This all really brings to mind the article I published in Medium last month,“WHEN I THINK ABOUT AMERICA” and that this is Indigenous values vs. Western values in a nutshell. Being giving/sharing, concerned about community, cooperation vs. competitive, self-centered, taking/saving (while others are in need), skeptical.
The excerpt is from a letter: By Dr. Sharkawy On COVID-19: “I’m a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared. Mostly, I’m scared what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, open-mindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.”
Another excellent reality check written by Mike Davis- Not advocating an political position, but this is spot on, THE MONSTER IS FINALLY AT THE DOOR.
“The danger to the global poor has been almost totally ignored by journalists and Western governments. History shows that poorer people and countries suffered most from epidemics. The Spanish Flu of 1918 is just one example.”
“The outbreak has instantly exposed the stark class divide in healthcare: those with good health plans who can also work or teach from home are comfortably isolated provided they follow prudent safeguards. Public employees and other groups of unionized workers with decent coverage will have to make difficult choices between income and protection.
Meanwhile millions of low wage service workers, farm employees, uncovered contingent workers, the unemployed and the homeless will be thrown to the wolves.”
To be able to stockpile material goods, one must have savings, money. Money beyond the paycheck-to-paycheck or for us freelancers, with jobs, universities and other venues closing, that can mean we have zero income. As freelancers or those in jobs with less benefits, you have to make the choice between becoming homeless, without even basic necessities and going out to try to find some paying work, exposing yourself to the virus. Just in self-quarantining as suggested, but with little or no food, necessities anyway, especially if you have children or pets, may need medications? That is the reality for millions, and can only increase even if strictures loosen in the next weeks, as the economies of all countries will take a significant hit. So for those saying, “Calm down! Just stay at home.” I’m absolutely sure, you have necessities, you have savings, you have those privileges that help you to better remain calm.
While many of us are not in the demographics currently being affected fatally, the issue of lung damage will remain if you contract and survive covid19. That doesn’t go away. The short-sighted thinking and self-centered “every man/woman for himself”, and that eternal European rationalization “I’m just trying to take care of my family!” while knowingly contributing to behaviors and practices that take or reduce the lives of others…. We’ve seen an upswing in racism, xenophobia and cruelty, there’s no other word for it, in western society in the last couple of decades. What’s happening now is no surprise.
Where I live in Germany, the city I live, in a rather out-lying district, I’ve been out trying to find some goods to get us by. But when you have little money anyway the crazy rush to buy up toilet paper, hand sanitizer and non-perishables isn’t something you can do. While many shelves are empty, and of course, many older people have to go out to get basic goods, many of them too cannot stockpile because it is a matter of not being able to carry many packages home. I’ve seen people of that demo actually being more kind than before. But, honestly, the racism, white supremacist behaviors and privileged ugliness I’ve experienced in Germany has been from the middle-aged to younger generation. Many of whom are convinced they have it harder or as hard as anyone else, including POC, and using the aforementioned mindsets to aggressively go about life offending, lacking empathy, and being self-centered to an absurd but allowed degree. Or conversely, blithely minimizing the very real and serious inequalities others are experiencing, while “improving” themselves using their resources of privilege.
In times of crisis like this, it seems some of the old people haven’t forgotten what it means to have nothing. To be without, and without any hope of relief. Community, commitment to each other, trust, respect, and fellow feeling. Not romanticizing anything, as 20th century German history is a brutal mess of death and trauma, but in my area at least, and thus far, I couldn’t imagine happening here what we see going on in the USA.
For us, because we’ve had such a financial hardship in the last three years when we had to end up producing and funding this film alone, living on the edge, always close to homeless and with little or no prospects? This pandemic is notable, but our daily lives and living hasn’t changed much. Indigenous peoples have already been living in a post-apocalypse for a long time because of European colonization. We keep going on as long as we can, and we know crying doom, saying things like “Life is meaningless” or “It’s just the flu!” nonsense is also privileged behavior.
We are not immune to stress, anxiety, hopelessness and depression, but our values help keep us from giving up and/or harming others. We will still help each other, and others as we can, even when we have little or nothing because we believe that is the right and moral thing to do. To do otherwise, I believe is to surrender your heart, your spirit, and ultimately your life. It is great to know there are people from other cultures and groups, who remember their own collective-focused roots, and reject the self-centered rationalizations of western society as a whole, and which the virus pandemic has clearly revealed.