War between Humans & Non-humans

Prof. Chintamani Mahapatra
March 15, 2020


The war between states/nations is as old as known history. Historians have written uncountable books and articles, media personnel have written countless commentaries, and Hollywood, Bollywood, and other moviemakers have produced innumerable movies on wars and conflicts. Epics have been written on wars, such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. However, not many social scientists are concerned about the war between humans and non-humans. The plants, animals, microorganisms, mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, winds, and even space are so crucial for human habitation and survival, yet human beings have been waging wars of various kinds for ages. The wars between humans and non-humans are both offensive and defensive. 

The most difficult aspect of this phenomenon is the offensive war of bacteria and viruses against human beings. They are like terrorists—not easy to locate and not visible to the naked eyes. There are many bacteria and viruses that exist but are yet to be discovered. Human beings have been struggling to develop anti-bacterial and anti-viral medications, but such arsenals are always inadequate in supply and limited in their abilities to fight to win. 

History of epidemics and pandemics are replete with horror stories, real in their contents and not fairy tales, which depict the miseries of humans under attack and the helplessness of the humans in saving lives. No agreements can be signed to limit or end the wars between the humans and the non-humans. There are simply no peace agreements and nor will there be ever. This kind of war is eternal as long as humans and non-humans exist on the planet. 

Humans are, of course, not beyond, committing errors. In fact, human blunders are a zillion. The exploitation of the world of Nature by human civilization is boundless. There has been a relatively late realization of the devastating effects of it on future generations and the fury in which nature has begun its counter attack. As a result, humans have started making consistent efforts to preserve Nature and reverse climate change. 

Humans differ on the need to address global climate change, whereas what is required is unity among the humans in the war against natural calamities. Disaster research has become a fashionable academic pursuit and bureaucratic programs. What is required is global action and disaster preparedness. Developed countries have their fair share of disasters, such as forest fires, tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes, and earthquakes, and their preparedness has depicted increasing sophistication. However, developing countries continue to be at the receiving end. 

The war of humans against diseases is perennial. Regular human sufferings and deaths due to cancer, tuberculosis, malaria, etc. are being fought against with ever-improving capabilities and results. However, medical issues have, by and large, remained national concerns until diseases such as HIV AIDS, SARS, MERS, Ebola, and now Corona Virus have crossed borders and drew international attention and concerns. Unfortunately, all these have remained national or regional concerns.

The Corona virus pandemic is a harsh wakeup call to humans to rise above their narrow differences and wage a full-scale war against this disease and other potential pandemics in the future. For quite some time, the world watched when Chinese people in thousands became victims. More recently, Japan and the United States declared “national emergencies”. In India, some states have responded more robustly than others. Even the European Union, at the time of its writing, has not taken up the challenge at the EU level, while Europe has now become the epicenter of the Corona virus with a lockdown in Italy and many other states reporting cases of COVID-19. 

If the Corona virus has threatened human lives in more than a hundred countries already, does the solution lie at the local, national, or regional level? Humans are familiar with divide and rule strategies. Such strategies were adopted at one time by imperial/colonial powers. Nevertheless, such strategies prevent nations from coming together even in times of global crises like the one COVID-19 has created. Efforts to fight this pandemic should transcend the national politics of nations, irrespective of ideologies or political systems. 

On the contrary, wars have united nations. Should not pandemics, such as the Corona virus unite humans? If the humans ignore the threat posed by the Corona virus and remain divided along caste, class, color, race, ethnicity, nationality, language, political, and economic lines, non-humans are sure to come out victorious. The positive benefits brought about by the forces of globalization will simply vanish, and people will remain divided unless the political leadership, the world over, take note of the emerging challenges and take united steps to come to terms with it. 

The fact that the Corona virus is not a solo threat needs to be emphasized. In an arms race or armed conflict, the opponents always try to develop new survival kits/skills and newer offensive capabilities. The same is qualitatively true in the war between humans and non-humans. The literature and debate on anti-biotic solutions throw enough light on this. 

The United States has developed a global health policy. This policy is certainly not the outcome of any humanitarian considerations. At the same time, it has beneficial effects on many nations. Corona virus threat is a global phenomenon, and thus the Trump Administration should declare a global emergency and not just a national emergency, and the US should provide leadership in tackling this pandemic. The established superpower and the aspiring superpower are still engaged in name-calling and finger-pointing. Corona viruses must be smiling and benefitting from the divisions among the humans and thanking their stars! At least, they are united.