It occurred to me today as I sat down to write another crap journal entry (I’m not enamoured with journalling of late) that I had written almost nothing about the coronavirus.
This struck me as rather odd and a bit navel-gazey. A journal doesn’t have to be all about me. Other things do happen in the world. The Covid19 outbreak will get plenty of historical press but what about first-person accounts? Maybe people will want to know what I felt and did.
Truthfully, my life has changed very little though I’m aware of the profundity of the changes for many. I receive a disability pension so my income is unchanged. I tend to stay in so the strictures to isolate are preaching to the choir. And because my anxiety makes me a tad compulsive about supply levels, we’re unlikely to run out of necessities. I recognize, however, that my reality is mine and things are very different for many others.
The problem with this virus – aside from the fact that it has a high death rate and is reportedly miserable to experience – is it’s highly contagious and very fast. Which means a great many people get sick all at once. Then healthcare and associated industries get overwhelmed and collapse and this continues in concentric circles across a nation until chaos is the order of the day.
Which would be a very bad time.
I often wondered if I’d be involved in a global pandemic. In my imaginings, however, there were zombies. At least Covid19 has spared us that.
But it is not overstating things to say life has changed significantly for many. Irrevocably, in large numbers of cases.
For one thing, we stay in.
Isolation is no longer a “me” thing. It’s the solution. Deny the virus mobility. Lock it down.
If we go out, we stay separate, two metres (six feet) apart. Mostly, we try not to go out. Schools are closed. Parks are off-limits. Businesses are shuttered.
If you travel, there are further restrictions. Quarantine for at least two weeks. Which is hard but has led to some charming social media videos.
You also quarantine if you’re sick. This one is very hard. Those who succumb hard, who perhaps even end up in hospital suffer alone. Die alone. Healthcare workers in PPEs (personal protective equipment) are the only ones who are there. They are the heroes of the hour.
The goal is to stop the spread. Keep everyone apart for the good of all, until there are no new cases and the last virus is dead.
But “in” is a different way of living for most. We are, in the developed world, out a lot. There are things to do everywhere. We watch sports. We go to restaurants and pubs. We go to movies and concerts. We spend time in parks and at the beach. We congregate. We spend money. We’re very busy people. Look at us zipping here and there, doing “important” things, racking up the mileage.
Our lifestyles make oil and gas companies very happy.
A funny thing has happened with the virus and staying in. Sales are down. People doing things with their families is up. The sense of collective community is growing. Turns out consumer-based capitalism is not the only model for life.
The world itself is changing as we stay in. Apparently, our actions make a difference. The skies are clearing. Waters are becoming less polluted in places. The world is benefitting from our downtime.
A helicopter flew overhead the other day while I was sitting on the porch. It startled me. The skies here have been quiet of late.
I remember when a plane flying overhead was a matter of some interest. How quickly we become blasé.
The virus is an interesting thing. It will devastate the world and collapse economies. The death toll for some populations is going to be outrageous. But it will end. This begs the question:
What do we do next?
I have no doubt it will be business as usual. I don’t doubt that leaders and movers and shakers are eager to get the capitalism and corporate democracy train rolling. Heaven forbid we pause for a moment, pay attention to what we’ve learned, and move forward in a different direction.
What if we did things differently once this latest challenge was in the rear-view mirror? We are at a point where world leaders could get together and make significant changes to how we function.
What if we all agreed that most of us do work too hard for too little reward? What if we all realized there’s a limit to the amount of stuff that makes us happy and purchases beyond a certain point are just diminishing returns? What if we came back around to the idea that it’s people and relationships and communities that are important?
What if the leaders of the world got together and decided to wipe out the idea of international debt? Just get rid of it all. Start fresh. Do it domestically too. Why not?
What if we decided that salaries for c-level jobs should not be four hundred times that of an entry-level employee and set up rules to that effect?
What if we had a one-time-only reallocation of assets and set up outer limits for how much money and power any one person or corporation can have? What if we got rid of multi-billionaires?
What if world leaders realized that working collectively for the betterment of all was a better idea than racing to nowhere or trying to secure immortality by taking over a nation-state for their selfish rewards?
What if we worked on making technology accessible and beneficial to all?
What if we realized the changes that will help us ease back from a climate disaster are possible?
What if we learned?
I expect absolutely none of this to occur. I expect we’ll crawl out of our cocoons not butterflies but the same old caterpillars that went in.
But wouldn’t it be nice?