yes another soapbox

With Tantrum Trump monopolizing the fields of satire, disruption and outrage, and Covid-19 dominating global grief, conspiracy garbage, and pandemic death – it’s difficult to get a handle on the events that have consumed life in 2020 – everywhere and for everyone (though some more or less so than others). That Trump exists is an indisputable fact – It’s not a fake truth or a figment of anyone’s imagination – a nightmare, yes, for many and also a blessing for millions of others. That Trump is President of the USA is also a fact. Covid-18 / the Coronavirus pandemic is also a fact. It isn’t a fake truth. Around the world there are recorded infections, recoveries from those infections and death. This is also a fact. Though the statistics are being debated and ‘weaponised’ to support varying positions regarding the pandemic (what it is. Where is started, how it started, how to deal with it etc). The statistics, broadly speaking, are not happiness inducing reading. 1.6 million recorded cases of infection (and rising), well over 96,000 recorded deaths (and rising) globally. The pandemic has brought the world economy to its knees. Covid-19 has had a greater impact on the world’s economies, on the environment and on everyday life than the last notable catastrophe – the 2007-2008 world financial crisis – considered to be equivalent to the great depression (in the USA) of the 30s. The collapse of the Lehman Brothers banking empire and what followed , cost the USA economy alone – 22 trillion united states dollars. There were quite a few bankruptcies I guess, and home foreclosures. It was major. But everyday life continued throughout the world. No one had to wear masks and haircuts were not endangered (unless you lost your hair through worry or didn’t have a nickel to pay for a haircut).

The pandemic is costing the USA over 2 trillion united states dollars a month –  through measures taken to combat the existence and spread of the virus. The social disruption is profound and taking place (in one way or another) everywhere in the country.

The United States is the mightiest nation state on the planet earth. It is the richest (the top 6 richest companies in the world are American – places 1 through 6 are held by: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Berkshire Hathaway (Mr Buffet’s business), Facebook. Walmart is top of the Forbes list of top companies (worth 480 billion united states dollars). America has, by far, the largest number of billionaires (585). It’s military budget is 717 billion united states dollars (per annum) – compare that with China’s paltry 117 billion united states dollars. In so many ways the USA is the land of opportunity – those figures prove it – right?

There are also further great opportunities on offer. America has the biggest prison population in the world – with over 2 million residing in its (often) privatized penitentiaries. That is 724 people per 100,000 people reside in prison. America also leads the ‘modern’, ‘industrialized’ nations for levels of obesity. So if you are into being overweight and hanging out in prison – America looks like a good choice.

America is also where most of the world’s catastrophe’s take place – from Dante’s Peak, Independence day, and contagion.

So I guess it is only fitting that America leads the way with figures for Vovid-19. Leading the world with over 1.6 million recorded cases of infection (fortunately 310,000 recoveries recorded). So far America has suffered over 95,000 deaths as a result of the virus. That is almost one third of the world’s total. That is a fact (not down to the last digit perhaps but the general truth is indisputable). Think about it. Let that sink in. This is the richest, mightiest nation on the planet earth fielding that ‘success’ story – led by the most stable genius one can imagine.

I am sickened by the narratives doing the rounds, regarding economics over health. This trickle of sicko comments about some people destined to die anyway – who need to be sacrificed for the greater economic good of the country. I am sick of the frenzy of conspiracy rubbish flooding the internet and chat rooms and social media.

But when I say I am sick of it – I’m not really sick of it. It irritates the shit out of me when I let it. So I try not to let it.

Behind every one of those statistics – infected, recovered and dead. Are real people. Real suffering and grief. Real healthcare workers, nurses and doctors dealing with this on a daily basis. There is still very real poverty throughout the world. There is hunger, social injustice, political prisoners rotting away in prisons throughout the world. There are women being raped and abused throughout the world. There is all of this and there is a pandemic currently on the move throughout the world. It’s a fact not a fiction. How we deal with it is a work in progress. Everything we do now is also laying the foundations for how we deal with something like this in the future. We were not prepared, and we should have been. But next time we should be.

In terms of ‘getting back to normal’, getting back to how life was before Covid-19) – well quite frankly – count me out on that one. Society and the world were not looking that rosy as 2019 drew to an end.

This is an opportunity to not ‘get back to normal’ but rather to redesign, recalibrate, reinvent, rethink almost everything. Because everything was not all okay. The environment was not okay. The bullshit levels of consumerism (and sweatshops and exploitation) was not okay. The rat race and ridiculous pace of life was not okay. Just a couple of months of this or that level of ‘lock-down’ has removed various veils and shown up a plethora of flaws in the system.

It is difficult getting a handle on what has been going on and what is going on and how the situation will unfold. These are very different times. There have been changes of a profound and rapid nature and they will continue. And we know how a lot of people (ourselves included) feel about change. Right?

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