It is unthinkable for me to become a homebody. I am busy as a bee so the prospect of staying at home if the authorities announce a stay at home order or lockdown is a dread to me.
I have never been able to stay at home the whole day. I need a breather even if it is just to go to the supermarket and look for an item to buy. That would be a relief to get out of my house.
In this unusual situation of COVID-19 infection, more and more countries are using lockdown, partial or total to resolve the spread. It began with China that had a complete restriction in Wuhan city and other Chinese cities. It seemed to have worked and soon other countries followed suit.
During this imposition, we have observed how people responded to this “incarceration”. The now-famous balcony singing by Italians was a beautiful gesture of solidarity and strength in these crucial times.
Many countries followed with their versions of Balcony singing in Germany, Wales, Israel, Malaysia, etc but the Italians are the clear winners.
Being cooped up 24 hours for two weeks at home can be very challenging.
However, one has to deal with it. I looked up some stories of famous prisoners and see what they did when they were confined. Of course, it is preposterous to compare home confinement to people who are put away for long periods and under very harsh conditions. However, there is something to learn from the latter.
After all, in lockdown, there is plenty of time for contemplation and with the internet, I would choose to read up about the strong minds of those survivors in adversities.
We could draw inspiration from prominent figures in history. Nelson Mandela was one of the longest political prisoners in South Africa. He spent 27 years, imprisoned in three locations, the longest being Robben island.
I visited Robben Island in 2018 and saw his small cell without bed or plumbing and learned about his remarkable fight for the rights of those who were racially segregated by the apartheid government.
Despite poor conditions and hard labor, he continued to be the symbolic leader of the anti-apartheid movement while under arrest. He taught his inmates and continued to show his leadership.
How did he survive this long and maintained his sanity? He kept to his principles and continued to engage his mind. He influenced others into a positive mindset. He turned Robben prison into a place where intellectual debate could take place and there were intense discussions about politics, culture, and sport. In fact, Robben island came to be known as the University of Robben. There, many future leaders were groomed.
Nelson Mandela’s life was about persistence, integrity, diligence, composure, tolerance, forgiveness, intellect, leadership, wits and humor. He was an interesting man to interact with, bringing humor to others in an inimitable manner.
Despite such long incarceration, some of his eminent quotes were valuable for posterity. I have selected just five to internalize.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can change the world.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
I never lose. I either win or learn.
What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.
When Mandela was released in 1990, he walked out tall and dignified, unexpected of a man who had been imprisoned for 27 years.
He and de Klerk combined efforts to end apartheid and later Mandela became the 1st black President of South Africa until 1999. As an elderly statesman, he continued to serve his country through his charitable foundation until his death in 2013.
In the process of reading and writing about Mandela, I have already felt a great sense of motivation and encouragement to overcome any adversities that would come my way.
I hope to share the cultivation of our courageous human spirit with my friends who have been worried about what to do during quarantine or lockdown.
What are our peeves about life when some people have it a thousand times tougher? I would not allow myself to gripe about anything. Time can always be gainfully used.
If there is a protracted lockdown, I would use this time to read more about great men, their histories and their thinking to improve my mind. There are so many heroes and heroines in history that we can read about. Even if I can apply just one aspect, I would be a winner.
Indeed, most of us are so swept away by a daily routine that we sometimes need to reorganize our lives. Reading and writing would be an excellent activity to imbibe some wisdom and improve our lives during this period of confinement.