The world used to be a fearful place, with no end of things in it to worry and frighten us.
There was man-made climate change, and its far-reaching consequences which a lot of people, and not just environmentalists and activists like Greta Thunberg, were increasingly alarmed about. And the more the naysayers like President Donald Trump denied it, the more frightening climate change became.
The media were full of news about climate change. About how the polar ice caps and glaciers were melting, how global temperatures were rising, how entire species of flora and fauna were being wiped out.
Then there was pollution. People, particularly those living in urban India, obsessed about pollution, and what caused it. Stubble burning by farmers? Industrial emissions? Motor vehicle exhaust fumes? All of the above?
When people weren’t worrying about pollution, they worried about inflation, especially food inflation. What did you pay for 1 kg of onions? Inflation was a scary thing, as scary as pollution.
Parents with small children faced the fearsome prospect of getting their kids into nursery schools. Older children, and their parents, were terrified of looming board exams, and feared for the poor souls who didn’t score 99.99% in them.
The world was full of lots of frightening things and then, like a thunderbolt from cloudless skies, coronavirus struck, and all the other things we’d previously been afraid of – climate change, pollution, inflation, school admissions, board exams – became subsumed under the sum of all fears, which is the viral pandemic.
The virus, and everything related to it – the number of global cases, fatalities, recoveries, job losses, economic meltdowns – have dominated the headlines, pushing all else into the background, including terror attacks.
Coronavirus has filled us with so much fear that we have no space left for any other fears. In that the pandemic has caused us to fear fewer bogeys, it has made us not fearless, but merely fear-less.