As Covid-19 Easter approaches, I am struck with the awareness of the unusual juxtaposition which life has taken on for many of us living across the western world. For while death tolls continue to grow, we, the isolated unaffected by personal loss, are watching spring unfold outside our windows. With many or all responsibilities outside the home suspended our fast paced lives have come to a standstill, and for the most part I think it is doing us a lot of good. Many families feel more connected. Those whose jobs and social obligations regularly deprive them of getting a full nights sleep are feeling rested.
I’ve always believed in finding a silver lining, to look at the brighter side of things, but it seems disrespectful in light of the many people who have already died, and the many people who will succumb to the Covid-19 Virus before we’re through this crisis.
The fact is, understanding the terrible tolls of Covid-19 pandemic whilst one enjoys a holiday at home creates a kind of cognitive dissonance. How this dissonance is processed varies from person to person. I could see people feeling guilt at enjoying a much needed rest at home. I can understand feelings of anger being misdirected as a result of this crisis. I can likewise predict that others might become strikingly unsympathetic in order to resolve their inner dissonance. Or worse still, to form the opinion that this pandemic is not as serious as ‘the media’ makes it appear, and break their isolation. Many people are feeling helpless, or helpless to help.
I choose to hope.
There is another way to reconcile the juxtaposition of personal wellness in these pandemic times. We can give meaning to things. We’re homo sapiens, we assign meaning to arbitrary occurrences all the time, without much conscious intent. We can frame and reframe how we interpret the world. And so we can give meaning to the victims of this pandemic by insisting to ourselves that they will not have died in vain so long as we, the isolated, the safe, build a better world post Covid-19.
This is my hope. A post pandemic world in which we, on mass, choose Health over Wealth.
That people realise that each and every one of us does make a difference. Because fixing the problems that have lead us to this crisis is an incredibly multifaceted task. To look at a single facet, lets consider the problem of parents sending their kids to school when they are sick.
People don’t send their sick children into school because they think it’s the best thing to do. They do so because they don’t have alternative child care options and they cannot afford to take the time off from work.
Fortunately the fact that many people are currently doing what work they can from home will likely see the rise of employers creating more work from home options post Covid-19, because it is extremely cost effective, which will allow more adults and children to stay at home. Hopefully employers will also provide employees a far more adequate number of sick or emergency days than we are used to seeing.
Obviously voting for Universal Healthcare will greatly support the Health over Wealth campaign.
Unfortunately making significant changes in any political or administrative arena tends to be slow and difficult, which is of course what has exasperated the spread of Covid-19 in many countries. And in the meantime sick children will once again be sent to school.
So we must bridge the system where it is broken. Its time to stop arguing which administration is to blame, and time to step up and fix the problems that plague our communities ourselves.
Let us take the example given above, of keeping illnesses out of our schools. Most households have two working parents, so we must provide a places in our communities where parents can drop their sick children off, rather then send them to school in order to assure their child is supervised and safe. Surely every community has spaces that are unused during the the school days, whether that space is donated for use as a sick children day center by private individuals, or the town council, is irrelevant. If we all work together we can find a space as well as volunteers to look after the children. An article in the local paper can be very useful in drumming up both volunteers and donations to furnish the space, and will reach a different circle of people within your community than online promotion - which is of course the other way of gathering people to your cause. Reach out to your local hospital or nursing college to see if you can establish a roster of volunteers to stop by the center for sick children before or after their shift, so that parents can be alerted if their child should see a doctor. And so forth.
If you think about it, many great programs got started in this way. Breakfast clubs are now funded by various governments and charities, though they originally started through volunteers in schools.
Just about every great change began with a handful of people united on a single platform.
I believe every person can reshape themselves, and grow to become who they always wanted to be. It is also my observation that sadly few people actually do so. And whilst this sounds discouraging, it is not. Because those few people who truly turn their lives around and become who they want to be, and in turn shape the world for the better, almost always do so after something has occurred to force their life to a standstill. That’s us right now. We’re at a standstill. So not only is it possible that in a post Covid-19 world we collectively rebuild our communities to place Health over Wealth, it is highly plausible.
Please think about it.
There are so many ways in which we can collectively solve all sorts of unhealthy problems in our communities.
To me, Health over Wealth is as much a social movement as anything else. A simple message with which we can all agree, yet when we really think about it, we all too often neglect our own health.
We don’t get enough sleep, we over-indulge, we don’t get enough exercise; in some ways most of us neglect our health. We have our reasons of course. We do it for financial security, or for our children, or for our parents, and I understand. I’ve been less than kind to myself in the past.
But wouldn’t it be better, to live in a world where it doesn’t have to be so?
My parents are both fans of status symbols. The houses they owned while I was living with them were always excessively large, and furnished to impress, but in winter you’d always have to wear a sweater indoors, because it took a lot of oil to properly heat the place, and you cant see the temperature when driving by. To this day I don’t know why it was so important for them to impress other people, but I tell you this, it doesn’t make them happy.
So why do it? Why do so many people annually buy a new TV, because it’s slightly bigger, or On Sale? What is the worth of a diamond if not the implied price tag? And every time we say ‘wow’, ‘good for you’, or ‘you’ve earned it’, we reinforce to that individual that this was the best thing to do with their hard-earned money. I suppose reinforcing status symbols through compliments makes the owner of the symbol feel important and respected.
I don’t know about you, but I feel a hell of a lot of respect for everyone working in a hospital right now. And while you thought about those brave hardworking folk, you didn’t draw a distinction between the nurses and doctors, the interns and volunteers. Why would you? They’re all doing incredible work under the worst of circumstances in order to save as many lives as they possible can. They’re not concerned with the wealth or social status of their patients, just their health. Just like you didn’t see the need to distinguish the our medical heroes by pay grade.
Sadly, despite everyone’s best efforts, about 1000 People died of Covid-19 since I started writing this article yesterday. But we can build a better future in their honour, and a healthier future for us all.
Stay Isolated, stay healthy, and think about changing your world for the better.