This is not my battle…

I was chatting to a friend last week about the effect that the lockdown has had on us. We had hoped that we would have had time to assess what was really important to us, to learn to focus on what needs to change so that our lives display our values, to be grateful for what we have. Despite my friend being one of the most selfless people I know, she confessed that she had realised to her horror that she had become more selfish, rather than more outward looking. She had realised what important things she did not have, and what securities she wanted in the future. These things involve access to the private health sector and the required financial stability that gives access to it.

I could certainly identify. In terms of these longings, we are all on common ground. We don’t want to get sick. We want to be able to earn well enough to meet our needs for nutrition, shelter and health. The two are closely connected.

Taking a bird’s eye view of where we are as a country going into level 3, we also have these two common goals:

Limit the spread of covid 19 – don’t get infected, and don’t infect others.

Get the economy going – get to work, make an income, get others to work, so many of us can make a living.

These two are also interdependent. It feels too obvious to state, but I will any way: keeping infections low is key to keeping the economy open. I may feel I have little influence on getting the economy going, but I actually do have an important part to play:

If I am continuing to follow the usual guidelines, to wash my hands for 20 seconds, wear a mask and spatial distance on the limited occasions I go outside my home, it will make a difference. Where possible, limiting my time in poorly ventilated, enclosed spaces with a group of other people, can still help to flatten or stretch the curve. According to Erin S. Bromage (article link below) the main sources for infection observed in other countries are “home, workplace, public transport, social gatherings, and restaurants”. So I will continue to follow the restrictions the government has put in place, but I will also avoid inside social gatherings that are now permitted. Even where I have to be in an enclosed space, I will try to limit the length of time I spend there. (Risk of Infection = Intensity of Exposure x Time Exposed) I am aware that for some, these choices are more limited.

In terms of getting the economy going, what we decide to spend our money on matters. I will continue to buy South African products, and support the small businesses that I know.

This is not my battle…it’s everyone’s battle. All our small contributions towards health and the economy added together can make it happen. It feels like we are living in tension – that we need to choose between health and the economy – instead, let’s make thought-thru choices, live intentionally and choose both.


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