‘Go placidly amid the noise and haste…’
If you will for a minute, try to give a listen to all the voices online speaking at the same time, during this year of COVID-19. Even as the urgency of the hour cannot be over-stressed, as sure as I am sure that there are those who really mean well with their updates and warnings, the signs are there. One cannot but notice that in a sense, a veil has been lifted somewhat to reveal that indeed, the world had become as noisy as a marketplace. A much-sicker analogy would be it resembling a chicken without its head and running all over the yard.
Dwelling further into this market comparison, consider some “aisles”of this world supermarket where panic scenes of had become quite common: Toilet paper sections in Australia, US and UK; flour and baking sections in Sweden, and last but least, the antiseptics/rubbing alcohol sections in the Philippines. Unverified rumors from some Aussie-friends even state that there was a panic buying incident in SG for condoms, which was weird but who cares? To top them all, the best aisle yet had been in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. When people heard that coffee shops might be closed, there was a rush and a long line of people to them, because that was were they could buy marijuana (which is legal there).
Each to their own priorities (or poison) I guess.
As in any busy market anywhere moreover, the counterpart of thugs abounds also. One needs to be wary about those among us who are into the hating, blaming and the malicious kind of business as their motives are to the detriment of others. Because of them, the proliferation of fake news about the outbreak has caused undue panic and misinformation among the people so much that, some believe that these are some of the causes of panic buying in places.
In the wake of it all, the rally to isolate one’s self through “social distancing”, with the most minimum physical contact with others to minimize contagion has shaken the human crib even further. In the city, where a “community quarantine” had been implemented, many had opted to stay indoors and worked at home. Truly, the market place noise may have risen to fever pitch with each passing day, yet the most unheard voices, drowned off in all the din might as well be mute.
I had a sad encounter the other day with our neighborhood garbage man and I had casually asked him what precautions he was doing in the midst of all these frightening circumstances. His reply had been that of flat surrender. What can the poor do he said, when they could not even afford masks, alcohol or other means to ward off exposure? So, in all the push-and-shove, yup we may have forgotten them. More fortunate for the hospital workers and front-liners in the corona virus outbreak who now have received better treatment, despite earlier being ostracized as “unclean” because of their possible exposure to patients with the COVID-19. While the mob mentality towards them may have changed (they are now hailed as heroes), our garbage man and the likes of him are still left to fend for themselves.
Looking at all that have unfolded so far, I had earlier planned to post about the Ides of march on the eleventh of this month, as a poke to some friends, but thought better of it. The world as it is is changed. It is basically in lockdown, confined to barracks, and celled in together with its fears as companions. Ironically, this year of 20-20 has indeed become a great reveal, exposing just how low we can go. The
days ahead may even bring a surprise of sorts when we prove to ourselves how fast we can organize ourselves to save our skin.
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