Fatin Taha Al-Jumaily is an Iraqi artist from Karbala and resides in the US where she studied the art of painting at St. Catherine University in Minnesota. Faten has shown work in Minneapolis through IARP. Her work is a response to the war through the particular lens of women’s experience. This article is published with approval from IARP.
The coronavirus, invisible to the eye, caused extensive ramifications on the global level. But it has also taught us important lessons and served as an important reminder. It changed the whole world in an instant, disrupting our equilibrium and superseding all other priorities. For example, students who have been concerned about their courses and exams are now facing a greater challenge: how to avoid the disease. Their situation has changed dramatically, despite being given time off from school. The academic concerns of yesterday have become non-existent today. For others, the outcome of projects that took months and years of planning have changed in an instant. Furthermore, the various festivals, conferences, and local, regional, and international events have all been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The world became overturned; trips were cancelled, business deals were called off. The main priority is now focused on overcoming the virus. In a matter of hours, the pyramid of priorities was turned on its head. Many officials did not imagine this day would come, where their persistent efforts to manage the affairs of their regions could be upended.
I consider the coronavirus to be nature’s revolution; its way of rectifying the significant impact of humans driven by their personal gains, selfishness, and short-sightedness. In the past, whenever a disaster occurred, be it natural (earthquakes and hurricanes) or manmade (wars), some religious zealots claimed these as God’s punishment for drifting away from Him, and indulging in pleasures, etc. Today, this pandemic would be exploited the same way by some zealots as God’s punishment for our disobedience and aversion to religion. Nevertheless, it can be said that the pandemic is nature’s reaction to human activities against the environment. There is an old Greek proverb that “nature does nothing in vain,” which means that nature works in the interest of long-term benefits in order to rectify mistakes. Therefore, we should endeavor to be optimistic as we overcome this pandemic. We can realize the positive aspects of how overcoming it will change our daily lives for the better. Telecommuting is one important example. Working from home reduces our dependence on transportation that causes pollution, global warming, and related consequences to humans, animals, and nature. In essence, the pandemic is nature’s revolution to rectify our behavior. It reinforces global efforts, reconciliation, and cooperation between nations in the face of this crisis against an invisible enemy This should give us wisdom and much-needed hope as the world faces uncertainty with deep faith and acceptance of fate.
I am very optimistic, because I love life. Because I am a mother who wants to see my son grow up. Because I am an artist who wants to contribute something beautiful. Therefore, I have to fight for survival like so many of the Iraqis who are resisting the virus by staying at home and following the health guidelines. We don’t have any other choice. But it won’t be long until we will emerge victorious from this crisis. And soon enough, my city, Karbala, will become free of the disease. This will leave us with a lesson in experience. But it is important to take advantage of it because we are the ones to benefit the most from transforming ourselves.
Finally, God is always with us. It is our unity and cooperation that drives away harm and evil. My advice to you is to protect the public interest because it will benefit you as well as others. We have rights, but we also have responsibilities, the interplay of which reveals our natural humanity. As humans, our instinct is always directed towards love and goodness, not evil. I hope that our world will overcome this coronavirus crisis and return to normalcy, but with greater splendour and purity. I hope that we become more united in our humanity. Wishing you good health and safety.