Beauty even in the darkest of places
As I was taking my final constitutional here in Calahonda, the curly finger having been wagged and airlines having collaborated (eventually), it struck me that this is a way of life that could be on the verge of extinction.
The extreme speed with which this virus has spread, the extreme lack of preparedness of municipalities, provinces, countries and continents, the extreme stupidity of some of the utterances coming from leaders’ mouth (Trump, Johnson, to name but two – i.e. the usual suspects) must have woken the more intelligent members of the international community from their torpor. (Or maybe they were never in a torpor, it was just their voices were being drowned out by populist rhetoric.)
I awoke to the news today that Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau had the virus and Justin Trudeau was self-isolating. These are people who will receive the best of medical attention, who are young and strong, and who will consequently likely make a full and speedy recovery. Many of the tens of millions in the US who will be infected by this will not have the same luxury. Or the UK, to be honest, because for the current governments in those countries, a fully functional and strong national health service is either not worth the cost (UK) or socialist and untrustworthy (USA). You reap what you sew, and many of the poorest who voted for populist rhetoric will suffer the most. This is devastating – and will potentially leave a legacy long after this current wave of tragedy has passed (“a wall of death” as I read an NHS nurse calling it).
Everything we do will have to be reviewed. Travel, trade, migration, everything. It is convenient to help China’s economy because it allows big corporations to get their products made cheaply and avoid paying western wages and, among other things, health benefits. I’m not blaming China for this; its history and culture is thousands of years old and is rich and beautiful. But when we do not demand accepted international standards from our trading partners – the markets inflict shameful and inhumane treatments on animals, who are kept in cramped spaces where disease can more easily propagate, for example – we are complicit in situations that arise.
I blame industry. I blame myself. I am as guilty of wanting to pay $5 less for a book from Amazon than I would have to pay at my local bookstore. I want to get things cheaper, so I turn a blind eye to their provenance, I am an enabler. But make no mistake, the corporations are the criminals here. Raking in ever-increasing levels of profit to please their shareholders, to line their pockets, to make their lives better at the expense of billions of others. If you buy from this, you too are an enabler.
There is a different way and it is one I am going to make sure I follow and will educate Ottawacker Jr. to do the same. Buy local. Not from China or the US or Mexico or anywhere else that provides a cheaper alternative to local produce. Boycott box stores, Internet-based companies, global giants. There is a different way, and it is one we can all choose. Once the dust has settled down and we have buried our dead.
I’m not going to talk about the shocking ineptitude of Boris Johnson and the horrific comments he made, as if any single human being is worth sacrificing. I hope those comments come back to bite him. He has shown his colours – he did to many of us before he became London mayor even. I am going to start to make my way home today, via the Spanish epicentre Madrid, and catch a flight to Canada tomorrow, following which I will self-isolate for 14 days in my basement. Apparently, that is not entirely needed, but it is responsible. What happens if… has to be the new mantra.
This was a gloomy walk, make no doubt about it. What I want to do is going to be very hard, not least because I am such a sucker for a deal. But I can do it – and if I can do it, anyone can. I was in a proper funk, no two ways about it. But then, as I moved off the sand to the boardwalk that takes me back to the complex I am in, I saw a beautiful patch of flowers, all purples and whites and yellows, thriving in the sand, under the boardwalk. And it helped me realize that even when things are dark and difficult, beauty can prosper. And that cheered me up on my way back to the apartment.
Finishing this up at Málaga airport where I have just arrived, the taxi driver having told me that 'tomorrow Spain will be closed.'' I think he means its borders, but one never knows. Hopefully I am not stuck in Madrid indefinitely.