Monday, September 20, 2021

Lidasan: What Covid-19 can teach us

Al Iqra

ONE of the first things Covid-19 reminded as a Muslim was the basic teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), which started over 1,300 years ago, was to practice good hygiene and quarantining during a pandemic. Prophet Muhammad was not a doctor or an expert on matters of deadly diseases, but nonetheless, he had sound advice to prevent and combat such matters.

The prophet said, "If you hear of a plague in a land, do not enter therein. If it befalls a land and you are in it, then do not go out of it." (Al-Bukhaari: 5728, Muslim: 2218)

This is timely information, as the Department of Health has reported 1,546 cases of confirmed Covid-19 with a death toll of 78 as of March 31, 2020. Our government has put all of Luzon, including Metro Manila, under an "enhanced community quarantine" until April 12, 2020. This was done alongside LGU checkpoints and other containment and mitigation measures, such as suspension of flights from high-risk economies, restrictions on mass gathering, and school closures throughout the regions in the country.

In our current situation, how long must we apply enhanced community quarantine? Given the fact that the vaccine for Covid-19 may take at least eight months to one year for it to be applied as a global immunization program. This will affect the political, social, and economic conditions of our country.

The past few weeks have been a stunning experience for all of us to adjust our daily routines to take safety precautions to protect ourselves, family, and community.

While I stay at home, spend time with my family and also continue working, I spend most of the time reflecting on how systems in our office in the Ateneo de Davao University and in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority must undergo large-scale transformation to adapt and make fundamental changes to existing ways of working.

The Al Qalam Institute of the Ateneo de Davao University has been reflecting on this along with our partner communities. It is truly difficult to change the system. We always try to find the best answers in how to sustain peace and development in Mindanao and the Barmm. Finding these answers are not that easy.

Take for example the issue of higher educational institutions adapting to online platforms. Fr. Joel Tabora, in his recent blog, wrote "...during the disruptive COVID 19 national emergency, colleges and universities have no choice but to operate online. The Department of Health, thankfully, has mandated physical distancing, and national agencies and local governments are supporting this, CHED included. For higher educational institutions the only way of operating today is online."

This was in response to the petition of student governments of the Ateneo de Manila University (Admu), University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila, and University of Santo Tomas (UST) submitted to CHED concerning the transitioning to e learning. The students believe that "...while we understand the need for learning to continue, the different circumstances of students across universities are not ideal and conducive for such".

Jack Welch said: "If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near." Our world is continuously rapidly changing. Many of us are out of sync with the external rate of change. We rely on the old paradigm of how things work. We focus on maintaining the status quo.

We have to adapt. We have to understand that a few months from now, or even a year from now, things may no longer be the same. As Isaac Asimov puts it, "It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be... this, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking."


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