This post was published in The India Currents magazine: Unity in the face of the Virus-that-must-not-be-named
“This is the Ministry of Magic all over again!” I said.
The Ministry of Magic, as Harry Potter fans know completely botched up the rise of Voldemort – they were in denial, then went on a campaign of outright lying with false facts, bravado, and then a rude reckoning of the truth. The Order of the Phoenix, is one of those books that really opens our eyes to incompetent leaders.
We were discussing the United States’ handling of the Corona virus, COVID-19 health threat.
Everywhere on social media there was information – some true, some untrue, some alarmist, some pacifist, many telling us not to worry, but worrisome all the same. Our President, it seems, has not yet arrived at the true reckoning of the situation, and continued his bravado. The President blundered on about his building walls to stop the spread, his biggest problem seemed to be the Stock market index.
Meanwhile, the CDC did not have enough testing kits ready, so we do not know how pervasive the situation really is.
Vox article: here
We all pass through these phases of denial, a state of holy-moly, and a surreal settling in to things. (I had been vacillating between astonished denial & mild panic, up until the 1st week of March in California). We do the best we can. We see the terms quarantine & social distancing, and try to come to terms with this new mode of functioning. We are social animals now united by the need for social distancing.
Our company announced an ‘Encouraged to WFH policy’ like many other tech companies. That has now been upped to a ‘Mandatory work from home’. I know many of us used the public transit systems to get to the office, so we were obviously grateful to be told thus, and to have the kind of jobs that can be done remotely for a short period of time. It was not lost on me that a great many people did not have the same luxury.
Covid-19 is unprecedented for many of us. People who had lived through the SARS outbreak 18 years earlier are probably the ones who have seen something similar in their lifetimes. For the vast majority of us though, this is new territory. How do we determine the best sources of information?
Humanity always comes together in the best & worst of times. When our leaders do not provide timely guidance, our collective reasoning can, and much like the Wizarding World united in the face of Voldemort, I am sure we shall do the same this time around: by collectively, voluntarily, distancing ourselves socially, being responsible, and putting the greater good ahead of us.
The tiniest virus it seems brings us closer to the human condition than any other thing can. We are human and are therefore at risk.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J K Rowling
- We Contain Multitudes – Ed Yong