What is the biggest threat that this planet has ever faced? Climate change? Artificial intelligence? Nuclear war? These might seem foremost in the list of things that’ll eventually bring our doom. And there’s only one factor of commonality between all of these. Us.
We once thought we were invincible. We once thought we reigned supreme. We once thought that no matter what happens, the human race had reached such a stage of technological advancement, that nothing could shake us. Any problem that we would face can be predicted, any problem that we were facing could be solved. There’s no way forward but upward.
We as a lone species have reached the top of the food chain, and at this point, it’s general knowledge that only man-made atrocities (also known as modern weapons of war, capitalisation and human greed) are capable of resulting in complete annihilation. That is, until the advent of a parasite that simply does not respect boundaries.
The one thing we hadn’t accounted for, the one thing we didn’t think could destroy us, was ourselves. Our human bodies. The way they’re built. The way they feel, the way they face danger. And here we are, one populace, waiting to repair ourselves.
But are humans the sole carriers of life?
What does it take to stop life itself?
All the various processes that keep everything living and nonliving going. That’s life, right? So stopping life would mean that this constant whirring of biochemical and physical forces starts choking, matter ceases to exist, all energy sources just suck themselves dry. Therefore, the end of everything isn’t some mutant virus with a 2% mortality rate.
Even so, the world has faced plenty of deadly pandemics before. Surely, we’ve evolved with the times, and so has our healthcare. Time to dial it down further.
Market conditions are sure to dwindle, slowly leading us towards total economic shutdown, at least for a while. Ultimately, this would lead to a significant downfall in human activity. Access to essential goods and services would become a thin string that leads our existence on. Communities would start becoming modules of interdependency, households would form webs of collaboration for survival, and individuals would live their lives in the remnants of the materialistic world we know.
And once this is over, if this is over, what will be the new ‘normal’? Can this slice of life just disappear into thin air? It seems too great an entity to do so. Sure, the globe will keep spinning. Sure, the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. And, if we can shake hands again, go to our favourite restaurants again, travel to new places again, will we remember? Will we remember that at one point, we were confined to these four walls we now sit within? Will we remember that the virtual realm of life outside these walls was all we had? Will we remember that, in solidarity, we chose to protect the future we now hold as the present?
And there it is again. Why do we separate ourselves, homo sapiens, from the rest of the living beings on this planet?
How is it that we, as part of a planet, have stopped regarding the other inhabitants as equals? Early man used to ask forgiveness from his prey before gutting them. Now, he makes their lives a living hell just because he can.
And if anyone thinks this self-isolation is bad, then they’re clearly not aware of how deep the rabbit hole of humanity’s destructive tendencies can go. So let’s re-evaluate the possible outcomes. What is the most WE can afford to lose? Human economy? Human nature? Human life?
If this is just the beginning of nature’s way of balancing the ecology, then we need to be prepared for a gradual onslaught which may bring the end of OUR time.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time for us to go extinct. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, and maybe we’ll never know. But the reason for the instability of the Earth’s intra-planetary equilibrium is because of our prolonged and brutal dominance over every other living and non-living thing.
And if our end is the only way to restore the planet’s vitality, then we really should learn to prioritise life. And to prioritise life, one starts treasuring the little things in life. Stop to smell the roses. Hug family goodbye and make their day. Feed that stray dog that always looks at food longingly. Realize that no number of visits back home can be too many. Smile at that neighbour who loves clashing pans together on her balcony. Listen carefully to hear the birds again. Breathe, because we can, because our being is free to.
Don’t let this revelation disappear. Don’t let this dawn fade. Don’t let the dark colours of pride cloud this rainbow of thought. WE, a million varieties of billions of creatures, need to sustain each other. And as a human alone, I never know best.
Who knows if giant meatballs won’t start falling from the sky? Who knows that the dinosaurs won’t return someday? Who knows that the Earth won’t spontaneously combust into glitter? Who knows that I won’t be picked up by a UFO and taken to a different solar system? And now you’re thinking, this is all impossible because it’s a little crazy. But did you ever think there would be a time when a tiny virus would collectively cancel the immediate future, for the entire world? Did you ever think that the term ‘ quarantine’ would become a trending thing?
For one, I never thought that I would have to receive my meals in a sealed chamber, to have to watch the world go by through a sterilized window. I never thought I would pick up something so terrifyingly contagious that even my very breath could be a threat to the human race. I never thought that my body would succumb to such a powerful weakness. I never thought that any day might be my last, so soon. I never thought that I would become a mere statistic, an addition to the case count that would build fear among the people.
I never thought that you being next to me right now would put you at risk too.
And I never ever thought I would have to say goodbye.
That I would have to bid farewell to something that has played such an important role to my character, such a prominent part of my life.
Life, in the greater sense, will go on. Without me, without all of us. As it has continued to do so for millennia. However, the one thing that remains untouched by the decay of life itself is life, itself. Because life isn’t about just a materialistic thing. It’s the largest of concepts and the highest of endeavours. It’s certainly the greatest idea of all time. And ideas, as we all know, are the most contagious.
I know I will be missed. But there are so many more things to do, feelings to feel, achievements to encounter. And as long as I’m remembered by you, I have truly lived my best.
So blaze the path ahead and carry the torch forward with the fire of creativity burning bright. Don’t let the spark within you die out, reignite it with innovation and teamwork. And when you’re warming your hands near the flames, let the heat of our times gone by, spur you on.
And don’t ever forget the most important part of it all. We’re here for a good fucking time, and not a long fucking time.
Head of Writing
Mahia De Sylva & Sanjay Kumar for MTTN (#onelasttime)