The other day on my solitary run in the park I saw people holding hands, people sharing a spliff, some young guys sitting in a car (with the engine running) while drinking from a bottle. On my way to a lesson recently I had to get on a busy bus and there was a lady eating her supper. Snowdonia national park recently recorded its busiest day on record as people flocked there in their cars. And all of this as the UK started going into lockdown against a threat the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
We know the main solution – minimise contact with others as much as possible and stay home. But what has not come through clearly enough is that if possible you should still stay two metres apart from those in your home where possible – especially in the first weeks of the family isolation and especially if they have not been abiding by the guidelines themselves. There is a dangerous myth that if you’re all in a house together then you either all have it or not. This is wrong, it’s perfectly possible to share a house with someone who has the virus and not get it if you take the right steps (normally away from other people) and maintain your immune system. Your immune system can often deal with one-off attacks but do not overload it. This means avoid enclosed spaces with others – even family for now. Sorry, as of 30 March, unnecessary car journeys with others are really NOT a good idea. Wait a while. If it’s unavoidable then take the sensible cleaning precautions, wear a mask, and open a window (see HERE for more info). This is now a great time to walk or ride a bike to get to the park – we have cleaner air and less traffic than we’ve had in years.
Please, if enough of us do take these steps then we’ll get through this much more quickly and be stronger, wiser and more grateful for it.
So obviously the problem and the solution is our behaviour – this is what we can control in the present moment. So I believe that for any outsiders to blame the Chinese government for what it did or didn’t do in the past is deeply unhelpful – there are plenty of people in China doing that already (see HERE). China’s response, although perhaps initially flawed, has effectively mitigated the spread of the virus. The lockdown strategy was initially questioned – but thanks to China we can see that is the gold standard approach we need. In terms of searching for a cure or vaccine Chinese researchers have helped hugely. To start with Chinese researchers constructed the whole genomic sequence of the new virus and promptly shared it (See HERE). Also some of the most promising ongoing research into treatments is coming from China – such as using convalescent plasma of recovered patients for example. China also sent the first aid to Italy with a plane packed full of medical equipment along with nine experienced doctors to help (See HERE)
It seems clear that this virus was just a quirk of nature, a new virus that arose randomly, probably in bats or snakes, as part of life’s great quest to exist by replicating and changing. But it would currently be hard to disprove anyone if they said an alien species shot a beam from outer space onto that Wuhan market and created the virus, or who said that it was the work of some mad scientist. Or maybe it’s Mother Nature’s grand call for us all to reconnect with the World, be wiser, more compassionate and perhaps more respectful. This may be a form of philosophical Darwinist evolution whereby compassionate and less selfish societies are less affected. In Japan and Taiwan the response has been relatively successful and in both places mask wearing is common practice. The reason is often not to protect the wearer but those around them. So maybe the real virus is selfishness and ignorance and it’s that which we need to overcome now.
Luckily most people are behaving admirably and there all sorts of true heroes around us – well over half a million people in the UK signed up to volunteer to help the national Health service. And luckily the vast majority of people out here in the West, or in the UK at least, do not openly condemn the Chinese government, far less the Chinese people. In such a situation it’s also often the case that members of an ethnic group (in this case Chinese) become hyper-conscious or hyper-sensitive which may lead to some false accusations of prejudice or stereotyping alongside the legitimate claims. But the golden rule is that we are all valuable. Any mindless stereotyping or disparaging and unfair behaviour towards an ethnic group is deeply wrong. All is one is all – in essence we are the same. And everyone is many (we each have various aspects to our character). So if you know any one trying to point the finger, tell them to point it at those not following the guidelines – not at China.
We cannot change the past we can only work with the present. A good sailor is known in bad weather and this is a storm we need to ride out spiritually together while staying apart physically. Let’s do this now and start creating a world with more love, awareness, respect, compassion and wisdom. This may be what Mother Nature is asking us to do.