Urban density and COVID-19
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - March 31, 2020 - 12:00am

Saying that the COVID-19 pandemic is a disruption is a huge understatement. It decisively changed the way man and society lived in the past. Not only did it change our daily lives, it made us rethink what life is really all about, what the purpose of it is, and what is important as we continue with it. Now everything that’s supposed to be important to us no longer is. Money, power, fame, and all that most people in general wanted to achieve in life no longer matter. We’re back to the basics.

We’re supposed to wind this series on “Urban Density and Congestion” up and we’re disrupted, too. But a new question was introduced by urbanists all over the world. Is urban density really the better option for cities in the future? Urban scientists really believed that people would live in cities in the future, but that certainty is being placed under debate now. In these times when “social distancing” (the more appropriate term is “physical distancing” and even WHO is insisting on that) is the norm, some of us are asking whether urban density is really that essential?

There was a lull in the discussion worldwide, but it returned in no time, with a decisive opinion that urban density will still be the norm in post-COVID-19. The current physical distancing practice is a reaction to the pandemic, which is a disruption in the first place. Distancing is a requirement because of the mode of spread of the virus, and that is only needed until the virus disappears – we will return back to normal distancing when this will be over…until the next pandemic, which, by now people should believe, will be inevitable. Maybe by next time, countries and cities would be always ready and prepared, not like today. But density would still make human settlement more convenient and economical. As long as the mobility issue will be addressed, and people will stop their avarice for private cars.

It is man’s purpose in life which is the more difficult question. Noticeably, we see a surge in religious fervor these times when death seems not so far away. We always have our share of statistics when people die because of this and that, but it is the uncertainty of this disease which frightens people. The fatality rate is not really that high, but very uncertain – it doesn’t respect age, sex, nationality, status in life, or whatever factor. It’s just there, creeping. It causes man to call out to God, as we always do in the past. Unfortunately, we often always miss the answers.

It’s right there, in the Scriptures. God has spoken to us because he loves us. And he outlined his eternal plan for that personal relationship. A Christian observance is near which epitomizes that plan – the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. I hope and pray the world will find the reason and meaning of life in Christ, in the Bible. Be safe, all of you. Stay at home. Read your Bible. (To be continued)

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