When the world wobbles in the face of a ruthless pandemic.

 The year 2020 will go down in history as a year when the Coronavirus pandemic, otherwise known as COVID-19 pandemic, let loose its fury upon humanity and spread panic, confusion, fear, deaths, and an unspeakable sorrow all over the world. Considering the massive disruptions to human activities and the enormous pain caused by the deadly virus, 2020 will best be described as an annus horribilis. Yes, a horrible year that completely upended our way of life; a horrible year that will forever be remembered as one of the worst years in human history. The social cataclysm caused by the pandemic will undoubtedly remain indelible in our memories for a long time.

We all began the year with our individual hopes and dreams laid out for realization during the year. Little did we know that we were about to embark on a difficult journey with paths all covered with thistles that threaten to choke those dreams. Everyone had a calendar of plans to execute and goals to accomplish during the new year. Many people, businesses or corporate entities started the year with high hopes of improving on their previous year’s performance scorecard. But COVID-19 struck and threw a spanner in the works. Millions of people lost their jobs. The travel and hospitality industries as well as the restaurant business were particularly hit hard. Most of the businesses that closed due to the pandemic may not come back.

The pandemic, which was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, quickly spread like wildfire in January 2020 to Europe, the US and other parts of the world. Between January and June 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic had already infected well over a million people around the world while the number of casualties within the same time frame ran into hundreds of thousands of people. The trend continued until the fall season which was also the beginning of flu. This was the period which health experts predicted to be the advent of the second wave expected to be more deadly than the first. But could we have prevented the situation from getting worse and spiraling out of control? Has the world been plagued with this kind of terrible disease before?

The Coronavirus Predecessor.

The last time the world experienced a pandemic similar in nature and ferocity was in 1918. The pandemic of that year was called the Spanish Flu which reportedly killed a whopping 50 million people around the world within a period of 2 years and 2 months i.e., between February 1918 and April 1920. An estimated 675,000 Americans were killed in that deadly pandemic. That was 103 years ago when most of the people alive today were not born. Even if there are people who were born in 1918 and are still alive today, it is highly unlikely that they will have vivid memories of the events that happened when they were just 1 year or 2 years old. This means that all of us alive today heard or read about the pandemic of 1918 to 1920 in history books.

How did we allow a smoldering fire to become a conflagration?

In the early days of the Coronavirus outbreak, leading up to March 11th, 2020 when the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and gave it a new name of COVID-19, the global organization and the relevant health authorities and disease control agencies in every country had provided education and mitigation guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of the dangerous virus. These guidelines included wearing a face mask, social distancing, frequent handwashing, using hand sanitizers, and isolation or quarantining. Part of these initial measures also included total lockdown of cities and communities in many countries. Although the WHO advocated a strict compliance to the above-named mitigation measures, the degree of compliance varied from one country to another.  

But how did the US miss the opportunity to extinguish and prevent a smoldering fire from becoming a conflagration when the deadly virus reached its shores? Could we have stopped this dangerous virus from engulfing the whole world? The United States as the leading country in the world also led the world with the highest number of deaths from the Coronavirus pandemic. It failed to rise to the occasion when it could have launched an all-out-war against the virus at its first appearance in the state of Washington. The noncompliance with the mitigation guidelines by the country’s leadership actively encouraged most of the citizenry to do the same. This was how the Coronavirus spread like an uncontrollable wildfire in the US.

 How can you recklessly refuse to comply with a simple measure of wearing a face mask that can prevent the spread of the virus and save your life and those of others? It is sheer display of unnecessary machismo and foolhardiness for an unarmed man to confront a gunman who is ready to rob and kill. Anyone who does this is simply trying to commit suicide. There is nothing to be macho about when you swagger stupidly and defenselessly before a dreaded monster called COVID-19. The general lackadaisical attitude and noncompliance of some people with the mitigation guidelines in the early stages of the pandemic contributed mainly to the astronomical increase in the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19, particularly in the US.

The WHO, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control Prevention), a US agency and the equivalent agencies in other countries, and the infectious diseases experts around the world represent our war commanders in the war against COVID-19 pandemic and we are the troops. The commander studies and knows the terrain of the battlefield better than the troops. He plans the movement of troops and logistics for effective results. Any troop on the war front who disobeys the commander’s instructions does so at his or her own peril. Those who refuse to wear face mask, practice social distancing, and comply with the other preventive measures disobey the instructions of the war commanders. And they risk being captured or killed by COVID-19.

The Second Wave.                                                                                                      

True to the experts’ prediction, a high-octane second wave did arrive with unprecedented viciousness and ferocity. The virulence and ruthlessness which the pandemic unleashed on the people since the beginning of the second wave caused a significant spike in the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. The world heaved a sigh of relief when Pfizer (USA) and BioNTech (Germany) jointly announced a COVID-19 vaccine in November 2020. Shortly after this announcement, widespread vaccinations of the people began in earnest. But it appeared as if, sensing an imminent defeat, the monster pandemic decided to race against the vaccine in December 2020 to inflict the most horrific devastation yet before being subdued by the vaccine. And it did just that. That is probably why the highest number of casualties in the US was recorded in December 2020. The trend has continued in 2021 as the deadly virus rages on unabated. Sadly, on February 22, 2021, the US crossed over 500,000 mark in the number of deaths from Coronavirus pandemic and counting.

The COVID-19 Variants and the vaccines.

 We now have three variants of the virus that have surfaced in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. They were said to have the potential to exacerbate the already bad situation created by COVID-19. Fortunately, more vaccines from Moderna (USA), AstraZeneca (British-Swedish), and perhaps a few others around the world have also emerged in addition to the one from Pfizer-BioNTech (US-German). As of now, it remains to be seen if the vaccines will be potent enough to ward off the danger posed by these variants. A third vaccine to combat the deadly pandemic has also been produced in the US by Johnson & Johnson. It was released to the public in the first week of March 2021. A combination of these vaccines and a strict and sustained global application of the recommended mitigation strategies enumerated above will hopefully see the demise of the COVID-19 pandemic sometime this year (2021) and confine it to the dustbin of history.

How will history look back on 2020?

When the dust settles and the historians around the world begin to chronicle the events of 2020 and 2021 for posterity, they will describe the years as variously as follows: The years when multiple millions of people were infected with COVID-19 and millions more also died of the pandemic. The years when death became a “cheap commodity” peddled and foisted upon the people by a deadly agent called Coronavirus. The chroniclers will describe the years as a period when cases of coronavirus infections spiraled out of control in the US leading to over three hundred and fifty thousand deaths for five consecutive days in December 2020.

The years will be recorded by the historians as a time in history when the lachrymose mourners and the bereaved hardly had any tears left in their lachrymal gland, having cried their hearts out over the loss of their loved ones. The fact that the bereaved never had the opportunity to bid their loved ones a farewell before their death made the situation more painful.

Interestingly, the historians will look back on 2020 and 2021 as the years when the advanced countries of the world were completely rattled by COVID-19 pandemic. They will describe 2020 as a year when the US, the World Superpower became the World Super Weakling and a giant with the feet of clay in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic considering the slipshod manner it handled the whole crisis. These years will be remembered for decades to come as a period when the world not only turned topsy-turvy but also wobbled in the face of a ruthless pandemic.

If Your Private Life In 2016 Were Captured In A Video, Will You Be Bold To Watch It In Public?

Monitoring, Safety, Surveillance

Since 1942 when the first CCTV was developed and used by the German scientists in the middle of World War 2, the use of CCTV, otherwise known as surveillance video camera, has expanded and gained worldwide popularity.  The surveillance video camera has undoubtedly enhanced the security of lives and property and revolutionized the way we handle the issue of security in the modern society. It is used by law enforcement operatives for monitoring or surveillance purposes and to establish the true identities of crime perpetrators with a view to eventually bringing them to justice.  Some hundreds of millions of security cameras are said to have been installed mostly in big cities around the world today.

For the purposes of this post, I will put all video surveillance cameras into two categories. The CCTV which we are all familiar with is the one that is installed in offices, homes, public places and cities. It is the first category and what I call the visible camera. It captures human activities in all targeted areas. The second category captures human activities in all areas but it is not installed anywhere. I will discuss this later in this post. But in the meantime, take a long, hard look at your private life in 2016.

How Was Your Private Life In 2016?

It is not my desire to pry into your personal life with this question. Rather, I intend to provoke you to take some time to ruminate over those things you did last year when no one was watching you. There were certain things you did in secret in 2016 which you will NEVER want to share with the public for fear of retribution or because of the social stigma they will bring upon you. Your preference would be to keep them permanently under wraps. Here are a few examples of the crimes committed during the year and most of their perpetrators were never caught.

Armed robbery: Are you an armed robber whose robbery escapades in 2016 went unnoticed? You dispossessed others of what they have toiled for all their lives. You left them reeling in agony while you smiled to the bank with your loot.

Murder: Were you a ruthless murderer in 2016? Your uncanny ability to cover your tracks was amazing. It was circulated in the social media that you orchestrated the murder of your own brother and his wife when the couple traveled home last December to celebrate Christmas with you. You reportedly committed this egregious crime in order to cover up your embezzlement of the funds that your brother had sent to you over the years for the purposes of executing some projects on his behalf.

Political assassination: You are not only a shrewd politician but you also employ those Machiavellian principles that enabled you to have your way at all costs at the detriment of your constituents. Those secret plots which you executed surreptitiously to eliminate your opponents were never discovered because you wield enormous power.

Adultery: You are a pastor and revered by members of your church as a man of God. But in reality, you are a man of Jekyll and Hyde personality living a double life as an adulterer in the dark and a “saint” before the congregation.

Rape: Is it your hobby to commit rape for joy? And in 2016, you were at your best. You are a philanderer with an unquenchable desire not only to rape women and children but also to liquidate your victims in order to destroy evidence. You escaped justice because your criminal acts were never reported or caught on tape.

But Why And How Do Criminals Still Avoid Being Caught Despite The Presence Of Millions Of Security Cameras Installed At Strategic Places In Cities Around The World?

The “Visible” Surveillance Camera.

The first answer to this question is that it is fiscally and practically impossible for governments, corporate entities or private individuals to cover all areas with CCTV cameras. The criminals are aware that they are in the full glare of security cameras and so they avoid the areas targeted by the cameras.  As a result, many of these criminals have a way of beating the system by committing their crimes far away from the view of security cameras.  Moreover, the cameras cannot physically stop them from committing crimes.

These cameras are not designed to capture, control or change the evil intentions in the human heart and mind. The intent or desire to carry out an evil act comes from the abyss of the human heart while the execution of the act is controlled by the human mind.

As long as we do not yet have the CCTV that can penetrate the dark chambers of the human heart or change human mind in the positive direction, surveillance cameras will mainly be useful for crime prevention, (not in all cases though), monitoring traffic and human activities, and unraveling identity problems arising from the investigation and litigation of certain cases before a court of law.

It is because of the limitations of the “visible camera” that the perpetrators of the above crimes were able to evade justice. This brings me to the second category of video surveillance cameras earlier mentioned above. It is what I call the “invisible camera”.


The “Invisible” Surveillance Camera.

The evil doers who circumvent the CCTV camera are able to do so because the camera is visible and man-made.  But do you know that there is an “invisible surveillance camera” that captures all human activities in darkness or daylight? This special camera is divine, invisible and indestructible. It is not installed in one place. There are as many invisible cameras as the number of human beings on earth. Everyone is assigned an invisible surveillance camera that goes everywhere with him/her.

Whether you are lonely in your bedroom, in the shopping mall, at the workplace, or underground, this camera follows you around and monitors every bit of your actions. It is so powerful that it can even capture your thoughts not yet put into action.

One important point to note is that the “operator” behind the camera is also invisible! He does not need your permission to monitor your activities because he is not bound by any human privacy laws. Even if you are as fleet-footed and energetic as Usain Bolt or endowed with the flying power of an eagle, you can only run but will never find a place to hide!

You may have escaped the law enforcement and the CCTV camera because of their limitations but no matter how clever you are, you can never escape the invisible camera. If your acts of evil committed in secrecy were captured in a video, will you be bold enough to watch it in public?

You can find me at isaacolat.com and on Facebook.

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

In 2016, slough off your old vices and replace them with new good habits!

Happy New Year and welcome to the year 2016. With 2015 gone and confined to the dustbin of history, you and I need to first of all give thanks to the Creator of heaven and earth for giving us the abundant blessings of life and divine protection throughout the year. Continue reading “In 2016, slough off your old vices and replace them with new good habits!”

Welcome to my new domain name.

Hello readers, I now have a new domain name called isaacolat.com. It replaces defeatlifechallenges.com under which the old posts appeared. With the new name, I have changed the focus and direction of my blog. Whereas the old blog was mainly devoted to education-related issues, the new one is focused on inspirational and motivational topics.

You will now find me on http://www.isaacolat.com which will also take you to my old education-related posts. My username is still lawmarisa.The major changes are the domain name and the focus of the blog.

Please stay tuned for my upcoming posts in the coming days.

Financial education leads to financial discipline.

It has been established that one of the biggest drivers of the debt for the US economy is the staggering amount of student loans that have continued to grow exponentially in recent years. Over the past decade or so, students in colleges and universities amassed huge amounts of loan debt that contributed to the federal budget deficit. Continue reading “Financial education leads to financial discipline.”

Why school discipline is ineffective.

Sometimes when I ponder over the issue of school discipline and the best way the teachers and school administrators should handle it in today’s modern society, I often think of the murky waters of severe administrative and legal limitations through which they have to waddle. A lot of indiscipline on the part of students is going on in schools and teachers are helpless because they dare not ‘touch’ the unruly students for fear of losing their jobs.

There is a limit to which the school principal or school administrators can implement disciplinary measures. Even the school district officials sometimes do not want to stick their heads above the parapet and assert full authority because they do not want to face unnecessary lawsuits. Any attempt by teachers and administrators to mete out discipline to badly behaved students is viewed by some parents as a ‘trespass’ by those teachers. Continue reading “Why school discipline is ineffective.”

Time to spring into action!

Welcome to the season of the daffodils and the tulips when the entire fauna and flora relish a new dawn of refreshing brightness, energy and an amazing beauty of the world around us. It is the season that symbolizes new beginnings, a rebirth or rejuvenation of new ideas and a resuscitation of moribund projects. It is a period of the year when everything comes alive once again with a pulsating energy and vitality. A case in point is the dawn chorus often beautifully rendered in unison with remarkable synchrony and renewed gusto by the songbirds at this time of the year.

This year’s long lingering and “greedy’ winter, one of the coldest ever recorded according to the meteorologists, overstayed its welcome and took more than its fair share of the seasonal pie. When it was finally the turn of spring to take over, winter reluctantly left the scene leaving behind “relics” of its brutality that lurked around for a while. Remember polar vortex and its devastating effects? No wonder our dear spring arrived in fits and starts and only a few days ago began to gain a strong foothold. As the winter passes on the baton to spring season with all their peculiar characteristics, so must we humans move from hibernation to vibrancy. This is the time for us to spring into action.

To all readers of this piece who have one project or another either partially abandoned or awaiting execution, tarry no further for now is the time to spring into action. Are you a writer or a blogger whose blog posts appear once in a blue moon? Did I hear somebody say…”But this seems to be a perfect and fitting description of you”. Unm… well, my reaction to that observation is simple. I consider this post as a big rod with which a man hits the surface of a puddle sending in all directions splutters of muddy water to all bystanders in the vicinity. Since no one is spared from being bespattered  in this situation, everyone has the responsibility to rise up and contribute to the good of the society.

Now is the time to awake from a state of lethargy into action. Whatever is holding you back from performing your role of putting smiles on the faces of the underprivileged, break yourself loose of that stranglehold today and spring into action by doing the right thing. Let all arbiters of standards including parents, teachers, religious leaders, judges and all other agents of socialization combine efforts and attempt to rectify the ills of the society and leave a good legacy for posterity. We should all  make hay while the sun shines.

Adieu Nelson Mandela the great!

With the passing of Nelson Mandela on December 5th, 2013 the whole world has lost a rare gem and an amazing personality. Nelson Mandela, a man whose mere mention of his name reverberates around the world has finally passed on to glory. When the news of his demise was beamed across the globe, the whole world literally stood still in honor of a man whose extraordinary qualities and achievements will forever remain indelible in the annals of history. For the past two days, this great man has been showered with encomiums and tributes for his service to humanity and the positive change he engendered in his lifetime. But I think Nelson Mandela’s personal sacrifice for mankind is so legendary that no eulogistic exercise in his honor would be easy to encapsulate. Continue reading “Adieu Nelson Mandela the great!”

The veritable foundation for a better society.

In my previous post, I asked you to solve a puzzle about the collapse of an edifice and determine whether the building fell as a result of a structural defect in its foundation or because of the tornado that ravaged the city. Here is my take on the puzzle: The building collapsed due to a combination of weak foundation and strong wind. If the foundation of the building has been solid, no wind no matter how gusty would be able to bring it down. The following explains the foundation and why no wind can be strong enough to bring it down.

Let me start off this post by sharing some thoughts on a very important issue in our educational system…The early childhood education. There has been well-documented evidence that demonstrates a positive impact of early childhood education on the cognitive ability and academic achievement of the children who take part in such programs as Head Start and Universal Pre-K. These two programs are operated at different wavelengths by the federal and state governments respectively. Whereas the head start is federally funded with its own set of guidelines, the universal pre-k is state-funded with some differences in  its modus operandi. This has played a major role in the reason why there has always been a cacophony of tunes  between the federal and state governments in terms of program implementation. Most studies on early childhood education have  focused mainly on the dividends it has yielded in the area of cognitive improvement as evidenced by higher test scores especially in math and reading. These studies have also cited early childhood education as being responsible for reducing  gaps in academic achievement. Yet, I am not sure much of this body of research has really focused the attention of the public on the impact of early childhood education on the social and emotional development of the children. Emphasis has always been on the development of the children’s cognitive domain while the affective domain has taken a back seat.

In this post, however, I intend to bring the affective domain to the forefront by discussing the impact of early childhood education on the social and emotional development of children. This has to do with how the early childhood  intervention programs affect the general behavior, moods and attitudes of children in the school environment and later in life. Some of the studies are said to have attested to a significant reduction of crimes among the program participants. This is because the adult educators have  inculcated some acceptable social norms and values into these fledgling learners alongside the teaching of math, reading or any other subject. It can  be reasonably argued that if a significant reduction of crimes can be achieved at this early stage of the children’s life, the childhood intervention programs responsible for this crime reduction rate  should be overhauled and nationally implemented without any strings attached.

To make this possible, all hands must be on deck…The agencies of socialization including  the family, the school, the social media, the religious organizations and, in fact, governments at all levels must work collaboratively in order to ensure a successful implementation of early education program nationwide. Each of these agencies has a significant role to play but let me dwell a bit on the role of government in this whole scenario. For instance, the congress must pass a legislation that will strengthen early childhood education more than ever before at every nook and cranny of the country. Although no government can legislate behavior, it can create avenues or means through  which a child will  acquire and demonstrate good morals in the society with the cooperation of the aforementioned agencies. Such an avenue is the early childhood education.The early childhood education is the stage and the critical point at which a solid moral foundation is established in the life of a young learner. This is why it is important to ‘catch them young’ while their mind is still impressionable and unpolluted. Even the bible, and I’m sure the Koran too, admonishes us to teach our children in the way of the Lord so that when they get older, they will not depart from it. This means that whatever moral lessons we impart into our children when they are young will remain ingrained in their psyche as they grow older.

This leads me to an all-important issue of morality in education which forms the basis of social and emotional development of our children. Let us once again bring morality in education to the fore in our educational discourse for the improvement of moral standards in our school children.  Some  countries have made it a top priority to lay emphasis on moral education in their educational system. The potential benefits of moral education on our youth cannot be overemphasized. Moral education basically consists in the transmission of beliefs and values into young children. The transmission of these values differs from one country to another, from culture to culture and, in fact, from religion to religion.  In Japanese educational system , for instance, it is imperative for students to be instructed in morality through every educational activity in the classroom. In other words, moral education is an integral part of the whole educational system. Students are said to participate actively in the cleaning of the school premises everyday. The moral ideal expected from this activity is to inculcate the value of work. Another way through which Japanese students imbibe moral ideals is by performing activities with animals and plants. This has the significant purpose of making them learn to respect and value life.  When children are exposed to activities that teach them how to respect and value life at a very tender age, not only will this value be ingrained in their consciousness, they will never think of grabbing a gun to settle scores with a fellow human being over a contentious issue. Participation in after school club activities by junior and high school students  is also an important strategy to acquire moral ideals. These include honesty, respect, responsibility, cooperation, courtesy, and compliance with rules among others. China’s system of education is similar to Japan’s, so I won’t discuss this separately. Suffice it to say that the citizens of these two Asian countries are noted especially for their humility and respect towards one another. My reference to these countries is not to be construed as conferring on them the status of utopian societies where social vices are non-existent. Far from it!  The point I’m making here is that they have made deliberate efforts to emphasize morality in their educational systems with noticeable social benefits.

In my view, any country that accords a primordial role to early childhood education in its educational system is undoubtedly laying a solid foundation for a better society. Now to the puzzle…I will conclude by saying that the solid foundation upon which a society is built is early childhood education. A structure built upon the solid foundation is sure to withstand any violent wind. An investment in childhood education today will produce a morally sound and energetic workforce and intelligentsia which no social turmoil can overcome.

Please leave a comment.

I am back after a prolonged hiatus!

No sooner had this blog post started almost a year ago than it went comatose! In my opening post, I had promised to follow-up with posts not only on educational matters and lifestyle but also on issues of significance in our society. But alas! my desire suddenly got throttled along the way by all the worries of this world and the flaming intention I had then was doused.

Thanks to a persistence of encouragements from people who want to read more of my posts, I have decided to bring my blog back to life. Now that I am back with renewed vigor, I will begin to churn out posts from time to time. Over this past year, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. There have been a lot of happenings politically, economically and educationally. I will comment on these happenings and more in my subsequent posts.

In the meantime, I wish to use this opportunity to re-introduce and re-integrate myself into your esteemed readership.  Let me leave y’all with this little allegory which will be discussed in detail when next I come your way in a few days’ time. An imposing edifice once stood in the center of a city. It was one of the most beautiful buildings and in fact, a tourist attraction in that city. On a windy summer day, this imposing building, that has been a pride to the citizens of this city, came crashing down.  An investigative panel was set up to find out the cause of the collapse of the building.

What do you think will be the result of the investigation into the collapse of the building…Hmm, can it be the strong wind, defective foundation, or some other structural deficiency?

Kindly leave a comment.