Author`s name Sawraj Singh

Coronavirus may help revive traditional human values

One likely outcome of the coronavirus pandemic can be that eastern values are going to prevail over western values. The world most likely will not be the same. In the last two centuries, which can be called the western dominated centuries, western values prevailed over eastern values. However, the coronavirus pandemic has proved that the eastern countries handled the crisis better than the western countries. The division between the eastern and the western values is arbitrary. The real division should be between the traditional or established human values and the consumerist values of capitalism. For example, before the last two centuries of domination of capitalism, Christianity laid the foundation of the Western civilization. Capitalism has not only changed these values, it has actually reversed them. By doing this, it has pushed the western countries into a moral and spiritual crisis.

If we look at the Christian values and the traditional eastern values, then we understand that they are very much alike. Christianity preached moderation, austerity, humility, sharing and forgiveness. These are exactly the same qualities which are considered the ideal qualities in a person by the eastern civilizations. Therefore, in the last analysis, the east and the west have revered the same human values.

However, consumerism of capitalism has turned these values upside down. Extravagance, arrogance, selfishness, greed and revenge are the hallmarks of capitalism. Both Christianity and the eastern values revere peace, tranquility, harmony and stability as opposed to the constant agitated, aggressive and wandering state of mind induced by consumerist capitalism.

The traits considered negative and undesirable by Christianity and traditional eastern values were zealously promoted by consumerist capitalism and these reached their peak in the present globalization, which is economic only globalization and lacks any ethical aspect or universal perspective. In this globalization, greed of the capitalists reached its peak. To fully exploit the cheap labor from anywhere in the globe, the capitalists have kept on bringing people at a rate much faster than the societies can assimilate them. Capitalism promoted human mobility and mixing to a level which is unprecedented in the human history. This phenomenon has contributed to the present coronavirus pandemic.

Selfishness and greed of capitalists are also responsible for a large number of illegal immigrants and homeless people. This makes it difficult to enforce any strict discipline in these societies and pushes these societies toward chaos and anarchy. This situation contributed to the poor performance of these countries in controlling the coronavirus pandemic. 

Capitalism has incited arrogance in Western countries. People in Western countries consider themselves to be superior to other peoples. The arrogance reaches its peak in America. However, arrogance leads to ignorance, and humility is associated with knowledge. According to the traditional human values, humility is the greatest quality in a person whereas arrogance is the biggest vice. Coronavirus pandemic has validated this traditional wisdom. Because of their arrogance, the western countries failed to learn from the experience of the Asian countries in dealing with this pandemic. The report card is out on how a country performed in the pandemic. Many Asian countries got an A; most of the western European countries got a C, while America got an F.

Another big problem of Western countries is extreme individualism and lack of any collective perspective. The traditional value systems have strongly emphasized to put collective interests above individual interests. The western capitalists have reversed this concept. This factor played a big role in the poor performance of the western countries in handling this pandemic.

The traditional value systems promoted the concepts of introspection and constructive self criticism. However, the western capitalist countries, particularly America, always try to blame others for their faults. America is blaming China and the WHO rather than admitting its own faults and mistakes in dealing with the pandemic. America had plenty of time to prepare to deal with the pandemic. However, it seems that it did very little to effectively handle the situation.

This resulted in America not only becoming the epicenter of the pandemic but also having the dubious distinction of having the largest number of cases as well as the largest number of deaths in the world.

The western capitalist countries do not believe in the virtue of sharing. They only know how to take from others rather than give something to others. Russia, China and Cuba shared their resources with Italy, the worst affected European country. America has forced India to give it the drug chloroquine, which it feels will help it to treat the coronavirus. However, millions of Indians who were taking it to control their symptoms of diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus are finding it difficult to get the drug which they have been taking for years.  

We hope that the coronavirus pandemic may force people to think that Western capitalist consumer culture has taken away their traditional human values which were the product of collective experience of our people over the centuries. Consumerism has taken away what was the best in our culture and values. Capitalism and the modern Western civilization based upon it are going through a very deep crisis. We find ourselves in a situation very much like the Roman Empire before its collapse. Coronavirus may give it the final push. Rome was overrun by the Barbarians. However, the present western civilization will be replaced by the older and more evolved and established civilizations like those of China, India and Russia. The best thing which may happen is that we become humans again from consumers.