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What can Covid Man learn from the Child of War?

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

We all know it’s over. One of the toughest years in recent history is fading.

We all have mixed feelings.

Memories of 2020 are still very fresh. Or should I say thoughts of the present times as ‘it’ is still with us? Its presence is everywhere. You can feel it in the breeze. The wind is carrying its echo through the world. What happened to us exactly? Will we ever really know?

Life has changed, that’s for sure. People around the globe are still recovering from the shock that impacted their loved ones, their jobs, their way of living. One of the worst science-fiction scenarios happened. Not to someone else, not to some other continent or country, to all of us. And that’s the most terrible thing of all. We realized we are all vulnerable. Privileged and others not so much. Rich and poor.

Society learned how to behave when something is happening far away. Just put some nice comments on the social network. Digitally empathize. It's tough ‘out there’. ‘This world is crazy'. But now comments are not helping. Small talk is not helping.

Who to talk to, when you are locked down and isolated? It is you and me now. All.

So living through these past months was tough for me also. I think uncertainty was the most challenging part. As I like to plan things by my very nature I learned that this ‘one’ doesn’t care about my plans. Also many thought that modern technology will make us safe.

Think again.

Even with the vaccine out in a shorter time than predicted, our way of living will be irreversibly changed going forward. And that is also impacting health. Mind and soul of humanity.

So how will 2021 be like? It’s hard even to imagine how tomorrow will look like with constantly changing rules governments are forcing on us. Thinking about next year got me also reflecting about pre-covid time and state of the human condition in general.

Tempo of daily life progressively increased in the past few decades and brought about many challenges. We are constantly occupied by to-do lists and loads of useless information that is being thrown at us.

Our generations are raised on noise and multi-tasking. Group mentality and conformism is cherished over individual critical thinking. For every distinctive, special attitude now we have groups and trends created to match and label it, with a Borg-like imperative to assimilate.

Constant pressure to achieve more with less has created the ultimate goal for modern man. Faster, better, harder and more. We need to win and get more. Win against whom?

Get more of what? And where are we going in the end? How good is here and now, compared to where we want to go? Logically someone should get some benefit from all this hassle. So much effort. Somehow I don’t see myself getting it.

At the same time there is an interesting phenomena going on in parallel. Lack of humility and empathy in human relations. People seemed to forget what it really means. These are now words with no substance.

Only hashtags. We don’t really listen to others anymore. There are so many things we want to say in each conversation but we don’t actually listen. Just try to remember a moment when you actually actively listened to the person on the other side, without thinking at the same time what you wanted to say. We are trying hard to make a point, always. There is no time, we say. ‘Life’s short.’ Is that so?

How could we have time when we always have some self enforced goal, which seems to be mysteriously slipping through our hands.

So then again thinking about Covid we can at least say we finally got ‘it’.

We got time.

Time given allowed me to remember the old days. Not always the things I wanted to. One of those long winter evenings during lock down I was blowing out the Christmas candle when out of the sudden it hit me. Smell of dying candle smoke always brings back memories of war. But somehow in a comforting way. Almost like candles were beacons of hope, light and warmth in the darkness of war. At least to a child they were.

I still remember those black nights without electricity. Those 90’s were strange times when few words were said in dimly lit rooms. Old and young were all sitting together and shared stories. Some great and some absurd, but funny. And we children were listening.

What else to do when you cannot play and you are too scared to go to sleep, knowing that bombing is not over for the night. We knew. We knew and saw much more than we were supposed to, at that age.

People were scared and hungry, but people were like one. Feeling of unity was always in the air. And humility and gratefulness were our daily routine. As kids we lived our biggest adventure ever. And in reality, it was more like a horror movie. But still adventurous. I was reading a lot of western and adventure books. I read whatever I could find.

And that's when my comic books fascination was born as well.

We didn't need to imagine much. It was happening to us. We just built worlds on top of it. And I don't remember being much scared, at least not for myself. Fear was usually there when parents were not around.

Parents out, fear is in. Also people got adjusted to it, to experience extreme uncertainty and lack of normal atmosphere. That was our ‘new normal’ back then. It's strange how you get used to things easily. My sense of imagination and feeling of spiritual unity is coming from those years. Feeling of connection with other people.

After this candle was done, my mind was going in many directions. I realized soon that we all have a capacity inside to carry us over most frightened and difficult times.

I thought, what is this child telling me now? How can a boy who spent childhood in war Sarajevo reach out to an older man living today? Can he remind him how to live his life, even if the next years will be unpredictable and tough? Of course he can. You don't need time travel for this. We just sometimes tend to forget our past struggles and what we learned, as happy days are easier to extract from our brain library. It is necessary to respect hard times for what they can do for us in the future. As childhood is the time of growth and inspiration, free spirit and play, we need to accept new times and situations as opportunities to grow.

We need to learn how to accept the fact that we live ‘now.’ Prepare for the future yes, but live ‘for’ the now. Awakening the inner child will make us more adaptable and able to learn how we would need to behave in the uncertain future.

We are indeed living in unprecedented times.

And that is not because there were no deadly viruses and planet disasters before. It is because now we are being reminded more often about our struggle. Every hour, thousand times more intensively and from more sources we learn about what consequences this pandemic might potentially have for global health, societies, economy, culture and future of our children. And that is just something the conscious mind finds overwhelming and hard to live with. It is the time to learn how to live more independently from social media. Also the future might be even brighter than we are imagining now as it might teach us all humility, consciencessness and kindness.

This is the time that could define us. What we do today will mean a lot tomorrow.

Become responsible individuals. Being free is not only being able to travel, go to restaurants and socialize. It is also about thinking freely and being flexible to live a life the best we can at the moment in time. Ideal life situation was never on the menu actually. We don’t think often about it, but in reality, even before pandemic, we lived ‘acceptable’ lives which are modeled for us by big corporations and governments. So don’t just blindly accept the ‘new normal’ that big media are throwing at us. You design your own life and you set the rules of what is that ‘new normal’ for you. Definition is our to interpret. Also use time given to learn something new. Read some old book for a change. Get a new hobby. Exercise more often.

We also tend to complain a lot. You all heard it. ’I can’t go to the cinema!’ ‘We cannot go shopping!’ ’I haven’t seen my friends for months!’

’This is unbearable!’ ’My freedom is taken away from me!’

How would each day look like if we concentrated on what we 'can' do instead?

So how will Post-Covid women and men live and engage? How will our children get their education in future? Will they be incentivized by the system to focus on distant learning mostly? There will be more difficult moments and disruptive situations in the future of human civilization. We need to start building our capacity to deal with change inside us. So whatever happens to us, we can be prepared.

We can survive it. Humanity went through many crises and survived by evolving. As species we developed slowly and now technology and new ways of living in the digitized world are pushing us to evolve quicker. But again it is up to us how we will accept it and deal with it internally. Accept it or not, it is there. So the question is not ‘if’, but ‘how’ we will accept it. Learning to live your ‘own’ life is the new task for humanity. It was never so urgently needed as now. As the world gets faster, we need to learn how to get ‘slower' as our soul depends on it. Choose to be present over being hyper-informed. Reflect more, engage actively in your life and dare to dream more.

It's not about the threat of the virus alone. Both directly and not, a pandemic will pave the peculiar way how we live and work tomorrow. New future has been in preparation for a while.

Beside general health there are many other factors which will be heavily influencing the quality of life. Obvious one is economic factor. Many businesses have disappeared and many are still vanishing which caused disruption on the global supply and demand of products and services we consume. We will be paying more to get the same level of quality, or even lower level, than we used to. New monopolies will emerge from those who were fast to react to new conditions. Job market will change also as new times and products will need new types of CVs. The way we work has rapidly evolved even before pandemic to a more flexible one, however now could completely move to virtual space for office workers. One thing leads to another and the real estate market might be focusing a lot on private office apartments instead of projects for corporate shared offices. We all learned to work from home, even companies which never had this option before. However, the opportunity of not needing a physical space to operate, might allow even non-tech companies to invest in hiring people around the globe. This might be positively impacting the labour markets but changing the landscape of labour migrations and movement of people.

Pandemic crizes got big corporations into thinking what innovations can actually help the new world in becoming, so we can expect many new markets to be born along the way. We might be doing things differently than before. How we shop, travel and spend our free time already changed. In a way this period was a great test phase for many businesses to see how people behave in real time crises.

Here you go, a new product is ready for you in 2021.

Society showed a great capacity for adaptation, as it always has. What we should worry about is that establishment in power doesn’t care much about our souls.

Do we really want to work, socialize, eat and live confined only in our beautiful, shiny, techy apartments? Is it normal for our children not to smile and play with each other face to face and instead attend virtual classes? Of course not! While all innovations we see might be useful, they should not be there to serve their own purpose. Future might hold a dystopian flavour for human interactions. Mere thought about this sends shivers through my spine. Human contact might be a luxury.

Restaurants might be doing only special nights for a selected few. You can always order delivery with a discount, right? Bands will be playing live only in special conditions for extra charge. You can stream live, don’t you? We have virtual museum tours already.

Not to even mention cinemas. Entertainment industry has been digitized a long time ago. Long distance travelling was difficult enough since 9/11 and now could become even harder with vaccination passports.

And what about our young ones. Our hopes. Projections of brighter days and our unfulfilled dreams. Would they be deprived of emotions due to lack of proper physical contact? Would we need families as structures anymore? Trend of seemingly self conscious individuals free to make their minds is turning even now into groups of followers on some social network page. New generations are forming tribe-like groups based on no-need-for-structure values, but where any attempt of critical thought is being canceled. Are we going back to tribal times, where only group thinking was acceptable?

And this is happening now. With less physical contact and lack of real shared moments, what could we expect in future? I am wondering if the evolution of humanity is actually meant to be like this.

Maybe this is inevitable. Closed circle of development, with some added ingredients on top.

I believe there are at least two things, which will be of crucial importance in the next period for each one of us. Capacity for inner change and for creativity, how to invent your own new normal and learn to adapt and maintain your psychic health. Not to blindly accept everything which is being served as the only alternative, but also to be reasonable and open for new things. A balanced approach is the priority.

No matter how many discouraging thoughts we might be having as this year is closing, we need to remember that we can learn from our current experience.

December 21st this year was a day when we experienced the darkest night in the 2020 on the northern hemisphere. Winter solstice marked more than 77 million global Covid cases.

This was a moment when we were farthest away from our life giving source, the sun. Also from that moment, each passing minute our world shines brighter, as we are travelling to 2021.

Each new day brings more light.

Sun died on this day to prepare for its rebirth. The very moment when light appears in the morning is the hope we all need, to continue being who we are.

So it is in that very moment that we believe in each other the most, when all other lights are fading. We too die and rise again like the old father of the world.

This will all be yesterday one day, but we need to appreciate lessons learned. And in the same way my War Child supported me now, our Covid Man might help the Man of the Future. Crisis, chaotic times and challenges will not go away after Covid is over. And we still need to live. As this is the only world we have.

For now.

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