A plague journal – Part 2

A plague journal – Part 2

What can we expect or hope for when the pandemic has passed? A massively difficult question, as we have no idea of how badly the economies of the world are going to be damaged. (Sure as hell, it’s going to be tough. Put a donkey through a meat mincer and it ain’t going to be braying any more).

The worst-case scenario is that a capitalism in ruins is so desperate to re-exert itself that it starts behaving like a wounded crocodile.
Of course what I am most hoping for is that we dispose of our current methods of governance and have ourselves run by workers’ collectives (I greet my mum whenever I visit her with a cheery “all power to the collectives!”—surprising she talks to me at all, when you think about it). But then in the immortal words of Oscar Hammerstein, I’m just a cock-eyed optimist.

For sure we shall have learnt something about the virtues of a loving heart, the value of kindness and helpfulness. But that new sensibility needs to be expanded way beyond the directly inter-personal, to build up a sense of world citizenship (a lesson those in the global north, especially, need to learn).

As I write this column (and under these unparalleled circumstances this piece is being written just prior to publication) there is some hope that the Jenner Institute of Oxford University may be on track to develop a cure for coronavirus. If they succeed, it’s imperative that the vaccine be provided free of charge to the poorest nations in the world (for example, a certain landlocked kingdom), together with the financing for distribution and administration.

One of the most dismal stories of this plague year has been Trump’s China-bashing, culminating in his withdrawal of funding for the World Health Organization (at this time!!) on the charge that the WHO had been soft on China’s initial mismanagement of the crisis. Once the pandemic has passed, it will be absolutely necessary that the role of the Chinese government and (possible) errors of judgement on the part of the WHO be investigated, but without demonising China, and with the process conducted by an international organisation, with no interference from the megalomaniac in the White House.

As we have now been sharply, severely reminded, we live in a world that is inhabited by vast numbers of other species. Once we get through, we have to take Climate Rebellion seriously (Greta Thunberg for world supervisor, don’t you think? Or Jocelyn Ardern, the brilliant Prime Minister of New Zealand?). I have a depressing story to tell here about climate devastation.

One of my acquaintances in the UK is a wealthy old man who is lamenting the main impact of the lockdown on his life—he is no longer able to take six holidays a year, in Spain or Malta, travelling by air. Surely that sort of carbon footprint should have been outlawed years ago? The pandemic might prove to be a wake-up call in all sorts of ways.

To round off, a couple of coronavirus jokes. And sorry about this, but all my readers know at the cost of their sanity how much I appreciate surreal and gallows humour.
The first is set in India, and it helps if you know what Indian personal names look like. “All over the Punjab people are asking each other, whoever is this person Soshal Distan Singh?”

The second one was sent to me by internet and is a photo of a massive multi-lane freeway in the USA. Above this is a huge electronic billboard with the message “Want a free coronavirus test? Just send a stool sample to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.”
Take care! And look to a better, safer, kinder future. Whilst the virus can be transmitted through hand contact, the responsibility for a better world lies in everyone’s hands.

Chris Dunton

Previous Mahlaha queries wisdom of restart
Next Goodbye Thabane!

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