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By GHK Lall
We have a problem situation on our hands with these COVID-19 surges. Relative to our prior circumstances I would have to say we are in some part of local super surge equivalents. I regret to share that it could be early days yet, given our traditional behaviours, because I sense the reports are still coming in, and that the willful ignorance displayed at many levels will cost us severely. Just like it did in other places.
Because of what is involved, and despite the utter unwisdom of our collective reactions, I must still refrain from calling it a crisis, because I don’t think that the alarming helps in times like these. It is enough to state that what we have is nothing less than troubling. That is bad enough, perhaps still beyond our control. But given our responses, it is completely mystifying that we are still playing games, that these mixed signals are still around, and totally objectionable that we find it necessary to be bickering and wrangling. In a time demanding real men, the best that we can come up with are the madmen with which this society is more than abundantly gifted. How could we be carrying on like this at a time like this is baffling to me.
We either have a concerning problem or we don’t; either way, let’s get on with it. If the former is on the money, then let it be said, so that the sane could take proper precautions. For too long the powers have gone it alone and got by. For too long nobody-not a single soul from any one side-has had the courage, the integrity, the national pride and national spirit-to take the first step and make that first call and initiate that first offer with arm extended. We need it as a nation, and not the bluster and buffoonery that have characterized the past few days. What happened with our sense of decency, some regard for honesty?
We don’t have any situation under control. I say to hell with that, and be done with that nonsense. Nothing is further from the truth, and with that comes the wisdom to appreciate the power of our present danger. Let better sense prevail, and I think we may have some of it still left. It must be none other than this: Heads put together, arms linked, shoulders at the wheel. Yes, I admit readily that the territory underfoot is slippery and largely unknown; but it must not remain untouched and untested for one second longer. The moment has come for us to cease adding to our stock of foolishness. To all I say, get off the election horse, even as it continues to trample us, even when we delight in reassuring ourselves that we have beaten it to death. We have not succeeded at anything of the sort. And unless, this is our present resolve, what is in front of us would leave us none the wiser; except that we are dead, and with our boots on. And that we could have done better, but didn’t.
I emphasize that we must have the common sense to recognize that what is in the midst of us could be the death of us, should there be insistence of walking as we have done the last two years. We will fall like flies with our mouths open to argue, but our minds closed to anything resembling some needed good sense, some care for the greater good, some understanding of our terrible vulnerabilities.
I go somewhere else to remind us all of something else from a matter of mere months ago. We had what was then declared to be our worst natural disaster. Whether I agree or not is irrelevant. But I stand here with this: what we have right now before us is worst; it is not by inches since there is no comparison. This is clear and present danger; and anybody who cannot discern that is beyond remedy.
For that reason alone, I take this position: what we have in the works is outrageous. What we have done and not done is mind bending. Why is our curfew still at the comical level that it is, given what rages with increasing intensity? This should not be, not when I heard a man of relevant learning appealing to citizens in the midst of Thursday spike to stay indoors. We had better get this thing right, and I caution that the window of opportunity is narrow to the point of being tight.
On another note, with early reports of 65 teachers and 44 students stricken, our schools should not remain open. Anybody who thinks otherwise leaves me no option but to think the absolute worst of him or her. I would make an allowance for Forms 5 and 6 students only due to the proximity of examinations. Besides those children, the others should be in the protection of their homes; if only to afford us time and space to collect our senses, gather the facts, and weigh our options.
As I consider all this, I have to ask myself who is protecting whom and why? I go further, in the middle of a national priority, why is there still present, still these precedents of other priorities. The bottom line is this: in the center of what amounts to a national hour of challenge, there must be a national response. Any other way would be representative of the worst failure, the most denounceable dereliction of responsibility, of abandonment of duty. I close: we have a problem, failure is not an option.