The Jewish Report Editorial

Living in the time of COVID

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As the days get longer, and we move slowly towards summer, are we sensing a glimmer of hope or is it still bad, bad, and more bad?
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jul 23, 2020

Living in the time of COVID-19, I have a sense of us initially being quite nervous about being stuck in our homes. We were worried about what would be available to us, and concerned that everything would come to a standstill. I recall people going out and buying loads of toilet paper, while others stocked up on long life milk and eggs.

Fear for our livelihood set in as industries were shut down, and so many began being unable to earn a living.

But then, for some, there seemed to be an almost euphoric period where they got used to being at home with their families, working from home, with their children involved in online learning in the room next door. There were all types of different permutations of this period, but people almost relaxed into it, and saw the benefit of it all.

But as time went on, and the coronavirus escalated, lockdown became increasingly difficult, and so many began questioning their lives and the paths they had chosen. They contemplated their career paths, marriages, where they lived, and how they ran their lives. These were deep, difficult questions for the most part, causing distress and requiring the making of big decisions.

Now, we find ourselves at a time where we are living with those decisions, and needing to go forward into a new world with different insights.

Just how will we look back on this time of COVID-19? What will stand out for us?

For me, this has been a time where politicians and business leaders have lost their lustre, while doctors and scientists have become heroes. They are at the forefront of this fight, and we listen to what they are saying, hanging onto every word.

I guess we know that, right now, our lives and those of our loved ones are in their hands like never before. We also know that they are working around the clock to keep people alive, which is undoubtedly the most honourable thing a human being can do.

There are names that you will recognise forever associated with our community and its leadership at the time of COVID-19 and, for the most part, they have “Dr” or “Professor” in front of them.

I will remember this as a time for family closeness, when we were isolated from the world, and we only had each other. And a time that internet connectivity became our lifeblood. We were disconnected from the world without it. It enabled us to see friends and family, often on Zoom, WhatsApp video, or some other app. It enabled us to work from home, depending on what we did. In some cases, it helped us to keep in contact with loved ones in faraway countries, and those fighting for survival in hospital.

In his opinion piece on this page, Ronen Ayres hits the nail on the head. We are, in fact, learning to live the way our children were programmed to be. I genuinely believe that this period is easier for most of them than it is for us.

They are born into a world of the internet of things. Many of them are happily living their lives online rather than wanting to rush around to do things. They have been communicating online for most of their lives, often not even needing to talk, but rather texting each other.

Their main connection with the people next door or in other countries is via the world wide web. Though we often worried about them – and I guess, to be honest, we probably still do, they have long been living in the world we find ourselves in right now. They started living in this world long before being thrust into it by COVID-19.

They are now leading us in how we live our lives going forward. To them, working from home on project-based employment was perfectly feasible and acceptable, but to us, it seemed unstable and insecure. They don’t feel the need for stability and foundation, they prefer flexibility.

We have a lot to learn, and the time of COVID-19 is pointing to them as our teachers.

The other thing that this time has brought to our attention is how intrinsic racism is to our lives. George Floyd is a name that will indelibly be linked to this time. His murder at the hands of police officers in the United States struck a match that literally ignited a #blacklivesmatter fire around the globe. It reminded us of apartheid, and the big racial problems we still have right here.

It also seems to have made some people believe that racism is acceptable. I speak about Simone Kriel, who was unapologetic about her antisemitism a few weeks back, and Dustyn Drummer’s comments reported in this week’s newspaper (on page 1). The shocking part for me is that they don’t really see that expressing their outrageous beliefs about Jews is a problem.

There is nothing acceptable about racism, antisemitism, sexism, or any kind of hatred towards people because of the way they were born.

I hope that when we look back at the time of COVID-19, we are able to see how much we have grown, leaving behind the ugliness of this time, because we have learnt a better way of life.

I hope we can take the hardship of this time, and make it better by learning to treat everyone with respect, from our millennial or Generation Z children to people of other races.

Also, I hope that we can recognise that when we hold someone in high esteem, it shouldn’t be because they are rich or powerful but because they do good in this world and make saving lives paramount. Those are the real heroes!

Shabbat Shalom!

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