I overheard a conversation recently in which the persons involved were lamenting, “Covid not playing with us, and we playing with it.” I reflected on the essence of the discussion and I contemplated in my own mind that we are in fact living in interesting times. The only thing certain in these times (outside of salvation) is the uncertainty of the times we live in.
I have done a bit of travel in my time, and the more I reflect on the state of the travel industry it makes me wonder how uncertain the time really is. The way in which everything has shut down; the frequency of airlines failing; and the widespread closure of the hospitality sector locally, regionally and internationally leave us all almost in a state of complete bewilderment.
Those of us who pay careful attention to the news and those who dare to read further are left wondering out loud, “Where are we headed?” Is there any light at the end of the proverbial rainbow, or are we “chasing rainbows?”
The degree of uncertainty can drive us into an irreversible depressive situation brought on simply by the fear and the magnitude of that fear. But I am reminded that fear means “false evidence appearing real” and hope springs eternal. One of the certainties of the present is the dire need to manage fear and to practise “fear distancing.”
In the VI
Here in the Virgin Islands — like most countries and territories, I suppose — we have to struggle with difficult issues. When do we get back to normal, if that is possible? How do we open our borders, and what are the risks in doing so? How are we to welcome back visitors to our shores, and what are the safety precautions necessary to do so? This list is by no means exhaustive, and the questions are very real, requiring timely and realistic answers.
Covid-19 is as real as it gets, and it is certainly not playing with us unless we are engaging in a game of Russian Roulette. I have had reason to sit and contemplate what it would be like if we had two or three residents die from this virus or even if we had a few prominent people infected who became dangerously ill. We have grown so accustomed to being able to leave these shores, whether deliberately or by necessity, to seek medical attention overseas that in the present circumstances of “the new normal,” I wonder what that would mean.
It makes me wonder about our individual responsibilities to ourselves and to each other. The government has its job to do. What is our job as citizens of the territory? The bulk of the knowledge accumulated thus far indicates that there are three basic and fundamental aspects to hopefully beating this virus. One of these is primarily the domain of governmental authorities, but the other two are the domain of each of us.
Testing, whether the swabs or antibodies (and ultimately widespread vaccination), is for the government to execute. The other two — social distancing and the wearing of masks in the public space — are our individual and collective responsibility.
We have to ask ourselves the obvious question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Maybe the “new normal” should in fact revolve around that very point and remind us all that I am not well if my brother is not well. I thought that was one of the lessons of the lockdown: We all had to do it to protect each other.
We should constantly reminisce on the thought that Covid not playing with us, so we should not play with it. Let us not celebrate too early. We might be winning but the journey still has an uncertain distance to go. This is not the time to lose sight of what we all need to do to protect each other. Our individual lives might very well depend on this commitment.
In the words of an article I read recently, “There will be celebrations as the pandemic recedes, but there may not be any clear point when the threat of infection is over.” Remember the territory’s motto: Vigilate.