We are up for a major shift and I’m certain that we are going to be more ‘humane’ than ever, forever!
Being a human centered design practitioner, I don’t see it any other way!
Before the lockdown, I had already spent two weeks in self-imposed quarantine, after returning from my business trip. This is my seventh running week in social isolation and to tell you the truth, I’m loving what’s been coming along.
Not long ago, I was a student at NID Ahmedabad (1999-2002), and experienced the Gujarat earthquake and the Gujarat riots the year after. In the first case, there was uncertainty for a small period, but the experience was the opposite of what I physically experience today: We were asked to stay out of buildings and as a community, we used to sleep in the nights in our lawns. We flocked together to help each other, we ate together and slept together! Travel in and out of Gujarat was disrupted but it was for a much shorter period and it was a problem local to a particular region. While our campus was up for a 4-6 months renovation, we were all sent to our homes and a few of us interned. We made the most of uncertain times as the industry rose to the occasion to help design students with internships.
A year later, as Gujarat riots unfolded, I was already out of the campus and was sheltered tentatively outside our main campus while looking for graduate internship and a job. I had for the first-time experienced section 144 and as students, it was almost like our community was killed! We would otherwise go for our lunch and dinner in large groups. It was a very hard choice to make, selecting 3 out of some 10-12 friends to go out with. This lasted a little over a couple of months!
Covid is different:. Due to their definite physical manifestations, every other crisis was limited, short lived and largely, local. By virtue of it being invisible, Covid seems unlimited, permanent and widespread.
• COVID lacks a physical form, unlike the earthquake, war or a riot. Lack of this physical form makes it an invisible and an unlimited enemy to those who are attacked and a threat to those who aren’t. The way we, as humans have by and large come to a common understanding of the evil without a form is incredibly unbelievable!
• While on one hand, we have widespread uncertainty and devastation by the invisible force, on the other, we have a visible shift in how we have come together as communities, citizens and humans. A visible certainty that has come together virtually, to fight the invisible uncertainty. If this is our destiny, it is a very good destiny!
What is more significantly different is that, Covid has definitely brought me closer to the human side of the ‘community’. The community of the people who live around me, the community of those who deliver essentials during the lockdown, the community of the colleagues in my company and the group; and the larger community of the world that wants to come out of this. It is certainly a very different crisis than any other crisis I had experienced before, in that it has unlimited power to change us, for good!
There is a certain kind of certainty in this uncertainty: That I, as a person would have become much more human than before and that we, as a society would have become much more empathetic and compassionate than ever before.
What is clear to me is, “The enemy that we are fighting is not Covid… the enemy is the world that ran by a different set of rules of engagement”. We are up for a major shift and I’m certain that we are going to be more ‘humane’ than ever, forever!
The author is founder and CEO of Think Design, which is part of the Havas Group.