Original date of writing: April 22nd, 2020
I’m not exactly the one to talk about patience, judging by the fact that I rarely cook meals that take more than 15 minutes to make, but I still have a lot to say about it.
Currently, we are in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. I absolutely understand that people are scared, insecure, uncertain about their future, and that most of us are being put under an unprecedented amount of stress. Everyone I know personally has had the luck to have never lived through a war or any such thing, and I’m sure there are many more like us that have lived most of their lives in a sort of blissful ignorance of how tough life can be.
We should definitely count ourselves among the lucky ones, knowing how many people in this world know only violence and poverty, disease and suffering, but that is also precisely why I take issue with the amount of impatience our governments and leaders are met with.
I’m absolutely not the kind of person to say ‘stop whining, people elsewhere have it worse’. That’s just a shitty argument. Everything is relative, so what might be a walk in the park for one, might be the worst they’ve ever been through for the other. Instead, I just want to ask for patience, and maybe a bit of perspective.
I heard that yesterday, during a press conference, someone – a journalist, no less – asked our Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte a question that had me seething within seconds. “Mister Rutte,” he said, “for weeks now, you have been saying that The Netherlands’ behavior has been exemplary, but what do people get in return? Three more weeks of corona measures! How do you explain that?” I noticed that even Rutte himself had to reel himself in. “The virus!” he said, with a polite smile and his hands held up in the air, signifying that even he probably thought it was a baffling question.
I am mostly just confused that this question came from the NOS, our country’s leading media organization and our main source of information aside from the internet. I know the journalist probably didn’t come up with the question himself, but I don’t know who did, and I don’t know who authorized this question to be asked. Do they think that the corona restrictions are some form of punishment? That we’re just being noble by just behaving and now demand a reward? Do they want a sticker for their exemplary behavior?
I don’t even know where to begin. The idea that we’re ‘getting three more weeks of restrictions in return’ is just… plain wrong from the get-go. Our governments’ hands are tied in this situation. It’s not the government that decides that we as a people have been good and deserve a cookie now. It’s not the government that’s punishing us or rewarding us because that’s not even the issue.
We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, arguably the most widespread pandemic since the Spanish flu in 1918. Of course I don’t want to ignore the millions and millions of lives that have been and are still being claimed by the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic, but the reason I mention the Spanish flu instead is because HIV/AIDS hasn’t been perceived as a worldwide crisis by the Western world, and hasn’t had a comparable impact on the global (and let’s be honest, mostly the Western) economy.
We’re all fighting against a disease that doesn’t discriminate, that isn’t limited to certain countries or certain demographics. Our governments have no control over the measures they have to take to limit the spread of the virus in such a way that our healthcare systems won’t get overwhelmed, leading to many, many unnecessary deaths. The issue is doing what is necessary to ensure the health and safety of the people as a whole, not to annoy or punish or goad us.
I get that people need a villain they can see, someone to point fingers towards, and actual person of flesh and bone that they can call the enemy. We don’t know what to do, how to behave while fighting something invisible, we only know how to fight each other, so it’s understandable that people turn their attention on those in places of authority.
But the government isn’t doling out punishments or rewards. It’s just deciding what is necessary for our people to their best ability. How dare you even blame the government if it’s the virus that’s causing this shitshow? I wish people just had a little more patience. Instead of getting angry and upset that the lockdown has been prolonged, instead of being furious at the government for canceling all festivals and big events for the summer, try to realize why they’re taking these measures, try to put things in perspective.
I know, we’re all bummed that our festivals are canceled, especially since most of us already feel socially isolated and anxious lonely. We’re all yearning for our friends, for some closeness and intimacy to heal our bruised and beaten minds. I know we’re all aching to be able to hug each other again and cut loose at our favorite concerts. So am I.
But nobody is doing this out of spite, nobody is taking this lightly, nobody is doing this to punish us. They’re only doing it to save us. To save the lives of your grandparents, your parents, your brothers and sisters and children, your friends, your coworkers, and all their families. It’s not the government vs. us. It’s us and the government against the virus.
Show some patience, as this too shall eventually pass. Get some perspective, as our nation’s welfare is more important than one summer of festivals. We’re all in this together, and we just have to do our best to just wait and see how it all turns out. Whatever happens, happens. Maybe next month there’s a medical breakthrough and there’s an amazing vaccine that can be rolled out on short notice. Maybe the virus mutates and becomes deadlier, or it starts spreading more easily. We just don’t know, and all we can do, is to try and limit the spread as much as we can. There’s no reason to believe that these measures will be here forever, they’re just here for however long they’re necessary.
Nobody knows how long that will be, but try to find peace in not knowing. Try to find a sense of quietude in accepting that this is currently our reality, and that it might change in the future, but that we won’t know until we’re there. Try to replace your uncertainty with a sense of calm, knowing that we’ll just have to wait this out, and that we’re just taking it as it comes, and riding the waves (though I sincerely hope there won’t be anymore waves of the virus…).
Know that we’re all in this together. The world has come together in an unprecedented way, and for the first time in a long, long while, we’re all united against a common enemy that isn’t human, that isn’t one of us. It’s us versus the virus, and though these are horrific times to live in for so many of us, I can find beauty in the way we’re finding a new sense of connection. I can see how extraordinarily united we all are because of this global crisis.
None of us know what the next step will be, so just go with the flow, make some lemonade, and please, please stop harassing our leaders, who are doing everything they can to keep us safe.