Imagine a world without people

Imagine a world without people

Thursday, April 9, 2020 10:41 am

Nehru Odeh

By Nehru Odeh

We are living in strange times, times when streets are devoid of humans. And humans are locked within the confines of their little space, unable to interact, unable to share ideas and most especially, unable to hug one another because we must maintain social distance in order to avoid the contagion called coronavirus. It’s like saying we must stop living in order to live. What a world?

And of course the virus has taken a toll on humans – and is still taking a toll -across the globe. Many countries are recording human losses in hundreds of thousands.  Since the onset of the virus only very few countries can beat their chest and say they are free of the rampaging onslaught of the virus.

And certainly they must be countries, which shut out of civilization, have little or no history of international travels and interactions. But are there still countries that do not have interactions with the outside world, in this age of globalization, in this age of social media?

As I have said before, the virus has taken a toll on humans. Just take a long look across windswept streets, whether in Lagos, New York or London. What you see are streets full of silences, devoid of humans, devoid of even the honking sounds cars that remind us of humans. What you see are empty streets that have been taken over by birds and animals such as pigeons and dogs.

What does that tell us? Does it tell us of death, of emptiness, of our mortality, of our existential fate on this planet called Earth? Does this tell us about man’s place in this universe? Does it tell us about the purpose of existence? Albert Camus, the French existentialist philosopher would say man is in a solitary world without meaning and, like Sisyphus, is continually rolling a boulder up the mountain. But many will not agree with that. Still, Jean Paul Sartre, another French existentialist philosopher would say it is the duty of man to find meaning and purpose in a meaningless world. Those are what both writers and Nobel Laureates try to espouse via their literary works.

But have you ever taken a look at these solitary streets? What thoughts do they inspire? Have you ever imagined a world without people? Have you ever imagined a world without sight and sound? Have you ever imagined a world without human consciousness? What kind of world would that be?

This brings me to the age-old philosophical question. Do objects exist independently of the mind? Many treatises and doctoral dissertations have been written around that question. And it has engendered the division of many into opposing camps: the realists, the idealists, the intuitionist, and the empiricist etc.

Still, this is not the time to dwell on such divisive matters. This is the time for all humans across the globe to come together and think about our fate in this universe and our place in the scheme of things. This is the time to find common grounds and battle this contagion called coronavirus and other contagions that may likely sprout in the future.

Imagine a world without people. What kind of world would that be? A world where there is no human consciousness. A world where there is no conversation, no laughter, no smile, no cries (whether of joy or pain), no feelings, and no hugs, no love making. Imagine a world where there is not a single being, as the windswept streets now remind us?

Can we say that is a world? Can there be a world without people, without people with whom you can share ideas with, without people to whom you can pour your heart, without people in whom you can confide? I don’t think we can call that a world. That kind of world is like a solitary cell without a prisoner. If that is the case, then the purpose of that cell is defeated. Still, we don’t need cells in the world but recreation centres. There is also this philosophical question:  If a tree falls in the forest, and there‘s nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?

This is also brings us to the fact that the windswept streets remind us of the importance of people. People matter, regardless of the colour of their skin, the language they speak, the religion they profess or their social status. People matter because that is the only way we can find meaning in existence. But what about those who are lonely amidst crowds, you ask. But that is a malaise that can only arise when people don’t matter.

So as we stay indoors and allow the winds to sweep our streets, as we stay indoors and allow animals and birds to take over our streets, let us always be reminded of the fact that people matter. That is why, we, regardless of the colour of our skin, the language we speak, the religion we profess or our station in life, must come together to find common grounds and make this world a better place for us to live in, because, as the cliché goes, no man is an island. To end this piece, I leave you with these lines from the Beatles’ hit song, Imagine, as food for thought.

[Verse 1]

Imagine there’s no heaven

                                    It’s easy if you try

                                   No hell below us

                                   Above us, only sky

                                  Imagine all the people living for today


                                  Imagine there’s no countries

                                   It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

                                   And no religion too

                                  Imagine all the people living life in peace




You may say I’m a dreamer

                                 But I’m not the only one

                                 I hope someday you’ll join us

                                 And the world will be as one

                                                    [Verse 2]

                                  Imagine no possessions

                                  I wonder if you can

                                   No need for greed or hunger

                                   A brotherhood of man

                                  Imagine all the people sharing all the world


Nehru Odeh, journalist with TheNEWS, is the author of The Patience Of An Embattled Storyteller.



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One Comment

  • Ruth Bircham says:

    Remove the article titled raped 36 times. I have reported the incident to Metropolitan police service in the UK and they are currently investigating you. As I have also given them your full name NEHRU ODEH. It is against the UK LAW to publish people’s private personal information without their permission.
    ” The legal claim known as “publication of private facts” is a species of invasion of privacy. You commit this kind of invasion of privacy by publishing private facts about an individual, the publication of which would be offensive to a reasonable person. This legal claim can only be successful, however, if the facts in question are not legitimately newsworthy. So, for instance, if you disclose the fact that your neighbor has an embarrassing health condition, you might be liable for publication of private facts. If, however, this medical condition is particularly relevant to some topic of public interest — say, your neighbor’s fitness to serve in public office, a court might find that your publication is lawful. Determining what facts are of legitimate public concern is often difficult to determine, so you may want to get permission before disclosing potentially embarrassing information about an individual you interview or write about. If your work sometimes involves this kind of publication, then you should see the Publication of Private Facts section for further details.

    Using the Name or Likeness of Another: The legal claim known as “misappropriation of name or likeness” is a species of invasion of privacy. Over time the courts also recognized a legal claim for violation of the “right of publicity,” which is closely related. You commit misappropriation and/or violate the right of publicity when you use an individual’s name, likeness, or other personal attributes without permission for an exploitative purpose. These legal claims usually apply to the use of a name or image in a commercial setting, such as in advertising or other promotional activities, but they may apply anytime you take advantage of another person’s identity for your own benefit. However, individuals cannot stop every mention, discussion, or reporting on their lives or activities, and many states explicitly exempt news reporting and other expressive activities from liability. For example, if you advertise your website using the photograph of a famous rival blogger (or even an unknown rival blogger) without permission, then you might be liable for misappropriation of that person’s likeness. (Another way of saying this is that you might be liable for violating the blogger’s “right of publicity.”) But, if you write an article commenting on the posts of that same blogger and include his picture, you generally won’t be liable for using the blogger’s name without permission or including the photograph for illustrative purposes. If you are interested in using the names or photographs of others, especially celebrities, you should consult Using the Name or Likeness of Another for further details.
    While these laws can create pitfalls for citizen media creators, the risks are manageable and you can take certain steps to protect yourself. Most importantly, if you stick to reporting or commenting on matters of legitimate public interest and only portray people who have a reasonable relationship to your topic, then you generally can avoid liability. You should never use someone’s name or photograph solely to drive traffic to your website, but you are free to cover the public and noteworthy activities of others, including celebrities. “

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