We’re in the midst of the whole COVID-19 crisis at the moment and I just wanted to take a little pause to just blog some thoughts.
There’s a number of words like unprecedented which have ended up being thrown around at the moment. And, while they’re being thrown around, they’re the kind of words that have a lot of weight. This really is unprecedented. There really isn’t any previous examples, or source of knowledge that we can draw on to work out what to do next. The sheer size and the scale of what’s coming, or what’s been, is honestly unimaginable. There’s a lot of great people doing a lot of great things. They’re gathering a lot of important data and information. But at the same time it’s hard to see how they all connect, a lot has to do with how they are being framed, where we are willing to go to next.
There isn’t clarity. But that’s 100% understandable. This isn’t normal. But I think there’s a reluctance to admit that we don’t know what we’re doing. There’s a reluctance to put in any hard and definitive parameters, until it becomes the last resort.
And that’s another phrase which is getting thrown around that really does have meaning and weight to the current situation that we’re in. Because the last result is an absolute last resort for a lot of people who’s lives are at stake. We’re not talking tens of lives we’re talking hundreds and thousands, and in a global pandemic we’re actually talking about millions of people. Millions of lives and millions of deaths.
I think that’s to most of us that’s just unfathomable. Despite the fact that we’re living in this quantified world, the numbers have rarely meany anything. They can be abstracted away from what they represent. It’s even true when we talk about COVID-19, when the response is not about lives but framed on its effect on the fucking economy.
We’re really starting to expose the hypocrisy and contradictions of our modern way of life. We’re just starting to see the stark reality of out lives and out decisions. For the first time in a long time we are all making decisions that can kill people. No-one wants to make those decisions and from what we see on the news, no-one wants to take ownership of those decisions – but that’s what happens in this a crisis.
I’m struggling with is that there doesn’t seem to be any recognition of that.
No one is willing to show acceptance or responsibility for the state we find ourselves in the moment. And yes these are unprecedented times, but the decisions made now are going to have profound impacts on the lives of millions of people around the world.
What we’re starting to see really is the interplay of something I’ve always been interested in – the dichotomy between local and global. What we have at the moment is a global problem. But there are local instances of that problem, and while deeply connected, they’re also not. They’re individualised and experienced differently in their locality. So when we’re talking about Australia and Australia’s response and situation, that isn’t the same as the one living here in in Adelaide. It’s very different to the experience in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane. In the same way it is similar and different to that in Bergamo and New York.
The reality in Adelaide is that we’re well across the testing of the disease, we’re not a major international hub, and quarantine measures have been pretty effective. That’s not the case in the rest of Australia, so while we are going through the same thing it feels different.
One of the problem is that media isn’t filtered in by locality any more. It’s a side effect of scale and globalisation. The media that we consume, isn’t local but at an that international scale. So our lived experience now has to compete with what’s happening in Italy, and what’s happening in Sydney, and what’s happening all around the world.
We’re all trying to internalise that information, and for most people that’s incredibly difficult. For me, I’m trying to make decisions for myself and my family, about how we want to proceed next week, and it’s incredibly hard.
I don’t know if it’s wrong to go to work on Monday. I don’t know if it’s wrong to send my child to school on Monday. I’m starting to grapple with making decisions that have real consequences for once. This isn’t about choosing the right clothes to wear or which car to buy or which toothpaste suits your mood. This isn’t bullshit anymore. Each decision is consequential, and so they’re really hard to make. They’ve got such huge consequences because we’re not impacting ourselves, or our ego or perception – it’s the lives of our entire family, our community and our friends. How do we feel if we get infected and the pass it on? The consequences are can be quite horrifying.
It pains me that the response to all this was to go and buy all the fucking toilet paper in the supermarket. It pains me that our response can be so ridiculous. In this time of need that we panicked and didn’t stop to think about what was going on.
And honestly that’s the thing that I would like more than anything else at the moment — the space to stop. The right to stop, and to think. I believe the best thing a government could do, is to say that “as a nation we’re just gonna stop for a couple of days, and take time out and get our shit together”. To tell everyone – “don’t worry, we’ll pick up the bill, what ever it costs, just take some time to sort yourselves out and we’ll do the same”.
The reality is that the reason why we’re all on edge is because the bills don’t stop. Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean money become a non object. Even when things get hairy we still need money to buy food, to pay the rent or the mortgage or the bills.
It’s times like these that we start to really think about what matters to us. Our modern lives just bombard us with complications and choices. Progress today is symbolised by the 55 variations of toothpaste, the wide selection of ‘milks’, the cheap throwaway clothing and the endless bombardment of advertising.
It’s moments like this where we realise that we’ve bought into so much pointless shit, and that we need to simplify out lives and pursue what actually matters. How do we pare back on this? How do we just focus on making the decisions that get us through life, rather than focussing on the trivialities that are thrust upon us and which ultimately make us confused, sad and depressed? How do we change that and focus instead on what makes us feel connected, loved and wanted and reciprocating those feelings with people in our lives that are willing to share.
I need to take some time tomorrow to actually ask myself some of these questions. To think about what the fuck am I going to do on Monday. To think about what I tell my colleagues and my team and what I can offer to them at the moment. I don’t know, I’ve got nothing to draw on, and no experience in anything related to this.
But that’s all of us, right?
Stay safe everyone!