Treat others as you wish to be treated. Wash your hands.
Everyone privileged enough to attend kindergarten couldn’t have graduated to first grade without understanding of these two rules. If so, why are we struggling with a situation that could be mitigated by washing hands and wearing masks (me wearing a mask keeps you safe, so you in turn should wear a mask to keep me safe). Why are we witnessing an uptick in Covid-19 among folks with educational background in science? Scientific discoveries are made everyday. People don’t question them because most of these discoveries make our lives better.
When Apple first released the iPhone, I can assure you all those people waiting in line weren’t discussing the technology behind how the phone functioned. They accepted it because it’s something that they wanted. The world finds itself in quite a different place with Covid-19 in that the more you learn, the more terrifying it is. So human nature says to ignore and dispute the facts.
When one speaks, whether the audience lacks the intellectual or the emotional capacity to understand what is being said, the communicator has failed because his/her message is now floating in the ether, drifting further away with each passing moment. That is precisely what we as a global community are facing as everyone voices their opinion during Covid-19. Social media plays a large role in allowing everyone with a kindergarten level understanding of virology to infect the masses with this so-called “knowledge.” (Yes, pun intended)
But, this is no laughing matter, because future generations will look back at this chapter in history with a raised eyebrow in particular because factions of society are responding to the Covid-19 virus with the same scientific acumen as the bubonic plague, despite having detailed information at their fingertips, and despite the terrifying similarities to the Spanish Flu of 1918.
So here’s my question: Is it a lack of education, a deteriorating sense of civic duty, or just a plain lack of manners that allows this deadly virus to forge its way into homes all over the world? What I can say with certainty is, it’s not a lack of technology, it’s not a lack of access to information.
The United Nations put out a 90 page report that highlighted the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 globally. https://unstats.un.org/unsd/ccsa/documents/covid19-report-ccsa.pdf
Here’s some interesting stats that caught my attention.
212 countries around the globe have been shaken by this pandemic and while some might value their privacy, others argue the need for real-time data. But what good is data if we as a society refuse to act based upon conclusions drawn from said data?
Global trade is facing a decline, but did you know trade in medical goods used in the fight against Covid-19 attract an average tariff of 11.5% and go as high as 27% in some countries. I guess some political leaders don’t understand that as we suffer through a global pandemic we are only as strong as our weakest partner. Customs clearing times have increased by a factor of 32; translation: “It will take you longer to get packages from Amazon, which, let’s face it, are more than likely “made in China.”
There is already a 9% year-on-year fall in global production and manufacturing output, emerging markets will not see the investments they were previously anticipating as the risk factor has now skyrocketed. These two facts alone usher in an age of unparalleled economic slowdown, and yet there are lives being lost because people don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to wear a facial mask which would keep society safe.
$37 billion — that’s the amount that airlines, airports and air navigation provides lost in March of 2020. Even combining the downturn during SARS and 9/11 doesn’t come close to the dire straits the airline industry and thus its employees face — but you don’t want to wear a mask, cool.
Let’s talk about global unemployment shall we? 81% of the global workforce lived in countries with mandated or suggested workplace closure — the impact to hours worked has already surpassed levels seen in the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and is challenging numbers seen after World War II.
After all, is that exactly what this is? A world war? Economic productivity has decreased, global trade has decreased, companies are being told/asked to produce masks and hand sanitizers instead of what they normally would produce, and our medical professionals have become our soldiers. What about the rest of us? Are we being asked to plant victory gardens, are women being asked to leave their homes for the first time to become Rosie the Riveter.
Quite the opposite. Indeed, with many daycare providers unable to re-open, working mothers are forced to choose between their careers and providing proper care for their children. Yes, there are day care options but with adults throwing temper tantrums about social distancing, how realistic is it to expect toddlers to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart? Have you met a toddler? So what’s a working mother to do?
Essentially, this is chicken and egg paradox: do you bear the economic loss until a vaccine is created, thereby minimizing the loss of life but allowing economic harm – the magnitude of which will be felt for generations or, do you mitigate economic loss by allowing “collateral damage.” Ethics would dictate you do what’s best for the “greater good.”
But who gets to decide? As everyday citizens, we put our lives and livelihoods in the hands of politicians. But we cannot just throw up our hands and say that “it’s politics as usual.” After all we voted the politicians to represent us, to be our voices, help tell our American Kahani – our story – if we failed at our job to find a messenger that can communicate our opinions correctly, then we have failed as communicators — after all it’s the message received not the message delivered that makes a difference.
Kanika Chadha is naturally inquisitive, and fueled by her desire unveil mysteries. Kanika has worked as a Business Analytics professional for 8 years after 9 years on the Wall Street. She holds a dual M.S. in Financial Economics and Multinational Commerce from Boston University. In addition, Kanika has supported various South Asian focused 501(c)3 organizations including the Sankara Eye Foundation. She lives in NJ with her son and husband.