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Message in new, post COVID-19 ways

By Victoria Ngozi Ikeano

After months of lockdown during which nature seemingly had a free reign outside, undisturbed by the inconsiderate actions of human beings, nations are now easing up, gradually permitting outdoor activities once more.  However, this is accompanied with some regulations on how we should more or less comport ourselves when in a public space.  This is now referred to as the ‘new normal’, post COVID-19  way of doing certain things. Thus, without our consciously knowing it, the coronavirus pandemic has enforced some new behavoural patterns on us, stripping us of some of our bad habits while teaching us some good lessons. For example, our former ways of greeting each other like, handshakes, kissing, hugging, etc., is giving way to, elbowing, bowing, courtesying, nodding, etc. 

   Hugging, kissing or pecking between opposite sexes as is done by leaders at international meetings, when welcoming high profile guests, between other persons at other times who are not intimately linked is wrong. Even for the latter it is wrong to so behave in public Hugging, kissing, pecking between opposite sexes could engender some physical feeling between both and with it some similar thoughts. And though we may say it did not result to any physical deed,  the fact that either of them could be nursing such thoughts notwithstanding that their outward appearance is irreproachable is a defilement already.  It is best to avoid this kind of behavior altogether by quashing  any opportunity for such. And this coronavirus has helped the world to do so by bringing it about naturally – now no more hugging, kissing, pecking in public at least.

  Same goes for night clubs which operate mainly in the night and which many countries, including Nigeria are not allowing to operate as yet after the lockdown. An overnight curfew is already in place nationwide. We are admonished not to mix day and night time activities – work during the hours of work and rest during the hours of rest. Night clubs  are alive throughout the night. By so doing they are going against the natural order which would not be without consequences for you cannot cheat Nature. Its operators and patronizers seek to restore the distorted balance by taking medicines/drugs, to bring about the needed balance in their body mechanism. This can only offer temporary solution which over a long time of indulgence could lead to addiction.  And then, there are the physical and ethereal excrescences that are sprouted at these night clubs and their likes all of which hovering in the atmosphere like clouds, attract similar forms that sooner or later influence  some weak individuals. They are not altogether inculpable in the incidences of rape of both adults and minors that now pervade our society. When you ask rapists how it happened they often tell you that a thought about doing it came upon them, seized them and then they actualized it, often blaming their misdeed on the ‘devil’. These are the ones that are not strong enough, rather weak and undisciplined to resist the hovering thought-forms that hit them. 

    It is a measure of our moral decadence that we have sunk so low as no longer able to know shame. And women are the most guilty as we are the first to overstep, go overboard, beyond bounds. See how many  women now dress- elevating nakedness to fashion.  Parts of our bodies-breasts, laps, etc- are exposed without any iota of shame or a whimper of disapproval by society, all in the name of fashion. Infact such dressing is considered as the normal way in celebrity circles and others while covering up from head to toe is seen as abnormal dressing among them. Woe betide us….  Would it  take another pandemic to naturally neutralize night clubs and their ilk as well as restore moral rectitude in us?…..  

   In the current COVID-19 pandemic wearing of face masks has become a norm that may be with us for quite a while together with physical distancing at work places and public places. The mask is symbolically teaching us the virtue of silence, that we should talk less, talking only when it is necessary, avoid gossips and slander. The temptation to gossip, engage in loud, effusive inanities that pass for conversations and that add no lasting value to the talking parties as such is greater when people are  gathered in a mass  than when they are separated  as the new social distancing regulations require of us. The mask is like closing our mouths, it does not give free reign to our mouths so to speak. We are admonished by the great Teacher, Jesus, ‘Let your communication be yea or nay for whatever else cometh of this is evil’. In other words we should talk only when, where and how it is necessary. That is what closing of our mouth with face mask and social distancing are symbolically trying to imbue in us.

    Yet another lesson from this coronavirus  is how we eat. Locked up at home for months with no work, money scarce amidst rising cost of foodstuff, the pandemic has forced us to eat sparingly. Only very few people  have three square meals these days, the majority of us eat only once or at best, twice daily. The lesson therein is that we should eat only when we are hungry. Food is meant to quench  hunger not for enjoyment per se as we have turned it to be. For those living in the hinterlands or other places where fruits are readily available and accessible at cheap prices they have come in handy for warding off hunger. Perhaps we are being taught to eat more of natural food like fruits and less of solid food. 

   In southeast Nigeria where literally more money is spent  burying the dead by way of funeral obsequies than when he/she was living with us, things are changing for the better, shall we say thanks to coronavirus? The Catholic church has rolled out new rules for funeral rites. According to a circular by Archbishop AJC Obinna of Owerri Diocese, they include the following,  ‘the deceased will be taken from the mortuary straight to the church for the reception and holy mass; there will be no lying in state in the family house; blowing or blarring of sirens is prohibited; no external dance  should accompany the ambulance; there will be no more than 50 persons in the church in order to maintain social distancing; the funeral requiem mass will not last more than 70 minutes with no more than 10 minutes homily; all should wear face masks and wash their hands; there will be no more funeral oration. A member of the family will be allowed to express the family thanks in no more than three minutes; there will be no more condolence collection’. 

    In the other safety measures as regular washing of hands, keeping our environment clean and our maintaining personal hygiene, which should become a way of life for us, coronavirus, ebola and lassa fever are imbibing in us the truth that cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Victoria Ngozi Ikeano a journalist writes from Lafia via vikeano@ 08033077519

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