I am sure you're sick of coronavirus (ironically) like I am too, but I cannot help thinking how much such an extreme situation outlines the strengths and weaknesses of prevailing systems. I have already written a blog post about this issue, Save The Economy: A Modern Nightmare, but want to delve in with a more personal perspective with this blog post.
What irks me most about the whole coronavirus issue is the division of humanity over it, once again. It seems we can even hate each other when we share a global enemy that was not caused by human nature, like war. Demonstrations make life for already overworked policemen and nurses even more strenuous and the inability to accept that "normal" is just not going to happen anytime soon doesn't seem to sink in with some.
Now, I don't want to say you shouldn't reflect, react and also criticise the measures taken against the coronavirus in general, but does it really help to beat up policemen, refuse to wear face masks and just generally be against everything the government proposes - without offering any solutions yourself? I definitely don't think so and have to say it is really emblematic for the selfishness of our society, as well as the unwillingness to compromise even an inch on the own luxury and convenience for the greater community and claim it is your personal right to put your personal needs above others - which is sadly not only true for the virus but the same with global environmental issues and political problems.
First of all, you should know I am writing this from an Austrian perspective, and I must say that the Austrian government, in my humble opinion, has done a decent job in reacting to the virus. We had a lockdown, but people were always permitted to go for walks, go grocery shopping and meet up with people in their private homes. Now, as May has started, the lockdown has been lifted and most shops reopened - the only condition: you have to wear a face mask and keep your distance as good as possible.
When I and my husband went to IKEA on Saturday to get some baby stuff (we didn't queue, we went in just before it closed), I was shocked to see that people simply didn't seem to care about these precautions. Inside the shopping mall, they sneakily put off their masks despite standing very close to other people and people kept arguing with the poor security staff about the need to wear a mask. I am shocked how little some people care about upholding a stable health system - and, seriously, it's just a stupid cloth over your face, you don't have to sacrifice your firstborn. Get on board!
I get specifically angry when people relate their provocative behaviour to a protest against "limitations to their personal freedom". There are various issues with this statement. First and foremost, no one is taking your freedom away. Face masks have to be worn in public shops and transport, which no one is forced to frequent. Due to online services, it is not necessary to enter any store, and if you don't want to wear a face mask on the bus, take your car. Why should hundreds of staff people and their close relatives be put at risk because you cannot bear breathing through a cloth for a little while?
In addition, the utterance that YOUR personal freedom is at risk is inasmuch problematic because there are always concessions to your personal freedom when you're part of a community - and a state, ideally, is a community, too. If everyone just did what they felt like doing, I am sure very few people would benefit from it. When you are part of a family, a community, a democracy, you benefit from the protection and support of said community, but it also means you cannot completely ruthlessly and selfishly act and do whatever you want whenever it pleases you. These measures are not there to keep us under lock, but an attempt to protect those who are at risk and who also part of the community, so we need to help protect them.
What is so shocking to me is the aforementioned resistance to give up just a little bit of convenience to aid a bigger picture. And I am not talking just about the coronavirus here anymore. Plenty of people have been moaning about the economy - and in many cases rightfully so - but a) what's the alternative? Let hundreds of thousands of people potentially die so 200 people can keep working? and b) many agree, and so do I, that the previous "normal" should not be the solution, as it was, inherently, also the problem.
This selfishness I describe relates to so many other aspects of life - most prominently global warming and the environment. If a return plane ticket only costs €30 and planes leave three times a day to accommodate all the flexible travellers among us, we cannot moan about CO2 emissions and air pollution. If we keep buying the cheap meat where the cow was fed with soy harvested from the rain forest area instead of eating less but better quality, we cannot complain about deforestation. It sometimes feels like we see these problems and agree somebody should do something about it, but the minute it touches our own "perfect" lives, we are out.
I don't mean to be cynical and usually I refrain from getting overly involved in such topics, but I feel the current situation is just so emblematic for the many flaws of our systems - and I wish we could take this situation as an incentive to improve them over time, so the sacrifices weren't for nothing. It is true, in my opinion, that the old "normal" is not a desirable state to return to, as we can clearly see that far too many people deem their personal "freedom" and agenda more valuable than a communal sense, which is definitely not a state I want to get back to.
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