The End of the Beginning

Haven’t written for a while because… well, I have been learning Gaelic and writing films and scripts and then just generally mooching around in a funk due to being cooped up most of the time but now it looks like I might have to leave the house. The lockdown is easing off – as if it were a bout of sciatica – and in some respects we are heading back to a form of normality.
And that’s a bad thing.
I’m not just talking about the Covid, obviously. Anything that means fewer people are falling ill and dying is good by definition. No, as far as Covid goes I have not really changed my mindset there. I swing between being relaxed and optimistic or panicked and angry. There are less than 1000 cases in Scotland currently and 600 of them are in the hospital. At time of writing there are about 6 people in intensive care and for all I know they were all in the same 7 seater coming back from a barbecue – the chances of me actually meeting someone with coronavirus is quite slim. Of course if I do then I’m dead but hey ho.
That tension has not changed. What has changed is the rest of the world. Coronavirus might be under control in Scotland but a brief look at the news or the numbers on the internet tells you that we aren’t anywhere near the end. These are the numbers for Scotland. Look at the red line.
The shape is very familiar to us now and it is seen throughout the world where the virus has been brought under control. I speak only as a normal civilian, no expert on stats or epidemiology (not even sure I have spelled it right) but does that red line look like this one?
No. It doesn’t. The graph above is the number of cases in the world at the moment and if the shape of the graph is anything to go by then we are only just starting. If you take the world as one place (and despite what the politicians say, it absolutely is one place, I checked) then we are still at the start. That graph in blue does resemble one part of the previous one.
If it resembles anything it resembles the start. It’s just about to take off… just about to… I don’t even want to think about it.
As I said, I am not expert but the shape of that curve doesn’t fill me with hope. Just in case you think the graph I have picked is exceptional this is New Zealand.
And this is the United States…
You can think that the progression from here will somehow be different (and I hope someone can tell me how it might be) but every time a country has decided that they can deal with this thing differently the virus has quickly taught them otherwise. It’s not gambling and it’s not luck. The virus moves in mathematical fashion. At this point there are a little over half a million dead across the world with over 12 million cases. The humanitarian disaster ahead is something we haven’t seen in decades, if ever.
And it was only last night that I realised the truth. Yes this is a public health issue. Yes this is an economic issue. But when you get right down to it – this is (and is going to be) a political issue.
I always knew the system was less than optimal. I knew it was less than moral, but it has taken the coronavirus to show us just how bad our system is. The graphs are all the same shape in the developed west but now the virus has reached the developing countries…
That’s Peru. It’s the same all over the world and it is just beginning. Do we imagine that these street vendors are protesting a lockdown for reasons of ideology? Do they have some credo that requires constant work in a dangerous environment?
Or do they need to eat?
You don’t need to watch the entire video. It has faith workers trying to heal through prayer, there are right wing gun nuts who believe that the media is inflating the scale of the problem by associating every death with coronovirus and it has mass graves… so many graves. But what I see is the poverty. They can’t run away. They can’t socially distance because the living spaces are so cramped. They can’t not work because that just means hunger or homelessness or both. For billions and billions of people their normal lives mean they risk death and bereavement. Watching the news (and it is easy to find these videos, it took seconds and I couldn’t possibly watch them all) I am struck by how poorly humanity has done.
Yes, we have the internet and satellites and we can criss-cross the globe. In some countries we have an astonishing amount of wealth. But that’s not the ‘normal’ for a great many people. Even in rich countries like the USA normal can be poverty and insecurity and grief.
So, yes. I do want the virus to go away but no, I don’t want everything going back to normal.
Normal sucks.
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