Did COVID-19 trigger a re-balancing of our society?

By R.D. Miller

The game changer

Shortly after COVID-19 emerged out of China based on the reports, other places like Spain locked down its nation of 46 million people; while other nations scramble desperately to impose restrictions. The domino effect has also struck many Caribbean shores. Based on the published report to date; the rare virus has infected more than 597,252 people worldwide and killed over 27,000 and still counting.

Before COVID-19 surfaced globally, conflicts seem everywhere; from racial, economic-divide over wages and the widen gap-between the haves and have-nots; environmental, housing price skyrocketing, political corruption, gentrification debate, gun-violence, significant violence against women, student loans, missing students, border crossings. These events seem to have instantly become the daily norm, and some of us became immune; or turned away.

In some parts of the world, geopolitical issues caused a massive exodus of local people fleeing their land due to safety reasons, freedom from discrimination, poverty, and ideologic polarization. Subconsciously many of us looking in are destitute, helpless and for some the sole issue for that day maybe the length of the lush grass, delayed online delivery; the number of likes on social media, or how I look today.

To be clear many of us are products of our environment by birth or migration. This is not an indictment on success and freedom and despite the economic stability, it can change rapidly.

Sadly, numerous poor populations face a higher risk of pandemics. However, when some in our society have developed a mentality that anytime these things occur, they must look to the world’s poorest countries with economic challenge and immediately isolate them. But COVOD-19 provided a temporary mental shift while some eagerly and passively await these nations’ infection numbers.

The re-balancing

Since COVID-19 emerged, the price of oil has dropped and the global financial market crashed. Major airlines are cutting back as much as 40 percent of operations, stores have reduced hours and financial experts are predicting a global recession.

This new normal has affected everyone. I equally find myself the last few days explaining to a few local people along the shopping aisle that the only difference in some store brand, after being asked about an item in my cart; because luxury items they are accustomed to buying were no longer on the convenient shelves.

When society becomes more isolated from greed, violence, and social decay: it is inevitable these things will occur. It seems that this is completely a re-balancing of our society, and while some impose their power on others, this virus only shows us how powerless we all are.

Several stores many affluent communities once overlooked or few never knew existed,  and where these cultural hubs carry daily supplies tucked inside a strip mall, vital to the local community and a place where many purchase familiar food items from their native land.

These markets remain a place that serves as a social connection hub. These global markets are like any major chain, but supports a broad range of Caribbean, African and Asian, and Latin products.

Late Friday evening, I was getting prepared to stack up two-weeks of critical supplies as suggested by the experts. Before long after I pulled into an international store parking space; someone I have never recognized on this block in over 15 years of shopping at this location, pulled beside me. He did not look like the typical customers who navigate these isles, or this expensive vehicle observed on this side of town.

“Maybe, this person owns the mall,” I thought. From the initial hello, that led to; “have you been here before?”

“Yes, “this is where I shop for many years,” I replied.

“I heard that the sore has lots of disinfection stuff here because it is nowhere else.”

“They have plenty of items, and a hidden treasure in the community, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetable,” I replied.

“Have a good one,” he said. “You too” I replied.

We went in together. I directed him to the detergent area and disappeared into a separate aisle. This is one of many stories since the outbreak people have discovered new shopping areas that were overlooked. Will it improve the way we interact with each other, even over cleaning products, a roll of toilet paper? I remain hopeful.

As supplies became less, tempers escalated and reported fights stemming from greed over items like toilet paper. Few fights made it to social media for a good laugh, but it also shows that regardless of social class, basic needs for survival are universal. But equally essential, new bonds are established in the shopping aisles over COVID-19.

While experts recommend social distance for our safety, it has brought people in a strange way across all strata in life. It has taken on a new psychological assessment, structured in baselines epidemiological analysis from identifying risk factors to how, and where we get the supplies we need for survival.

The Politics:

Yes, COVID-19 dynamics and intervention effectiveness remain unknown and have created confusion, concerns, minimization, blame such as during the height of the Aids-HIV epidemic and other outbreaks. It has exposed how prepared these nations were after selling a false sense of security, but when the reality strikes, it developed to – do what we say, but with little or no resources to implement these suggestions.

Curtailing a challenging widespread disease, society will examine politicians and organizations. Each attempt at the decision process to have better medical systems in place, to well-trained staff is pivotal to mitigate these issues.

Although this remains an un-explainable axis; expert analysis proved to be vital in reducing the spread of this disease. On the other hand, few attach their ideology to believe that it is their issue and not us.

Today we need further deep analysis both qualitative and quantitative data on many fronts, where places like the Caribbean islands, poor and developing countries, where the dynamics on preparedness are suspicious or source from distrust woven from colonialism, inequality, rampant violence, and economic poverty where fear takes over fact, panic will set in as local governments try to put out the best to ease frustration.

In some countries, the sub-conscious political campaign has been over COVID-19. Even an idea of an opposition party can become the blame game; which some argued results in more press conferences than bed spaces to carefully help victims are placed ahead of the political game.

No longer over there

Sure, there is fear because of what experts reported that it may have started in China, and these establishments especially restaurants, suffered from the lack of customers, as some believed that these people just arrived at their location from China.

What if they had mentioned that it came from the Africa Continent?

I have also seen many new social media accounts created. It has helped people to stay connected and educated across race, culture, and socio-economic status.

But now COVID-19 rips; it is no longer them over there, that group, color, class, race, or location. Today, it may be the private person who owns the mall where you buy your local groceries or the one sitting in the board room at an economic policy meeting.

As COVID-19 trudges on like the once colonial quest seizing everything in its path and forced society to adapt, such as; the Galápagos turtles, where one has a more elongated neck because its existence depends on eating from trees, and the other has a shorter neck as its survival depends on the grass it grazes.

Ultimately, medical experts will utilize the data to determine both innate and adaptive immunity, but for now; we represent all turtles, and at some point, we must come out for survival because everyone needs living in a society free from disease; brutal violence, intolerance and with the dire possibility for personal prosperity. Leaders should be inadequately prepared to serve their people to account for these changes.

Regardless of race sex, creed, color, location or economic status, I sat here today hoping for the best because we may not know each other, but even for once; we are carefully looking before forming an opinion because you do not recognize my COVID-19 status.

Stay Safe!

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