Dragonball Durag by Thundercat is playing on the radio, my head is gently throbbing, as I sit on my sofa in my front room in locked down suburbia. The sun shines in through the partially obscured window. Obscured with the curtain to stop the sun shining in my eyes. The occasional dog walker goes past the window, I imagine I will see a few joggers in a minute, they generally pass every 5 minutes between the hours of 8am and 7pm. Later there will be the family walking parties with children on scooters or bikes. They all still look lost and slightly confused and nervous. We are all still trying to practice these new rules not quite sure whether they will become the new normal or being a passing fade.
I have noticed on social media and the TV that the social distancing rule (which is not really a rule, but just a suggestion) is being followed less and less. A month in and we are beginning to drift from what was prescribed to old habits. People are starting to go out more, according to The Times yesterday traffic is increasing on the roads and some businesses are beginning to open up. This is what happens when leadership is unclear, when we are not reminded to continue to practice new habits, our old habits creep in. Some people will exercise personal leadership and notice that old habits are creeping back and remind themselves that they have a new habit now. The problem is that if the reason for the new habit is not clear then we are all less inclined to stick to the new habit. Well we all get told the reason for social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travel, and yet we still find it difficult to achieve, or some of us do. What we have a problem with is purpose. The purpose of the restrictions we all completely understand and accept, however for many of us it is at odds with our view of how the world works and ultimately our own purpose. Modern society values, wealth, social status, and social connection. We have been brought up exposed to these values, many of us accept these as our own, some of us don’t, but still accept that these values are important to all of us. The current situation in the short term is at odds with these values. This maybe an explanation for why there is this clamour to return to normal as soon as possible to return the status quo, to stabilise the economies of the world. We all need to earn money, to maintain our physiological and safety needs as Maslow put it, to provide shelter and sustenance. Also maintaining status and having a social network are vital to existence. This is in the short-term, the problem is however, that if we ignore the devastating impact this virus could have on our species, then we put the long term security of our species at risk, just to ensure that we can keep our status and wealth.
During the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic cities in the US that stayed locked down longer and protected their populations recovered economically much quicker than those that opened up earlier who suffered a far worse second wave of the virus.
I suppose we have a choice of having a short-term view and risk a devastating prolonged pandemic that kills many millions of people, and may well destroy our much loved modern society or keep disciplined take the substantial short term pain, to maintain as near as possible society to what we have now.