The year that was, 2020, is finally about to fade into the history books, and will retain a black spot in the memories of most people in the years to come.
In considering lessons learned as we seek to enter a new year with some hope, we must consider questions like, “have we handled the COVID-19 pandemic correctly?”, and “how could things have been better?”
In part, it will be difficult to render a judgment on these questions just yet, because unfortunately the pandemic isn’t over, as we still endure restrictions heading into the new year.
The way restrictions were handled in the latter part of the year were slightly better than in the first lockdowns imposed in March through to May. The second wave seems to be somewhat stronger than the first one was, but the measures against it are not quite as restrictive as in the spring, in some ways.
In his book, “The Ambler Warning”, author Robert Ludlum quoted a sage, Mancius, in saying, “what good is self-defence if it comes at the expense of the self?”
In relation to the pandemic, the restrictions are pronounced without question, and lockdowns and cancellations are imposed, in the name of containing the COVID-19 virus. The question must be asked, however, what of the human cost of these measures?
Are the measures worth the cost of people’s mental health? Humans are social beings and need interaction, and yet this is not a consideration by public health officials as they severely restrict how humans can interact, including once-in-a-lifetime events like weddings and funerals.
Are they justified in economic terms? In one newscast, they will spell out what restrictions are ongoing, and in the very next item, will talk about how small businesses are being hurt at a time when they need revenues, and some are closing for good, causing devastation in jobs and in the economy.
When will the price be too steep to pay any more?
We are told these measures are necessary to keep people safe, to stop the spread of the virus, and yet large retailers are allowed to stay open while smaller businesses close their doors. This is a very costly inequity that doesn’t have a lot to do with public health.
Perhaps as vaccines become more widely available to the general population, this will help mitigate the harshness of COVID restrictions, and people will be able to have a more “normal” life again.
We’ve never seen a worldwide health crisis like this in the modern era, not since the Spanish Flu of a century ago. We enter 2021 with the pandemic still impacting everything, but with the vaccines, we can hope there is a glimmer of light that things can start to get better again.