The year of the plague

By Jamie Etheridge

The end of the calendar year is often a time for reflection. People look back on the previous twelve months, reviewing the highlights, the accomplishments and achievements they’ve attained. This year, the year of the plague, has been a disruptor for many of us. Rather than traveling to explore new countries or setting up a new business, most of us have spent the past year simply trying to survive. Before the year of the plague fades to a bad memory, I want to consider what it has taught us. Or if it has taught us anything.

Is humankind any kinder? Are we more equitable and fair in our judgment, economies, social institutions? Are we more willing and able to help each other? Are we more connected to our families? Are we more determined to treat our planet better? To protect our environment? To build a sustainable future? It seems to me that the pandemic has brought out the best – and the worst in humanity. It has eroded trust in governments (the US political situation is the clearest example) and the ability/willingness of our societies to take care of those in need.

The pandemic showed in a million ways small and large how disparate and unequal our societies have become. Maybe our dream of a ‘middle class’ is really just an illusion, a figment of our imaginations fueled by marketing and TV commercials. And economic disparity is only one facet of the global disequilibrium. There’s political imbalance, especially between smaller nations and giants, wealthy nations and impoverished ones.

The plague has shown us that the 7.8 billion people on this planet are not evolved from the earliest forms of man. We are still divided and fractious, still grasping and greedy. We still fight in supermarkets over toilet paper and in queues for gasoline. We are not evolved enough to take care of each other, much less this dying planet that we treat so poorly.

I think of this year of the plague and how it has thrown up a mirror to reflect our actions or inactions back to us. Of how we still do not see. Now, with 2021 just around the corner, there’s hope, a light flickering in the distance. Most of us are looking forward to the new year with a mixture of hopefulness and trepidation. We are exhausted – mentally, physically and emotionally and ready for an uplift.

And there is reason to hope. The vaccine has come to Kuwait and distribution has begun. Once it has been distributed more widely, the next step will be a return to something like normal life. Similarly, once more of the world gets vaccinated, the chance for travel will return as well. So the light grows and we move toward it.

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