Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight, is the title of a book by Japanese writer Naoki Higashida. It tells the story of a young man who fights the challenges of autism with tenacity. The book gives the reader enduring and poignant lessons about life.
Fall down seven times, stand up eight, is also a famous wise saying from the biblical book of Proverbs. It encourages, perhaps, prescribes, resilience as a most beneficial attitude in the face of failure or setbacks.
The world woke up to news that global coronavirus cases had risen beyond ten million on Monday. The Straits Times newspaper despaired further, and wrote that, “the disease appears to be accelerating, taking six months to reach ten million cases after the first infection was reported ... but just forty-three days to double that number to twenty million.”
On Tuesday, New Zealand reacted to news that four family members had tested positive for the disease. It was the first occurrence of coronavirus cases after almost three months without any new infections. The country’s authorities quickly reacted and announced a virtual lockdown of Auckland. Meanwhile, more cases linked to the family have been reported.
In Namibia, health and social welfare minister, Kalumbi Shangula, told the country that, “we are at a critical stage. The public must strictly adhere to the regulations and health and hygiene protocols which are our first-line defence” at home, work and in public places.
Once more, as John Authers has noted, the Covid-19 pandemic “has forced a series of moral choices.” For medical student Katelyn Joy Chiu, “Covid-19 is a vicious annoyance that disregards everything.”
The Dawn newspaper in Pakistan came closest to what is uppermost on people’s minds by noting that, “the likelihood of any country being coronavirus-free, without strict restrictions in place or an effective vaccine, is non-existent.”
The sense of dismay and inconvenience that is associated with the pandemic seems likely to stay longer than bargained for. So too will curtailed social connections, loss of normality, freedom, and the overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety.
Journalist Emily Esfahani Smith writes that, “the coronavirus epidemic has not just threatened the physical health of millions but also wreaked havoc on the emotional and mental wellbeing of people around the world.”
Yet in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 challenges, the world cannot afford to be complacent. Fall seven times, stand up eight, encourages a sense of positivity, in order to give the country and her people the psychological defence it needs. Together, we can overcome such negative emotions as boredom, confusion, loneliness, fear and hopelessness.
A grief counsellor says while it is understandable for people to stay abreast of news about the pandemic, it is more important to constantly ensure that the search for updates does not become unhealthy and obsessive. She encourages people to focus on recovery numbers, or as author Prajakta Mhadnak writes, “to walk through darkness with thoughts full of colour”.
Indeed, science journalist Marta Zaraska encourages the world to hold on to the promise of better outcomes for health: “the current outbreak is putting a new spotlight on such issues as social isolation, community involvement and the quality of our relationships. Some of us finally have more time to contemplate purpose in life, its meaning. We are talking more about things such as domestic violence and the pain of loneliness.”
Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, would have underscored the value of what he called tragic optimism. He described it as the ability to maintain hope in the meaning of life despite its inescapable pain, loss, inconveniences and suffering.