Not always bad to be a follower or put another way, Covid-19 could be good news ©

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By Dr Beba Papakyriakou (PhD) (Psychology)

They say there are three sides to every story, and I have advocated elsewhere there are three sides to every coin as well – heads, tails, and rim.  Put differently, positive, negative, and the bit in between.  Humans are powerful.  We can align with any side. We can focus on the positive only and stumble on the negative we deny exists; we can focus on the negative only and devastate our lives regardless of, say, the presence or absence of the imposing Covid-19. Or we can focus on the bits in between where we acknowledge the bad and the serious, look for the good and the light-hearted, and resolve to work for healthy outcomes rather than wage war against a perceived enemy. 

At least three men, world leaders, uttered the words “war” and “enemy” about the latest crisis on our collective doorsteps.  No surprises there – boys bring out their big guns and seek to blast through problems.  For their part, women are formidable, strong, multi-dimensional, capable, and intelligent and could add other things to the need for healthy outcomes.  Globally, together we can – and will – get through this new nuisance in our lives that is serious, brings heartache, inconvenience, and upheaval.

We can buy into the panic and see the end of the world in the dark cloud overhead; we can continue on our destructive path involving self-absorption, superficiality, divisiveness, one-upmanship, and ugliness, and thus ensure the impact of the virus stays with us a lot longer than the virus itself.  We can put blinkers on, refuse to adhere to the advice of the experts, flout the new rules of social engagement, disregard basic hygiene, continue our hedonistic lifestyle and look for scapegoats for all our problems.  

Or we could become accountable, take personal responsibility, and all become leaders in our own lives and in the lives of those we cherish.  We could acknowledge that scary as Covid-19 is, we are not powerless.  It is a dark cloud, but even clouds dissipate in time.  The hectic pace of our lives has slowed down, and we could use the time to reflect, to be more considerate, to acknowledge and validate the people in our lives, and to make peace with reality. And we could choose not to be defined by the crisis but calmly to find ways over, under, and around the big boulder on the road. 

We must not lose hope – life is full of surprises, I heard somewhere.  Alibaba’s chief is sending us much-needed medical supplies for free; Venice has clear canals; opponents and world leaders are working together on a common problem.  Curiously it has unified the world.  In South Africa, it has shifted our focus from the debilitating load-shedding, and a miracle has occurred:  somehow we suddenly have uninterrupted electricity. 

Let’s find or retain our sense of humour. Let’s focus on counting our blessings wherever we find them, and if we can see no blessings, let’s try to find just one positive thing and embrace that.  Let’s improve our hygiene and our inter-personal relationships even if we cannot sit within spitting distance of others for now.  Let’s find different ways to connect, e.g. the Italians in lockdown are singing on their balconies, and John Legend is providing us with a free concert to liven our spirits. 

We in South Africa can be so thankful that our geographical location at the tip of Africa has shielded us from much global trouble and that we have had the benefit of being forewarned regarding Covid-19.  We can also be thankful for the prompt, decisive, responsible actions by those in power in South Africa and around the world implementing best practices learned from one another.  Now is the time to realise we are all in this together, and if we cooperate, we will prevail.

We may not all be elected world leaders. But if each of us did our part in our little way, we would contribute to the outcome of the impact of the virus – we can either allow it to decimate us or to make us stronger, wiser, kinder.

© Dr Beba (X M) Papakyriakou asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.  The idea and concept of this work are original, including the “Three-sided Coin”, and the intellectual property rights vest in the author and may not be utilised by anyone without the author’s written consent. This material is for information and entertainment purposes only.  

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