Countries in the Far East appear to be turning the tide on Covid 19. Whilst it is unsure how lasting the effect of their efforts will be, their ability to stifle the spread of the virus is indisputable.
Something that these countries all have in common are high levels of discipline and collectivism.
For sure, there are countless other things, including governments that wield drastically more authoritarian power than ours. But as a people, the people of these countries show up with a willingness to serve the greater good, whether it is for family or country. They will set aside and even completely sacrifice self-interest if it will be beneficial for the collective. They take a long-term view of things. Success is thought of in intergenerational terms rather than in terms of immediate gratification. I imagine, that for the vast majority of citizens in these countries, the spectre of self-isolation and social distancing was not even considered daunting, given the implications of the alternative.
Given the history in South Africa of vast chasms between as well as WITHIN demographic groups, how will we foster this kind of collectivism?
How will we understand each other and each other's realities better, rather than hurling our insults and contempt for each other over the proverbial fence and over the interwebs?
I think of the long queues people are standing in today and over the past 3 days to get their groceries. Instead of being met with compassion, they are assaulted with ridicule and insults.
Apparently, there is no cure for stupid. Except, they're not stupid. They're desperate. They're under-resourced. They're uninformed. They are hungry. They have debts to pay to violent loan sharks so not standing in the queue at the bank it not an option. On the footage I saw, the expressions I saw on their faces were strained and fearful.
In CT today, the scenes of people in long snaking queues at butchers and banks were met with ridicule and insults. What if instead, those of us who know better, reach out and show better?
What if we show people how to make makeshift masks with what they have whilst standing in queues. What if we helped people sanitise their hands whilst queueing? What if we helped them to configure their queues in ways to support observing social distance measures?
What if we stop calling people 'dumb F*&$@' as we film them whilst driving past them in the luxury of our air-conditioned sedans whilst they are wilting away in the sun?
What if we instead called the army and the police services to assist if we couldn't?
What if we just thought about ways in which we could help whilst staying safe?
The pensioners get their money on the 30th. They are not going to have access to public transport outside of regulated periods. This is going to result in mass queues again.
Are we going to allow that or will we intervene, will we collectively come up with solutions to keep the safe?
I am not excusing the rabble-rousers who have been partying like its the end of the world. Those buggers must be dealt with to the FULL extent of the law.
We are in this together. Unless we get service and unless we communicate with the underserved, Covid 19 has us and it is Armageddon.
I don't know how yet, but I have figure out how I can help.