The rule of his lordship “CORONAVIRUS” or COVID-19The Mongol Messenger
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. Reflection on what holds value, what not, as well as what needs to be changed and what not
It has been several months since His Lordship “Coronavirus” (COVID-19) came into power and laid down new rules. As he is unpredictable and resilient (has long incubation period and can survive on various surfaces for many days) even scientists, let alone lay people, do not have an answer to the question of how long his rule will last.
The coronavirus outbreak has introduced a new chronological demarcation of “before” and “after” COVID-19 with people starting to adapt to the new realities. His Lordship who has brought the whole of humankind and planet to their knees is simply one type of virus. Notwithstanding, the inventions of the previous industrialized era, such as weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, as well as those of a new digital era, including artificial intelligence, have all bowed their heads in defeat before the virus.
If one compares the size of all territories conquered by top ten world conquerors, including Genghis Khan, His Lordship “Coronavirus” has surpassed them all, ranking first in the world by conquering not only the earth’s entire landmass, oceans and seas, but also the entirety of the atmosphere. He has established his own rule over the planet and the global economy. The world politics with its institutions, including the NATO and United Nations with its special force represented by blue helmets as well as international laws and conventions have all proven inadequate in the face of COVID-19, forcing the countries to shift to soft diplomacy.
Social life has come to a complete halt as countries around the world implemented mass quarantines, including mandatory self-isolation at homes. People who have just recently enjoyed free movement in a borderless global community have been told to adhere to the general rule of staying at home and avoiding contact with others, free mobility being only one of the many freedoms limited.
The Lessons We Have Learnt
Despite downpours of money invested by rich countries to fight the coronavirus, it is continuing to take precious lives of people. However unintended by His Lordship “Coronavirus”, his arrival has also sparked some positive changes for the humankind. It is up to the reader to see these changes as either silver linings or opportunities that are hidden in every challenging situation. While countries around the globe have closed borders with their populations under stay-at-home orders, nature has rebounded and come back to life. The earth’s atmosphere is taking a break with even the ozone hole recovering, and animals scared away by humans retaking the possession of their habitat. In other words, we have learned that the natural law prevails over any state law, and that our planet is home not only for humans, but also for animals and all living things, for that matter.
His Lordship “Coronavirus” has reminded us that the time has come to make a transition from the Age of Mechanics to the Age of Harmony. In the Mechanical Age, the humankind has experienced a moral and ethical decline, going down the road of destruction. His Lordship “Coronavirus” has woken us up to the need to correct this mistake and enter the Age of Harmony with its high ethics and will for conciliation. The Coronavirus has urged the mankind to come up with new concepts, new order, and new initiatives. We have understood that wet markets selling wildlife, including rare animal species, need to be closed down. Bats that are highly suspected of transmitting the coronavirus to humans are still being sold on these markets. These mammals, known to harbor 130 to up to 1,400 different viruses and maintain a body temperature of +40 Celsius (their regular temperature) are compared to live weapons of mass destruction.
With its disregard for science-based education and reliance on simple solutions based on mechanics and technology as answers to every problem, the new global education system has failed the “pop quiz”. The Coronavirus has reminded us that instead of pursuing a basic education that combines science with the knowledge of mechanics, information technology, comprehensive information systems based on extensive data sets (Big Data) and artificial intelligence - all those based on the limited human capacity for achieving human development and understanding the quintessence of things and phenomena to meet the demands of modern times and society, we need to come up with a policy vision that comprehensively encompasses applied education.
Hit by COVID-19, the world has experienced a reversal from globalization to isolation accompanied by a plunge in trust in international organizations and reduced legitimate power of leading countries to manage the world liberal order. At a time when international treaties and laws designed to regulate political, economic and social relations are being breached, countries are faced with a challenge to overcome the current crisis by relying on their own domestic resources and correctly prioritizing the principal directions for action. Although it might seem that we are persevering against Lord Coronavirus by pursuing isolationist policies despite globalized economy and other global entanglements, we are mistaken. It is the countries that have correctly prioritized their interests and assembled the “Pyramid of Solidarity” that are managing to contain and fight back his invasion. However, it is early to say if they are “managing.” It would be more accurate to say that the countries that are “barely managing” to deal with COVID-19 are those that have learned on their own skins the importance of sound prioritization of interests and domestic solidarity among all stakeholders in a society – something which His Lordship “Coronavirus” has reminded us about.
Three Levels of Priorities
Life after coronavirus in terms of people’s conventional lifestyles will undergo significant changes. The change will also affect people’s system of values as they re-organize the most important priorities in their lives. The philosophy of life and existence of ancient Mongolians since the dawn of time will draw renewed interest both from local and international scholars, thereby possibly changing the existing attitudes toward Mongolians. The country’s nature and climate as well as good quality, healthy meat produced by pastoral animal husbandry, wild berries and other ecologically pure products might come into the world’s attention as valued organic foods. This is a positive, but only one potential aspect of life after coronavirus. The coronavirus will also instill in people a better appreciation of the importance of being alive. This is also a much more valuable realization for us in these current times when we are losing touch with our traditional Mongolian value of being a good human being.
The inalienable human right to life will remain as the priority in our system of values. His Lordship “Coronavirus,” however, had to pinch us to make us once again appreciate the importance of mental, spiritual, and physical health in leading dignified and quality lives. The positive side of the coronavirus outbreak is the reminder to lead healthy lifestyles, be in touch with nature, get quality sleep, have a balanced, healthy diet, exercise, meditate, free oneself from worries and pain, forget resentments, spread kindness, and be joyful, loving, compassionate and kind-hearted.
People’s consumption will become simpler and more mindful. This new attitude might not only be a solution to staying alive, but also serve as our continuing protection. They say that each human being is a unique universe that exists through a fusion of air, heat and cold in an infinite space of mental, spiritual, and bodily interplay. The mere thought of “…I might die today…” coming to mind just after waking up in the morning has the power to make us live throughout the whole day in a peaceful, balanced state of mind, discard bad habits, lead a healthy lifestyle, and restrain greed and lust, and instead be filled with love, kindness and forgiveness. Every human being has this ability to rediscover and renew themselves.
The second priority in our value system will be the right to freedom and other human rights. In a short time of self-isolation, we have experienced to the full how valuable are our rights and freedoms. Especially those who were locked down in foreign countries far away from their homes and people they love might have better appreciated the value of freedom. From this perspective, although the humankind paid a big price to His Lordship “Coronavirus,” he has taught us important life lessons in a short time, albeit the hard way. As a result, we have gained a new appreciation for being alive and having freedom, as well as for happiness that lies hidden in many small things in life.
The third in the system of our values will be happiness. The coronavirus might push us toward having a new understanding of happiness by putting an end to mindless fight for power, an addictive lust for possessions and money, hard-to-control temptation for luxury (addiction to drugs, alcohol, parties, brand products) and fleeting fancies. By now people might have well understood the overrated value of money compared to genuine values, such as having a loving family, a motherland to return to, and the freedom to “wander around” without any restrictions.
Having a strong family, a job and colleagues, sound health, good education, comfortable home, certain degree of financial independence (according to Jack Ma, if you have one million dollars you are a lucky person, but if you have ten million dollars you have many headaches), living a long life, having friends who exert positive influence (be friends with people who have human qualities and take distance from those who don’t), having good time management - all these will take a central place in our measurement of happiness and help us change for the better.
If you send yourself an occasional message that “It is good that humans don’t live forever,” your interest and lust for material things will disappear in a moment, and internal workings of your soul will come to play, bringing a deep sense of calm and serenity. This is the miracle and gift of being a human being as well as the path to a meaningful and quality life.
When Coronavirus Subsides
The countries around the world, including our country, will have to pay particular attention to the mental health of people who have been in self-isolation as well as the issue of population growth and reproduction in order to be prepared for the coronavirus baby boom. According to a survey done by the UN Population Fund, pregnancy has increased three-fold compared to last year with 500 million low- and middle-income women estimated to become pregnant.
The humankind will surely fight off the current wave of coronavirus, but we have to be prepared to protect ourselves from future outbreaks by learning the lessons from knowledge and experience accumulated so far, not allowing ourselves to relax, and continuing to move forward by implementing preventative measures, including coronavirus testing and vaccinations, and training a team of professional medical personnel. What do we need to do to achieve these objectives?
First, we have to live in harmony with our surrounding nature, trying to keep the nature’s original blueprint when using its resources, do environmental rehabilitation, and immediately stop exploration and mining activities that have damaging effects on natural ecosystems.
Second, we have to be humane and kind, keep our integrity, learn the wisdom of being loving, caring, and maintaining true friendships, learn to make compromises, stay united, and resolve all conflicts and misunderstanding through consensus-building.
Third, we need to make advancements in applied economics characterized by efficiency and environmentally friendly, high-productivity technology that would enable us to fully meet our domestic needs and pursue a unique export policy; establish a digital economy with transparency at all levels of budget aggregation, planning, spending and monitoring.
Fourth, we need to establish a safe, accessible food system based on intensive agriculture that would enable us to fully meet our domestic needs while engaging in limited exports of luxury foods; supply the population with safe and healthy food products that are free of chemical contamination and traces of veterinary medicines through the creation of an innovative system of animal health, safe soil technology, and introduction of standards to work the crop fields.
Fifth, we must shift from the current untargeted, ineffective, social welfare policy lacking evidence-base to a social protection policy, which provides incentives that support quality life.
Sixth, in addition to pursuing a policy of comprehensive mutual trust with our two “eternal” neighbors, we need to develop comprehensive partnerships within the framework of our third neighbor policy and pursue a soft diplomacy to attract geopolitical attention and economic interests of other countries, all the while putting the interests of our country and nation first.
Seventh, make a transition to a conscientious legal system based on principle of humanity and compassion that respects morality, national culture, customs and traditions as well as a sanctions regime based on wisdom and forgiveness, free from political interference and respectful of inalienable human rights.
Eighth, to be prepared for digital trade and information technology competition, we need to urgently set up a ministry that will be in charge of ensuring cyber and information safety, establishing a fully protected national information system based on big data, preventing the hacking of digital commerce and services, as well as developing and mainstreaming artificial intelligence.
Ninth, bring in the best national scholars to research and assess the country’s water reserves, food supply and independent energy sources based on which we need to urgently develop and implement a comprehensive master plan to revise and reengineer current roadmaps.
Tenth, combine modern information technology theories and methodologies with research to develop applied science and allocate a certain amount of the state budget to foster a scientific system that would support scientists and scholars through provision of financial incentives.
Eleventh, foster an application-centered educational system capable of meeting the full range of future intellectual, social, political, legal, cultural and other needs; prepare top-ranking, skilled human resources by training future scientists, policy researchers, system analysts, economic analysts, veterinaries, and specialists in big data, artificial intelligence and information technologies in the world’s best universities and by providing them with refresher and on-job trainings as well as encouraging them to produce research and scientific work.
Twelfth, promote a preventative healthcare system that provides private sector-reliant health services based on the combination of academic research, testing, practical application, diagnostics, and medical treatment, using the most advanced equipment and the most effective quality medication, employ skilled doctors and medical personnel, and is underpinned by sound health insurance scheme.
Without a doubt, the humankind and modern science will defeat COVID-19. However, it is beyond prediction if a Supercorona-20 regime will, like the G-20 regime, establish its power over the world and test our endurance again and again. Therefore, we must love our planet earth as we love our mothers, stay united, take early measures to prepare for the evident economic crisis with individuals, families, organizations and the government cutting down expenses and implementing savings accumulation policy and actions; we should analyze both anticipated processes and anti-processes, and eventually use our indigenous Mongolian wisdom of predicting, preempting and persevering.
Deputy Energy Minister
Professor of Political Science (Ph.D.)
Gantulga Tudevkhuu Besud
9 May 2020