COVID-19 — Democracy, Classism and How To Survive as an Overinformed Pessimist
Authored by Panos Vasilopoulos, 20 Jan 2021
Is it just me, or did a highly contagious virus also worsen the status quo? Is that besides the point?
It's amazingly horrible how easy a pandemic can turn into an issue about socioeconomic class in so many different variations across every country.
And, obviously, that's not something that hasn't happened before. According to a Reuters article from 2008, the amount of poor people who died from the Black Death was disproportional among poor people, rather than rich people. Of course, that makes total sense. Their health was bad, their coverage was bad, and, if you were rich, you may as well have had the ability to sit in your ivory tower. Or, maybe, the things I'm saying ar a bit anachronistic, so I might as well delve into what's going on today.
Onto the wonders of the 21st century... #
You may not be familiar with what's happening around the globe, but if you keep up with world affairs to the point where you have to force yourself to stop in order to retain your ability to get out of bed in the morning, you may be familiar with some of these heartbreaking news pieces:
- People in Japan are committing suicide on a higher rate, especially women.
- People in Bavaria are obligated to wear non-state sponsored masks without being necessarily able to afford it.
- As of the time of this writing, the death toll of COVID-19-related deaths in the United States amounts for 136 9/11's.
- The United Kingdom? Check.
- I've even heard of schoolchildren and young people in Greece that cannot afford to attend public school during a pandemic. Only one in four people manage to attend online classes without any trouble whatsoever. An open-source software advocacy organization had to put out a call for private citizens to donate their old electronic devices to schools, which would in turn provide their students with the donated equipment.
- What, what about South Africa? Also check.
- What about literally Africa as a whole? Wait, they hope to start vaccinating people 6-7 months after everyone else?!
- Human rights and the freedom of the press too? Really?!
Obviously, I'm not an expert, but all of these examples definitely weren't in the list of symptoms last time I checked. I think that I can still say with utmost confidence that Democracy has been infected.
Classy response. #
In a nutshell, if your health is already bad, if your health coverage is horrible, and you can't work from home, you're probably also more likely to die.
I definitely feel very lucky for enjoying certain privileges, such as having a reliable printer at home or the fact that my internet connection only gets cut off once every three quarters of a minute for 3 seconds as a result of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) amputating the speeds of our good internet connections in order to "accommodate everyone", rather than not even providing acceptable service in the first place. Imagine how bad my situation would have been not only if I lived in more remote areas of Greece (many of which still don't have internet coverage) or in completely different regions such as rural America.
It feels weird to be talking about things like that, but those commodities are nowadays fundamental for one's ability to function either as a high schooler, a student, an office worker and more.
If I were to get into the case of the even more convoluted case of essential workers (The same ones that suddenly turn into "unskilled workers", once they ask for help in any other regard other than clapping hands, mind you.), the point that I'm trying to convey to you, the reader, would get even more convoluted than it already is right now.
So, please, allow me to just get it off my chest in one sentence already: The response to the pandemic is unambiguously classist.
So, uh... what now? #
Obviously, it's not like some random, rambling teenager on the internet is just going to singlehandely carry the entire world's weight on their shoulders and unilaterally solve world hunger or poverty. Or, basically anyone, for that matter.
All I did just state something obvious: If we were actually prepared correctly, inequality shouldn't have been exarcebated. I think it's safe to say parties took advantage of (or even contributed) to this sort of lack of preparedness to their own advantage, at the expense of everyone else.
Ultimately, we've been collectively failed. Our plans are destroyed, some of our dreams have been torn apart, and an unfathomable amount of people died. Of course, a pandemic cannot singlehandely cause a failure of that magnitude. Those failures already existed.
Yeah, it's true that your reality may sometimes turn out to be indistinguishable from the stories they kept telling you about hell.
It's just that the world sucks, and it's good to recognize where we are instead of waiting for our houses to burn down, since seeing and hearing about death apparently wasn't enough.
It's true that when the only thing that concerns a human being is what is happening in the environment that they find themselves in and only, they will eventually turn into egocentrists. I'm not talking about being self-absorbed, but I'm talking about the lack of awareness as far as the position of a human being in the universe is concerned. It can make you feel trapped.
Knowing what's happening in the world is good, because it helps align your moral, political orientation and provides you with the virtues of empathy, understanding and unity. That doesn't mean that you have to suffer.
If you keep looking down, as you're waiting for your self-fulfilling, impending downfall, you're going to make it easier for the world to push you down and crush you and the people that hold you dear.
I'm not an epidimiologist, a political analyst, or even infallible, as far as my opinions and my worldviews are concerned. Therefore, apart from regurgitating the thoughts that many people can probably relate to, you need to remind to yourself that you're not completely powerless.
You can't run, but that doesn't mean that you have to be your own hell.
You're still a person and you're still functioning.
Your choices still matter.
Keep that head up.