At a time when consumerism is at its filthiest and vilest, the prime lesson from rampaging coronavirus could have been to live with the barest minimum. But the human race that takes exaggerated pride in its ability to lord over all things it surveys prefers rather the message contrary to frugality. Instead of reining in the dispensable expenditure and sharing the money thus saved with the helpless and needy members of society, the species at the top of the list of the living beings has gone for smarter and well crafted way of fuelling consumerism. If Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, made the greatest leap during the pandemic to outpace the select group of the world's richest, some of his followers in this part of the world made a mockery of the marketing mechanism by resorting to dubious and distorted means.
If Bezos' Amazon and Jack Ma's Alibaba have pushed the frontier of electronic or on-line trading to the farthest horizon, not all are equally gifted to expand their commercial ventures like these two business magnates. But then what is their capital for creating enormous sums of money? They do not produce commodities or have not invented technologies like those of Steve Jobs' Apple and Bill Gates' Microsoft but they came up with the idea of employing those famous giant companies' technologies to the service sector in the most innovative way for reaping dividends.
During the pandemic when lockdowns brought life to a standstill, their service proved all the more essential and they made the most of it. But much as this may have helped people in that critical time, it does not quite give everyone the mental peace that conscientious people look for. Making outrageous amount of money when millions of people --- who are daily wage earners, small traders, retrenched low-paid employees, families that have lost their bread earners to Covid-19 --- are struggling to eke out a living!
When an observation like this is made, one does not forget the donation of large amounts made by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates for the cause of the hungry and ailing humanity. Although their help has been very useful to millions, the fact remains that it is too little in a world riven by atrocious discriminations. No mortal can take along the wealth s/he accumulates and all the human concerns, big or small, are put at rest when one says goodbye to this world. Yet what a mad rush for building business empire and sitting on piles of money!
The confinement during the pandemic should have given successful people to be in conversation with the inner self. Instead of looking for material success only, they could ask themselves if they have made their lives meaningful by rendering humanitarian services at a most critical time of history. Consumerism was never considered a plus point in societies of the past in this land.
It was the time when the head of the family, usually the eldest male member, renounced family ties to accept hermitage. Then people's longevity was shorter and by the age 40 they completed their family duty to accept vanaprastha (life in forest) that led to sannyasa (pursuit of spiritualism). Well, women also accepted similar life but perhaps their number was few. Today, life begins at 40 for many and the geriatric range is officially considered not before 60 when service-holders get retired.
Even at this stage, many people now stay active and are worried with small concerns. There is no question of choosing a life of asceticism. Hardly do people become disinterested and detached from material life in order to dedicate their lives to spiritual pursuits. Well, in this mechanical and technological age, if spiritualism proves unattractive, people can by all means dedicate their time and energy to the welfare of the fellow human beings who are poor, illiterate and suffering from a lack of knowledge and a host of taboos. This can be the modern version of vanprastha and sannyasa. This is how societal transformation can gradually take place for the better. At this ripe age, people's aging will also come about more gracefully and meaningfully in the process.