All Considered, Our COVID Sacrifice Is Trivial

I’ve written here before about how I’m on a mission to avoid as much news about COVID as possible.

In a nutshell, I’ve been trying to avoid everything that doesn’t constitute essential news. I define that pretty narrowly as need-to-know updates such as: “the government is restricting you to within 1 KM of your house” and “the pandemic has been declared over in your area; masks are no longer required outside.”

Using this rubric, I find that 99% of coronavirus-related information is background noise that I could live without and which I thus filter out of my consciousness.

I don’t need to know what case numbers are in my country. That information is essential for public health professionals managing the response. Not for me.

Etc, etc.

K95 masks. Arguably the symbol of “comfortable” pandemic sacrificing

Why Aren’t Malls Opened!?

The main problem with this strategy is that it’s almost impossible to avoid COVID speculation and commentary.

Today, while looking for something else entirely, one popped onto my Facebook feed.

The poster was complaining about the fact that shops, in Israel, remain closed due to the ongoing lockdown.

The post quickly drew a flurry of likeminded complaints — this, I’m told is an almost hourly spectacle — with many berating the “idiots” in government and others alleging that some grand conspiracy was at work whereby the government was deliberately limiting us to select merchants and keeping us at home.

Yes, dear friends: Jews go in for conspiracy theories too.

In response to it, I’d like to get one — just one — opinion about the pandemic off my chest.

(Preface: the government are not idiots. There is no ulterior motive for keeping people at home; in fact, that argument can be quickly destroyed when one considers that the government is losing money every day they are not collecting VAT from closed businesses….)

And that’s this:

I content that what your average person has had to sacrifice for the pandemic response thus has, in the grand scheme of things, not been all that great.

Lest that be misconstrued as callous, I should clarify that I’m not talking about:

  • Front line medical personnel who have had to risk their lives to protect public health
  • Those out of work due to the virus
  • Those who have contracted, and been sickened by, the virus

My comments are directed, rather, at those like me.

Those who main inconvenience has been things like:

  • Having to spend far more time at home than we are accustomed to
  • Having to buy, and wear, somewhat uncomfortable respiratory masks when not at home
  • Having to abide by government-enforced restrictions. (In my case, due to my government’s restrictions, I spent a good chunk of this year legally confined to a 1 kilometer radius of my home.)

In the grand scheme of things, I contend that staying at home is a rather trivial form of collective sacrifice in the face of a major public health menace.

And that, therefore, the burden of proof lies squarely on those claiming restrictions are not necessary for them to be lifted. Because, proportionally speaking, I feel that what we’re being asked to do is more than justified.

Indeed, social isolation increases the incidence of mental illness.

But — at least where I live, in the West — none of us have been forced to rely upon the army for the delivery of food rations.

Or confined to our homes at night with policemen standing by the door preventing us from leaving. Or welding us into our homes.

Checkpoints do not arbitrarily control our movements. Yes, they exist. But they are selective, well-publicized, and do not impede the day to day lives of most citizens.

Those of us who work from home do so with modern conveniences that those who survived the last major pandemic, in 1918, could only have dreamed of.

We have the internet and social networks to instantaneously exchange information and keep up to date with every major and minor pandemic-related development.

We can check in with loved ones across continents and waters simply by initiating a (free) VoIP call.

None of this was commonplace when humanity last faced a major vital pandemic.

Just as importantly, anybody working in the knowledge industry can do their job remotely.

We have, at our fingertips, video conferencing, remote work and collaboration tools. And more information than we could ever find time to consume and parse.

We also have online shopping that allows us to buy ourselves clothes, and other essentials, even when bricks and mortar stores are closed by government order. In fact, many of us can buy luxury items like alcohol and takeaway delivery over the internet too (and yet that doesn’t stop people complaining that restaurants are closed as if they were some form of societal necessity).

So in response to the dismayed and angry posters I assiduously try to avoid on Facebook (but sometimes end up reading), I say only this:

Things could be an awful lot worse than they are.

Instead of berating the “idiots” in government, realize that they’re probably doing their best to protect you. Also: they probably know a thing or two more about risk management and epidemiology than you do.

There’s no grand conspiracy at play. The government isn’t deriving pleasure from keeping you cooped up at home if that’s what they’ve deemed necessary.

This is what humanity coming together to defeat a common enemy looks and feels like.

The good news is that, assuming you live in a free society, you’re at liberty to do more to protect your health if you feel like your government isn’t doing enough.

Realize that, statistically speaking, all of us face the chance of being caught up in a viral pandemic during our lifetime. So although this period shocks us all — equally it was more predictable than the vast majority of us realized.

Be thankful that you’re facing one in a time when the internet has been invented and medicine is relatively well established.

And imagine what this period could be like if those things hadn’t been invented.

Your new wardrobe purchase can wait. Or you can buy from friends. You have options. Options that many before you didn’t.

Be grateful for what you can. We’re in this together.

And, all things considered, things could be a lot worse.



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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things.