I should have written to you much earlier, but COVID-19 has its own way of derailing everything.
I am writing to you about our Super HappYYness Festival. There is no way we can hold the Festival in these dire circumstances – it is postponed until next year, same dates, same venue. I am writing to you to thank you for your active support to our collective commitment to our mission of social consciousness and social business behind the Super HappYYness Festival. In organizing this Festival, we rediscovered ourselves. We now feel we are based on a firmer and wider ground. It amazes me to see how through this whole process we have actually built a wonderful constellation which is ready to unleash enormous social consciousness to build a better world for tomorrow.
But the sudden global health challenge thrown by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put everything on hold. Saving lives has rightly become the only issue around the entire world. This new reality is challenging each one of us at every moment. As a part of the shift of the focus, we have to keep our Super HappYYness Festival on hold to devote ourselves entirely to face the new existential issue. We are advising everyone everywhere to follow the WHO and the UN recommendations: avoid gatherings, wash hands frequently, and stay at home. Health and safety are our highest priority. We are committed to follow these, and encourage everyone to do so.
In the meantime, we have set a new date for the Festival. The Super HappYYness Festival will be held exactly one year after the date on which it was scheduled this year, on June 26-29, 2021. Not only is there no question of giving it up, it has now become a must for us to hold it.
The raging pandemic makes this Festival more meaningful and more urgent. The pandemic gives us an opportunity to look back at where we went wrong, and how we should reinvent ourselves. This crisis is leading to the collapse of the existing world order. If that happens, on the positive side, we see the great opportunity to build a completely NEW socio-economic order, on the ashes of the destruction of the old order.
There is not much reason for us to shed tears for the collapse of the old order. The old order led us to a disaster. In a sense, we are lucky to be derailed from this disastrous path. We have a CHOICE— either we go back on the old tracks, or we build new tracks to take us to a new civilization. We are now in a position to build new tracks. We missed our chance in 2008 in building those after the global financial crash. Let us not miss the chance this time.
In this context our Super HappYYness Festival 2021 becomes extremely important and timely.
While we plan for the 2021 Festival, we should focus on the immediate task to save people, particularly the older people, and the economically vulnerable among us. We can focus on what kind of healthcare system we must build to include everybody in that system. If anyone is missed, he or she becomes the gaping
hole that invites health hazards for all. We must build a system where each one is recognized as a part of the whole. Nobody is an island, no matter how rich and powerful. The complete system of life is not limited to human beings alone; the system includes all life forms. Maintaining balance among all lives leads us to the question of our food habits, we should learn what to eat. COVID-19 has taught us a harsh lesson on our food habits. If we become respectful to all life forms, we shall have safer lives for all life forms on this planet.
We must mobilize our Super HappYYness community as the crisis gets deeper and deeper. We can give people hope for a new world in the middle of this raging war. We must act. It is time to act. We can act locally, act nationally, and act globally. We have the knowledge, network and creativity to produce results. We work with individuals, families, communities, we work with the youth, with senior people, with the business world, we can work with corporates. We can work with tech people. We can work with governments, financial institutions, policy-makers. If we do not act, the world will go back and repeat what it did in 2008. This is the easiest option for the status quo. We have to give them new options, more attractive than before, bringing more fundamental changes than ever thought possible. This is the time for action at all levels.
It has never been so clear as it is today that interconnectivity has turned the whole world into a small neighbourhood. No one is unknown; no one is too far from anyone else. There is no way we can ignore anyone on the ground on the account that we are not aware of their conditions or problems. If we are not doing anything it is because of our disinterest. Our disinterest comes from our wrong belief that if I can be successful in accumulating wealth, that will benefit everybody. It is time to wake up to point out that this belief is not founded on reality and it is against all the norms of human happiness. Our happiness, material and psychological, lies in sharing with each other, not taking away from each other.
This pandemic demonstrates how sharing is the only way forward.
In this catastrophic situation, our responsibility is to take care of those who are in need and cannot protect themselves. This is the time for our Super Happiness community to come up with actions to give worldwide guidance for solidarity, gleaning from all our past experience. We have to show the way to handle the consequences of the massive damage through our endless mismanagement, our misconstrued economic models, and our indifference to healthcare.
We plan our coming days in the following way: we shall continue to work this summer under the banner of “The Summer of Purpose.”
We shall keep listening to the WHO and the UN, to receive their guidance to go through our daily realities. By the end of June, around the old Super HappYYness Festival dates that we have just abandoned, we, together with your inputs, will assess the global situation whether the time is right for launching our campaign to build a “New Civilization.” In any case, we will come back to you with our collective thoughts and ideas. For this purpose, we invite you to keep old dates – June 26-29, 2020 – still blocked, in case we can come up with ideas to get together virtually to review the situation in each country at that point of time and the role we must play within our communities and also globally.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted the whole world. We have still to see, by the time it ends, how much of our weaknesses this pandemic will reveal in our health system, global decision-making system, our coping mechanism, global financial system, and in many more aspects of our lives which we have taken for granted for ages. By the end of June, we will see a lot more than what we see now. Before we begin to see any wrongly designed massive recovery programmes — unacceptably tilted to the rich, on the back of the heavily condemned institutional structures and protocols – we have to take the opportunity to define our concepts, elaborate our programmes, and policies.
We must promise to ourselves that the Corona crisis should not end up just a distant unpleasant memory in the near future. We should get ready to mark 2020 as the year of tectonic shift in our thinking and our action. The memory of 2020 should provide us the moral fuel and will to redefine ourselves drastically. We must make 2020 as the new birth year for the human race. We shall treat as treasure the memories of everything which led to 2020. Think about it while we are spending endless days and nights at a stretch hopefully imagining what the future holds for this planet and all forms of lives it holds.
In the meantime, stay healthy, keep everybody else healthy, look after the elderly and the families around you who are struggling to find the food to survive. Keep in touch locally and globally. Assure each other that we are not alone.
Thank you again for being such a great friend.
Professor Muhammad Yunus
Nobel laureate Dr Yunus postpones Super Happyness Festival