A month ago, while I was travelling down the hills of Darjeeling, I found myself stuck under heavy rainfall. I had grown up in the hills but my two friends were visiting the place for the first time. As our car rolled down the serpentine road, I stared out into the rains. “I don’t like rains”, one of them said while trying to make herself more comfortable in the middle seat of a TATA SUMO car. “Oh, but I love them!” I exclaimed immediately. This was quite odd, because I never really liked rains when I was young. They flooded the fields and streets with mud and dirt, and I could not go out to play. I always liked being outside. So why did I say such a thing, I started wondering? Soon enough it dawned on me. I did not like the rains, but the clear skies that followed were my favourite. I loved the smell of fresh air as I walked on wet grass and looked at the furthest of hills – which were normally not always visible. The dark rainy days unlocked these vibrant skies, and I found my love for nature in these very moments.
Now we are living in such dark days, and it is pouring down with rain all over. Yet, no matter how dark the present is, a bright, blissful future always awaits right around the corner. I’ve always seen it! At times like these, I draw love and hope from this future. That is the secret behind my optimism. If you do not believe me, I urge you to look outside your window, beyond the fears that surround you, and ask yourself whether you can perhaps already see some small signs of that future.
The past few days have cleared my doubts about this question. Nature has shown resilience. Animals are taking over spaces that we thought belonged solely to us humans. Air in some of the most polluted parts of China is so clear, experts say that it may bring potential health benefits, “although any gains due to a drop in pollution are set against the toll taken by the coronavirus outbreak”. While all this is currently a product of human abstain, wouldn’t it be possible to have the same without the great costs that the current time incurs on us?
There is also a global reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere – an experiment at an unprecedented scale, that shall give us a peek into a potential future which is based on data and not mere speculations. What can we learn from the present that can teach us how to lower our carbon footprints? The planet that we wish to leave for the next generation can be one without them having to breathe poison.
Today I’m not just optimistic about nature, but about people as well. As governments realise some of the flaws in their administration – which had been overlooked for long – they are taking actions to correct them. The COVID-19 disease is caused by a corona virus that had originated in bats and the current outbreak is thought to have originated from a so-called “wet” market in Wuhan. Wet markets are open trade places for endangered wild fauna and farmed species. As species are traded both alive and dead, such places – coupled with severe unhygienic practices – provide a dangerous, unnatural interface between humans and wildlife. China and Vietnam are both hotspots for such markets, providing potential grounds for virulent outbreaks. Governments today are keen to rethink and revise their current policies around the environment and public health with an example being China. As conservationists, we now have an opportunity to catalyse change in this area.
While bad times go away sooner or later, they teach us important lessons. Some even provide us with opportunities to do things we would have never done before. Haven’t we all felt guilty of immersing ourselves too much into work, unable to provide time for our friends and family? Well, this is the opportunity to change things. This is the time to create memories for your children that they will look back upon and smile. It is a time to bond and say out loud what you always thought you would one day, but haven’t so far. And think how important it is to learn how to smile in gloomy days like these, to help strengthen yourself and your children and make them unbreakable. How important of a time are we living in!
Yes, tomorrow when times are better, the industries will go back on and everyone will return to their daily routines. Tomorrow, animals might be reduced to small pockets again. Tomorrow our balconies may be covered in dust again. But tomorrow may also be one where governments continue their actions to save the planet. Tomorrow may also be one when fallen hopes rise again and where movements of change gather on the streets. Tomorrow people may fight for a better future because they won’t want to face the current atrocities again. Tomorrow, we might have more of what we lack as a society today. Tomorrow may bring peace and love. And that is worth living for today!