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The other side of the coronavirus story

Image: Getty Images/ iStock

Image: Getty Images/ iStock  

Like you, I also follow a three-step process of washing my hands: I first wash them with soap, then with Dettol, and then with gau mutra

I’ve been thinking: What if all that the coronavirus wants is harmonious coexistence? Before you bite my head off and burn my house down, hear me out. I have no wish to defend the coronavirus. I’m as terrified of it as you are. Like you, I also follow a three-step process of washing my hands: I first wash them with soap, then with Dettol, and then with gau mutra. Like you, I also have cow dung smoothies every morning to build my immunity against coronavirus. And the most important thing that I try to do, and which I encourage all of you to do, is to follow the recommendation of honourable Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath-ji. His advice is simple: overcome mental stress to overcome coronavirus.

Easier said than done, I know. It could be rather difficult not to get mentally stressed when you know that your very survival depends on not getting mentally stressed. The knowledge that even a little bit of mental stress can make you susceptible to the dreaded coronavirus can be a most stress-inducing thing. And constant awareness of the fact that your stress levels are rising because of your rising stress levels, can further raise your stress levels, until you’re on a self-reinforcing spiral of ever-escalating mental stress that leaves you almost wishing for a coronavirus-carrier to just drop by and say ‘achoo’.

Anyway, my point is that I don’t belong to any political party that supports the coronavirus. But we are a democracy, I am a liberal, and I believe it is the duty of every journalist to present both sides of every story. Which is why I’m devastated by the failure of my peer members to retain even a semblance of neutrality, objectivity, and balance in their coverage of the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, as it’s called. Don’t ask me who came up with that name, because who did come up with that name.

Watch | Your COVID-19 queries answered

Apex predators

I know that, as a species, we currently occupy the position once occupied by the dinosaurs. We are the apex predators. The power elite that oppresses every other life form on planet Earth. But does that mean the only perspective that exists is the human perspective? Isn’t it this very mindset that’s responsible for the massive loss of biodiversity and the whole mess of climate change? And yet, I haven’t seen a single news report or editorial or column where the writer takes into account the virus’s point of view as well.

Again, let me emphasise that I don’t endorse violence by viruses, be it against humans or other viruses. That’s the reason I’ve always condemned the well-known computer virus Agent Smith’s anti-national statements against human beings. If you’ve seen the famous three-part documentary, The Matrix, you’d know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you should. It’s the only extant documentation of the virus’s perspective on humanity.

For the benefit of those who haven’t seen the Matrix trilogy, this is what the A.I.-created virus Agent Smith says about humans: “When I tried to classify your species, I realised that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.”

Revolutionary vanguard

What if this was actually the case? Can anyone deny that our entire economic model is geared towards depleting every planetary resource? Also, ask any biologist of your choice. She’ll tell you that viruses are one of the earliest inhabitants of this planet. They were here long before the first human appeared. Not surprisingly, viruses are convinced that human beings are migrants – from another planet, and in all likelihood a planet that used to be beautiful and habitable until they gutted it, prompting the move to earth. According to my sources, as of March 2020, all non-human life forms are convinced that if humans continue to run amok — decimating forests, murdering rivers, polluting oceans — it won’t be long before either they and/ or the planet are liquidated.

What if viruses are the revolutionary vanguard of the planet’s non-human beings? What if they are the guerrilla army of Nature, battling the biggest threat to the biosphere? And what if ‘quarantine’ is just the coronavirus sending humans to detention camp? Answer this question objectively: which of the two represents a bigger threat to the greatest number of species on earth? Homo sapiens or Sars-CoV2? Now tell me: are there or are there not two sides to the COVID-19 story? Of course there are: the virus's side, and the Sars-CoV2’s side.

sampath.g@thehindu.co.in

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:10:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/the-other-side-of-the-coronavirus-story/article31058850.ece

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