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The Pandemic As A Welcome Lesson In Humility

The coronavirus crisis has been stressful and tedious. But it's also a reminder that we can't have everything we want, when we want it. And that, in many ways, is a good thing.

The pandemic also offers some benefits.
The pandemic also offers some benefits.
Ignacio Zuleta Lleras


What a drag. It's so exhausting. I can't take it any more. These are the kinds of everyday complaints that come with the pandemic, and they're understandable, because here in Bogota — and in London, Delhi and everywhere else — the situation really is an energy drain.

Toxic emotions currently occupy considerable space in our minds. We find it hard to concentrate, and become pessimistic and listless. The body becomes confused as regular cycles are broken: We can't sleep properly, maybe grind our teeth at night. As a species, we're fighting to adapt.

But while this situation fuels negative thoughts as part of the way we process data in life, it also brings some marvelous novelties, not the least of which is uncertainly, which can actually be a blessing in disguise.

We're used to a certain "I want and I will" approach to life, and right now that's just not possible. And because this society of instant gratification is allergic to patience and ill-trained to accept frustrations, it panics when it cannot control events. That in itself is exhausting.

In reality, even those who have the dubious privilege of being able to work remotely will find it hard to keep regular hours as the lines between work and home life are blurred. We must care for the family, cook or tend to the home while facing the implacable reality of work on a screen, and this is especially the case with working women. Effectively they undertake three minimal working days in a day, with no labor code to protect them from overwork or exhaustion.

In the absence of a basic universal income here, which the government has skirted around and will do so as long as it can through this and subsequent lockdowns, all those without work at home must don a homemade face mask and go out to make a living. They're perfect fodder for exploitation and extended hours — and employers can always blame the pandemic!

Uncertainly can actually be a blessing in disguise — Photo: Daria Nepriakhina

The exhaustion in Colombia is physical. But make no mistake, it's political as well!

And yet, the pandemic also offers some benefits. By pulling the curtain back on some painful inequalities, it may trigger fundamental changes around the world, especially with the second wave of infections now hitting Europe. The uptick in cases there may be a prelude to more waves that will make the changes even more necessary, even if they must happen under duress or fear.

Our hidden resources emerge under the pressure of hostile surroundings

Events are forcing us to consider outside realities, but also to look inside ourselves for purpose. We may be wondering what our lives mean. Threats strip our life goals bare like surgery without anesthesia. Without them, life may become painful and depressing, but this may precede a recovery toward a healthier spirit. and that's because anxiety is an unexplored source of creativity and resilience that is usually only approached by the brave or saintly. Our hidden resources emerge under the pressure of hostile surroundings, when they might have remained hidden and dormant.

Uncertainty has recovered its rightful place as an essential part of existence, without the comforts and structures we use to cushion our lives. We are not in control. Science is not an all-powerful god and, believe it or not, Google can't answer all of our questions.

As we do not know what will happen tomorrow, the wisdom is to follow the age-old counsel of living in the present. One day at a time, trusting in God, loosening our expectations and letting go of the absurd ideas about control. It's better now to be a humble bamboo that bends with the wind than a colossal, and unyielding tree that could come crashing down.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

That Man In Mariupol: Is Putin Using A Body Double To Avoid Public Appearances?

Putin really is meeting with Xi in Moscow — we know that. But there are credible experts saying that the person who showed up in Mariupol the day before was someone else — the latest report that the Russian president uses a doppelganger for meetings and appearances.

screen grab of Putin in a dark down jacket

During the visit to Mariupol, the Presidential office only released screen grabs of a video

Russian President Press Office/TASS via ZUMA
Anna Akage

Have no doubt, the Vladimir Putin we’re seeing alongside Xi Jinping this week is the real Vladimir Putin. But it’s a question that is being asked after a range of credible experts have accused the Russian president of sending a body double for a high-profile visit this past weekend in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

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Reports and conspiracy theories have circulated in the past about the Russian leader using a stand-in because of health or security issues. But the reaction to the Kremlin leader's trip to Mariupol is the first time that multiple credible sources — including those who’ve spent time with him in the past — have cast doubt on the identity of the man who showed up in the southeastern Ukrainian city that Russia took over last spring after a months-long siege.

Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov is among those who confidently claim that a Putin look-alike, or rather one of his look-alikes, was in the Ukrainian city.

"Now that there is a war going on, I don't rule out the possibility that someone strongly resembling or disguised as Putin is playing his role," Gudkov said.

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