It is, when I get down to it, fear.
Fear because the people who need to care don’t care.
Fear because I can’t get them to care. I can’t get them to listen. I can’t get them to even care about maybe listening.
The people with power and influence in this country are an interesting mix of right-wing economists and social libertarians, albeit libertarians who contrarily want to impose their libertarian views. It’s not the libertarians that worry me, though, because by and large they can’t force me into a behaviour I disagree with. If you think (to take a currently socially unacceptable example) that polygamy is fine, it doesn’t mean I have to enter a polygamous relationship.
But where your views really do affect my life is in the economic sphere. When you’re saying your teenager can’t cope with their life being put on hold for a year whilst we deal with coronavirus, you’re advocating for a world that puts a year of your teenager’s life above the remainder of other people’s lives.
In fact if we all have our lives put on hold for a year then, guess what? No-one misses out! Or at least, we all miss out equally. Some people miss a year of their childhood, some a year of being teen-aged. Frankly, it would do a lot of people good to have an extra year of maturity under their skin before they tackle major exams. Other people are missing out on a year of marriage. Some are missing out on the first year of being with their niece or nephew or grandchild. Other people are just having a slightly boring year. Some people are having unnecessarily stressful years because of government decisions.
Some people are missing out on the rest of their life.
Did you know that a person who has reached 75 can expect to live another 12 years? Even at 95 you can still expect another 3 years. There are people dying now who should have had years of life ahead, and you want them to give it up so that your teenager doesn’t need to postpone their ‘life’ by a year?
When you say you can’t cope with the restrictions of Covid19, you’re displaying an astonishingly shocking level of selfishness. The sheer idea that you might have to live without X Y or Z! When there are millions of people in this country who through poverty or illness or other reason have been living without it for years.
How dare you belittle our lives as not worth living.
How dare you think you have a God-given right to your middle-class, Western, self-centred life.
How dare you trade off other people’s lives for your pleasure.
How dare you in your ignorance say that it’s fine for people to go back to work because of course their employers have spent the last six weeks getting workplaces ready for social distancing. What country do you live in!? These are employers who don’t apply decent working conditions even in normal times, and the government doesn’t stop them. They are employers who can pay poverty wages because the government has made benefits so pittance-level that people take poverty wages in toxic jobs out of dire necessity. These employers haven’t spent the last six weeks getting ready for social distancing, because they didn’t close in the first place. They didn’t let people take furlough. They sacked people rather than pay sick pay. Because they can. Because the government agrees that that is what work should be like: as flexible as possible for the employer, as deadly as you can get away with for the employee.
So this is why I feel sick. Because good people don’t know how bad it is. And powerful people are more focussed on a year of their teenager’s life than the death of the poor.