For all our efforts to deny its severity, COVID-19 is not a joke. It's a serious illness and the more we ignore it, the more serious it becomes.
If at first we thought that it affected only elderly and unwell people, we now know that it affects everyone, at all age groups and at all levels of health. But the most frightening aspect about the coronavirus is its impact on children. While most infected children remain asymptomatic, some develop a very severe condition known as Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS), which affects their brain, and can even lead to death.
Ignoring the risks from COVID-19 is in many ways like playing Russian Roulette. The odds of dying in this case are much slimmer, but the head at the gunpoint is that of our children. Are we willing to take the risk?
The more we stall with dealing with the virus, the more infectious and more violent it becomes. What will happen if we stall for another six months? How much worse will it impact us and our children? Do we want to wait for the mortality rate to rise? Do we want to sit by until hospitals are unable to treat people with any illness because their beds are taken by COVID patients? We really should know better.
The novel coronavirus isn't here on a brief visit. I said it when it first arrived, and now science is beginning to recognize it. A few days ago, John Edmunds, a member of the U.K. Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told lawmakers that "We are going to have to live with this virus for evermore. There is very little chance that it's going to become eradicated." In simpler words, the life we had until 2020 will never return; we have to build a new and better one.
The first place to start in reconstructing our lives is our society. If we examine each crisis that humanity is grappling with, we will find specific causes for each of them. But behind each crisis, whether it is climate change, forest fires, COVID-19, hunger, war, water pollution, air pollution, substance abuse, poverty, obesity, domestic violence, racism or any other crisis, they are all caused by our lack of consideration, by our alienation from each other.
We patronize some, demonize others, abuse, manipulate and cheat our way to wealth and power. Some are more aggressive, some are less so, but this is the dominant mindset around the world. This is also the mindset that has inflicted on us the countless crises plaguing our planet. We will never overcome them until we uproot our constant mistreatment of each other.
We know that mutual responsibility is great for all of us; we feel it instinctively. But whenever we want to implement it, the "voice of reason" awakens in our heads and says that it is pointless to attempt to implement it since too few people are willing to make the effort, that it's against human nature, that we're dreaming if we think that this can ever work, etc.
But is it against human nature to want to feel safe? Is it against human nature to want to be able to trust people? Is it against human nature to build networks of mutual responsibility in order to secure everyone's health and well-being? On the contrary, nothing is more natural than these behaviors. Every settlement provides its residents with exactly these benefits; it is why people live in settlements and communities, and when we choose our leaders, we look for the ones who can best provide us with these necessities.
But while we are living in systems that secure our lives, we mistreat each other — the building blocks of the systems that sustain us. It does not make sense. It's as if cells attacked an antigen that came to help them fight a virus, and then complained that they were sick.
We must stop yielding to our egos. They are warping our perception and make us think all the wrong things about each other. They make us hate each other when in fact we're all dependent on each other and wouldn't be able to live if it weren't for all of us.
And if we're not strong enough to fight our egos for our own sake, let's at least do it for our children. It is not their fault that we are letting our egos run amok; it is not their fault that we are heartless, gutless and cannot look beyond our noses. Let's at least give up on our egos for their sake, so they, too, will have a future, and let's not play Russian roulette with our kids' heads at gunpoint.