As the COVID-19 pandemic continues it’s difficult to see where this is all heading. I’m in China right now and went for a compulsory nucleic acid test last week and relieved to be given the all clear. However China has the apparatus to move quickly while the West operates in a different way.
It's been depressing reading the Western media channels and it sounds like a real mess out there and hard to discern what's a real threat and what's just panic and hysteria.
Lord Sugar, British business magnate, media personality, politician, and political adviser, made a statement on Twitter regarding the state of the press recently;
“Journalism is missing the “mood”. We do not want or need blame. We do not want constant criticism or our Government who are doing their very best on a very difficult and unprecedented global emergency. This crisis is not of their making and there is no precedent of how to best handle it and I’m sure everyone is doing their best to get it right. But time and again we see our negative press trying to trip up our politicians instead of asking questions that will provide positive and reassuring answers for all of us. We want and need a constructive contribution to the national effort to help us out of this crisis. We need hope, optimism and faith, with less negativity and more positive support from these journalists”.
Viewed from afar it seems to me that the UK press has a bad case of bipolar. The headlines swing from left to right and not in a Political sense. So the challenge is to try and find a balanced perspective.
My father is 88 now and recently moved with my mother into assisted care just before the lockdown hit. Being almost blind and in his attempt to give his life structure he's insisted on going out everyday much to the distress of the carers. It just seemed beyond belief why someone would do this considering the serious nature of this virus.
There's a meme doing the rounds currently, so I thought I'd adapt it to the generation born in the 1930's to understand their; my father's perspective.
Imagine you were born in 1932. Three years before you came into the world, the Great Depression had begun. Unemployment hit 25% and world GDP dropped 27%. This runs while you are still a child, during which time the country and the Western world has basically almost collapsed. Your father has told you about the horrors of World War I and is probably still traumatised by it, which had only ended thirteen years before you were born, twenty two million people or so had died. At school you have also learnt that a Spanish flu epidemic had hit the planet thirteen years before you were born, where fifty million people (out of a world population of 1.5 billion) had died from the virus over a two year period.
Then when you are seven years old, World War II breaks out. Between your seventh and thirteenth birthday, at least seventy five million people perish out of a world population of 2.5 billion. You experience bombs being dropped in the distance and what it means having to hide in a bomb shelter, as my father did. He once recounted the story of sleeping in the shelter one night and the following day finding his neigbours house gone. Your teacher returns from the war and you learn he is so tramatised, he commits suicide. Smallpox is still epidemic at your young age, and an additional thirty million have already died from this disease. Until you are in your mid 20's, you know about friends and acquaintances being maimed or dying from polio. After World War II, around your eighteenth birthday, the Korean War starts and five million perish on that smallish peninsula far away from home. You are just finishing school around that age. Somewhere around your twentieth birthday you do your National Service, and after completing basic training you find yourself for the first time with all sorts of people like someone wearing newspaper under his clothes to keep warm. You are then shipped through Aden to the Far East where you have never before seen sea so blue. You are stationed near the Chinese border in Hong Kong, where you are looking across to the Mainland in anticipation of a potential invasion by communist forces. After your return back home, at the age of twenty three, the Vietnam War starts, and another four million perish, in another small corner of Asia. There are plenty of other self inflicted in-country horrifics to read about in the news or see on newsreel, Stalin (10 million deaths), Mao's Great Leap Forward (20 million deaths), Pol Pot (1.5 million deaths) and other wars and medical horrors not even mentioned above. Then during your adulthood living through the Cold War, you live with the fear of potential nuclear annihilation. And now at the age of 88 in 2020 where Covid-19 has so far taken 300,000 out of a world's population of 7 billion (we hope that the total deaths don't end up going to one to two million). For this, the world's GDP may collapse between 15 and 20%, and many of the world's governments', companies' and individuals' finances will, in all likelihood, be in dire straits for a few years to come. So things might be getting a bit messy, but I suppose, from my parents generational perspective, this whole Covid-19 crisis is just a breezy walk down to the store!