It feels like just yesterday that the world was bustling outside. Stock exchanges were busy with brokers trying desperately to make money, busses and taxis were noisily dropping people to and from work, cars were on the road, bumper to bumper during peak hours and people were milling about with their families, their animals and sometimes by themselves.
Suddenly we have silence. It’s as if we were all part of a movie and a hand from nowhere pressed pause. Pause on the life we knew and pause on the life we are about to know. And much like a movie, no one knows the end, the plot twists, the romance, the comedy. No one knows the genre, our life as a movie even fits into. We have no access to the scriptwriters.
When someone hits the play button on our life, does the movie that is our life take a dramatic turn, suddenly becoming dark and twisted? Does drama or comedy feature? Will this pause be worthwhile?
Life in the time of Corona has to have changed us for the better. It must have taught us that humanity trumps the economy.
In this pause or reflection of our lives, we have people like health care workers exhausted from the work “behind the scenes” to get people better. But alongside them, we have the cashiers at supermarkets, who in real-time don’t earn enough but are now having to put their lives on the line much like the health care worker. The cashier who still has to travel to work, leaving her family behind, who never signed up for any essential service like a nurse, or police yet she is there, also exposed and anxious about the corona virus.
Is there a danger pay or special bonus attached to her salary? Or is there merely desperation attached to her risking her life to feed her family? The same of course could be said about petrol attendants and so forth.
Life during this pause has made some people sit up and finally take note or acknowledge that a deep inequality exists in our society when poor people are standing in queues for water. Water that health professionals the world over tells us is essential to beating this virus. There is an impracticality to the measures we have to take to staying alive because touching taps, using portable loo’s, exposes poor people to the disease every single time.
We are told to listen to the President because his job is difficult. How difficult is it to acknowledge that poor people simply can’t sit under a few squares of metal with so many others for 21 days? Is it difficult to acknowledge that not enough is being done to understand why people in the townships are vulnerable beside the overcrowding of bodies? What about their constant hunger pangs?
If the President makes a mistake or fails to deliver on promises, he gets to keep his job, his house, his money, not so with the poor person but I am being chastised within this pause of our lives because I don’t pity him. I don’t. I pity the people suffering each and every day before corona, during corona, and after corona, because not much would have changed. At least not for them or the exploited, “essential” farmworkers.
Life in the time of corona has taught me that just because you promise something it doesn’t mean you will deliver. And as I see the long line of primarily black and brown pensioners standing in queues waiting for their pittance and read the disparaging racist remarks about how ignorant “those” people are to expose themselves to the disease, I realize that this pause will negatively affect our economy and country way worse than a downgrade from a rating agency.
Our goal should always be humanity before economy because without humanity there is no economy. And hopefully, this time out or pause will help us evaluate our priorities.