These past few weeks have seen an almost unprecedented outpouring of solidarity from the nation. It has been phenomenal, in terms of my social media interaction at least, to see the number of people showing support for a government that, not four weeks ago, was a four-letter-word on everyone’s lips.
We find ourselves in the midst of this unprecedented event, squirreled away in our comfy homes and ready for what will become the solstice for many of our lives. The long, dark winter of our souls will fall in South Africa during clement autumn weather.
But it has not become terrible yet has it?
Things are going to get worse.
No matter what the outcome of this lock-down will be, it will end. People are going to come out blinking into the light and start putting their lives back together; as close to a proxy of what they had before.
Even now the toll is slowly being paid. I witnessed my landlord having an altercation on the phone with a man who owes him money. He is no Scrooge, and I do not know many men who are as gentle as he, but in uncertain times, the pinch of the penny becomes a vice. Small things are metastasizing into bigger things. You can smell the bitter panic in everything that we are doing.
And to think that at the time of writing, only two people have died.
Whatever the cost of this period in History will be, people will not want to pay it. The pathway forked for our government between inaction and aggressiveness. They have chosen the latter, hoping decisive action will curb the rampant spread of a virus whose ranks have swollen from 540 infected to over a thousand in four days. That is not speaking for the toll our flooding the streets before quarantine will take.
Understand that we are yet to see the true cost of this thing.
But we will not want to pay it.
When it ends, which it will, the smoke will clear and we will want names. Someone, somewhere didn’t do their job or didn’t do it quick enough. Some company baulked and ran with someone’s money. The government was too rough or too indecisive. Countless subjective scenario’s will play out in our minds where all that stands between reality and the fantasy of a better outcome is someone else’s name. Surely, they are to be punished. Surely.
This can end as quickly as it began or with trenches full of bodies. Right now, it is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that the cost of it will be shouldered by every man, woman and child in this nation. There will be no one untouched when this is done. Accept that fact now. The severity or mildness of our experiences will fluctuate from person to person but I fear, sitting at this desk on a cool autumn day, that irrespective of what we are about to go through, we won’t see sense at the end.
True, governments fail their people. True, individuals fail communities. But letting our desire to throw hot-fire-blame at someone else will not change the cost of what you have already paid. Communities need justice to work, a never ending see-saw of action and punished consequence. But, and this is a very tumid but, we must know when to draw the line between punishing someone because they deserve it, or punishing someone because it makes us feel better about our own misery.
There is no denying the inevitability of the coming witch-hunt. But we are going to be as answerable for our actions then as we will now (funny thing is, we always are). However, we need to accept that history is littered with bad things happening due to no human fault. You are not so precious as to live your life in the shade. Terror stalks us all, and lets us know with a bite that it is close. Taking it out on your fellow man does not elevate you or act as compensation for your own pain. It will metastasize your sense of self-righteousness while, paradoxically, feeding on your self-worth.
Stay safe. Stay clean. Adversity does not care for your comfort and will demand its tithe. Spare others. Pay the cost and move on.