So here we are, what a year. Tragic, challenging, divisive, yet also filled with heart-warming moments and the odd triumph of human resourcefulness.
As I sit here and write, it’s November the 3rd (yes I’m cutting it fine). Parts of Europe are going back into lockdown as cases and deaths rise, and their modelling shows the strain on various health systems will not be far behind without this action. The US is an escalating disaster, as their health system and questionable version of democracy teeters on the brink.
For those that clung to the Swedish example – basically Sky News, business organisations and other right wing or financial influencers – with that nation’s chief epidemiologist coming out in the last few days and denouncing herd immunity as neither viable nor ethical, one might suggest that they too have backed the wrong horse. Not that they would admit it of course, they’ve already moved on to phase 2 of the blame game. Yet by the time you read this Sweden’s case numbers will have hit 125,000, and deaths unfortunately surpassed the 6,000 mark.
I know where I’d rather be right now.
The demands for Melbourne to open up now look short-sighted at best, and selfish at worst. Out of necessity, this has been an “all in’’ process – go half-arsed and we’re Europe or the US in a heartbeat. Yet ask any “opener” if we should open our international borders, and a resounding “hell no’’ is the answer. Basically they want to pick and choose as suits them personally, but COVID doesn’t give us that option, any actions will affect us all.
And just as we must all follow the precautions for the benefit of society for the time being, we aren’t going to be able to sit in our bedrooms all day either, paralysed with fear. Our place as Arts & Culture capital of Australia will challenge us as we come to terms with restrictions on our great theatres, sporting events, cafe culture and diverse neighbourhoods. These are the ways we traditionally live, come together, and celebrate – its Melbourne defined.
Yes technology has been our friend, our personal assistant, our aide, but we must not forget about people. I’m reminded of a quote from Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT: “We expect more from technology and less from each other.”
That will change, correct itself – your community is going to need you.
Support the businesses that have been shuttered. Buy and shop local. Give what you can of yourself. And make safe choices for all.
Managing Editor, The Westsider