. Besides, from an economic point of view the crucially important factor of creating demand in the economies cannot be realized at all without the ayes of a vast majority of the consumers. For this, the pandemic must be conquered by humankind as soon as possible. Humankind is the most potent force on earth, and nothing is impossible for the combined might of humanity, if there is a strong will. One must never say no to hope.