Us First... or Us All?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Prior to 2020, China was that exotic oriental place, where anything and everything could be manufactured. New Zealand was the land of Hobbits, and Italy was the home of the Pope.


Africa was that cute ‘country’ with starving children - who just LOVED to take selfies with tourist benefactors - with lions and zebras as the popular mode of transportation.


The United States of America was the loud uncle whom everyone secretly despised, yet everyone wanted to be with. And Canada, his pleasant little brother.


Prior to 2020, we all lived in la-la-land, and rarely identified with the realities of our brothers and sisters around the world.


Happenings in other countries sounded really far-away; something to lift our eyes from our phones briefly, look at the television for a second, shake our heads in distracted sympathy, mutter a silent prayer, and quickly go back to scrolling through Instagram for the latest deals on shoes.


In recent times, this dissonance has been heightened by growing far-right (who made them ‘right’ anyway?) calls for a return to nationalistic policies, as against globalization. What with movements such as BREXIT and chants of “build the wall!”


2020 and COVID-19 was the game changer.


All of a sudden, China became known as the place where COVID-19 was said to have originated from. New Zealand became known for instituting one of the toughest lockdowns, and keeping the virus at bay for the longest time, at the (possible) cost of its economy.


Italy became associated with heartbreaking, tear-jerking news of thousands of daily deaths, with healthcare systems overwhelmed and doctors having to make the difficult decision of who to keep alive.


Africa emerged as the continent, whom against the odds of poverty, coupled with corruption and aggressively mediocre leadership, still managed to record the lowest number of deaths and cases, peaking at a surprisingly low rate.


The United States has become known for … phew! (Honestly, I cannot even get into that right now. I’ll just pass)


And Canada has shown strong national and provincial leadership in the face of the pandemic, with its leaders putting aside party allegiances to come together in fighting the common adversary, all the while appropriately giving the true steering wheels to the scientists and healthcare personnel.


If there is one thing that 2020 (and COVID-19) has taught us, it is that we are all connected to each other. What affects one affects us all.


No country, no community, no person is an island. This is evident in even rich countries, recognizing the need to reopen their borders, so as to reboost their economies.


No amount of chanting “go back to your country” or millions of dollars pumped into building walls can remove from the fact that we are all one human race, simultaneously occupying the earth.


What affects one, irrespective of the geographical distance, ultimately affect us all.


It is very important to remember this, even as the race to find a viable vaccine seems to be making progress. At this time when everything is still uncertain, and everyone is affected, information sharing and cooperation seems to be a no-brainer.


But a time will come when the dust has settled, and COVID-19 has begun to seem like a receding horrible nightmare, just hanging within the recesses of our minds as an unhappy blur.


At that time, it is important to remember how we were all in this together; how we were all affected all over the world.


At that time, we should not see vaccines being hoarded in only certain countries or continents, leaving the rest of the world vulnerable. We should not see countries that have bounced back suddenly climb on their high-horse in putting other countries through unnecessarily and undignified hoops, in admitting their nationals, under the guise of protecting residents from the virus.


We should remember that there was a time when we all held our breath and our hands all over the world, while praying for the pandemic to come to an end.


Which is why I am penning this, for posterity sake. Our perpetual reminder.


After all is said and done, and ‘normalcy’ has returned fully, let us remember that Us First is not sustainable in keeping our world safe from other future challenges. For if one is compromised, we all are compromised


It should always be Us All; leaving no one behind.





Photo-credits: By Morning Brew on Unsplash

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