It’s March 16th, 2020. I am at a friend’s house who left for the province, in self quarantine with two friends. I’ve gotten used to my usual birthday shenanigans: out in the pub or at home with friends, but most definitely drinking when the clock strikes twelve. In the morning I’m at work, being treated almost the same way as during Teacher’s Day but the same stress as any other school day. Going home and having dinner with my family. And then it’s over. But for my twenty seventh, everything was turned around. I was inside, spending time (but still drinking) with friends through video chat. No dinner with my family as I don’t want to risk exposure to them if I went home.
They say that at times like this, in the middle of a pandemic, the only way to stay sane is to function as normal as possible.
I wouldn’t know about normal.
I’ve never experienced real, genuine fear before except for the thought of death. Although I often explicitly state that I am tired of living, I am afraid of how this vessel of a mind and body will exist once it comes to me. The comfort of religion would save me for a moment, to a point where I can sleep at night. And then I wake, and I live. Day by day.
Much has happened in my year that led me to this age. Little victories and little setbacks, gained experiences and friends. Stepping out bravely, one shaking foot after the other, into adulthood. And living in defiance to the standards that is set out for my age, gender, and identity. Act more and do better for the next year to come.
And as I contemplate at my circumstance in hard times like these (because there’s not much left to do), these thoughts and principles matter, now more than ever.
I live in a country that is in the middle of a crisis, where more than the coronavirus will be the possible cause of our demise: Fear. Misinformation. Poverty. Greed. Privilege. And most importantly, lack of empathy.
In the rise of free media, it’s so easy to gather information in which some are untrue. It’s so easy to choose a side based on what side of the tracks you are and where you will benefit from. It’s so easy to give solutions when you don’t see the bigger picture. But it is so hard to simply care to the point where you do something without expecting anything in return.
In was in my birth day that I realized that the time to change these kinds of perspectives is now.
We have to find the truth and give it to the people because that is what they deserve. Be it a nasty reality or a devastating truth, it is far more better to see than be blinded by it. We have, as intellectual beings, the capacity to differentiate the truth from the lies. It doesn’t matter what degree you finish or what school you come from. We all have a social responsibility. And to stand idly in the sides is far more worse than the liars who take their money’s worth to spread falsehoods. We can’t simply let these things come to pass when we can act upon it.
With the right information, we have to search for solutions that will affect the greater and common good. Each choice we make trickles down to many possible consequences, with many people affected by it. It’s not easy to think about it, you could need the nation’s greatest minds gathered but it still won’t be enough. They probably won’t even come to a unanimous decision. But it is far better to make those small but certain steps than to make large, impulsive ones that end up to be impractical and anti-poor.
Finally, with the information and solutions we have gathered, we have to do some actions. When you’re privileged, your blindness is a choice. Your adherence to injustice is a choice. Your failure to act is a choice. The reality for the poor is far worse than we can possibly imagine. With lack of medical insurance, safety measures, and the means to live day to day, a pandemic will cause them to either die from sickness or starvation. Both ways to go could well be prevented. Set societal differences and prejudice aside. Think of us as a nation, not as a citizen.
All these things seem too intense to think about in your birthday, but there is no other time than the present, be it your name day or not, to think about these pressing matters. We need now, more than ever, to become selfless. We need now, more than ever, to act. Pandemic or not.