By Janet Kimani
In countries that have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic such as Italy, many are comparing the experience to World War II, which took place way before many of us today were born. It would be correct, therefore, to say that for most of us, these are unprecedented times.
This pandemic has forced all of us to retreat, to stay put, and to think about how we got here. We have all, collectively as a human race, been stopped dead in our tracks to ponder our lives; the endless mindless rush that defined our lives and perhaps even led us to this predicament, or at least accelerated its arrival.
Having to stay home, has not been all bad for some. For starters, having a home to retreat to is one. Moreover, many people have received the slowdown they had been craving for so long, to reconnect with themselves and their loved ones. For some, it has been a chance to advance projects they had been putting off for when they had more time, like decluttering, gardening, or even simply watching their favourite shows. All these may seem superficial, but it’s true; from social media, we can see people all over the world finding a sort of peace with having a chance to “take it easy” as they wait for the madness outside their homes to come to an end, after which they can resume normal life.
However, experiencing the lockdown in such a manner is a luxury not everyone has been afforded. As much as this pandemic has shown us the beauty of slowing down through some positive effects on us and our planet, it has also revealed the grisly reality of some of the foundations that underlie our current societies. Predominantly this beast of global inequalities has reared its grotesque head for all to see, and demands that we, once and for all, look it in the eyes and face it.
What does “social distancing” mean to someone living in a slum where not even the house itself can maintain the recommended meter distance? What does maintaining a balanced diet mean when you can barely manage a full meal on any day of the week? And what does self quarantine mean when you live in a one-bedroom house with up to six other people, making it impossible to spend endless hours cooped up inside? And how can one wash their hands regularly, when access to clean water remains a pipe dream?
While all these might sound far fetched for those living in more privileged realities, this is the lamentable reality especially in many parts of the developing world; a reality that prevents millions from the luxuries of having productive, restful, or even hopeful moments amidst this pandemic.
So, the next time we post #stayhome, let’s keep in mind those who cannot, be grateful that we can, and think of what we can do to bridge that gap.
- What can individual governments do to support their most vulnerable citizens?
- In the end who will be the biggest losers from this pandemic?
- Will the pandemic alleviate or exacerbate global inequalities?
- What can you do to bridge the gap?
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