Living Privileged in the Age of COVID
Coronavirus, COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 are all ways that this hideous severe acute respiratory syndrome has been referred to as. We all long for the day when this will no longer dominate the news or our discussions. We also look forward to when we are not asked the same self screen health questions each time we schedule a wellness visit, go to a salon, gym or pretty much any normal place. Exactly what is normal depends on where you live. We in our modern day society are somewhat privileged. That may sound strange as we know that not all of us have the same healthy lifestyles and not all have access to quality healthcare, education, and decent paying jobs. However, even with the limitations that some in our society may have, it is still more than many less fortunate people around the globe have. There are organizations and activists in society that are trying to change the inhumane issues of homelessness and poverty. In some parts of the world, those that are displaced are further attacked and targeted and there are no discussions on how to solve those issues.
In almost all modern day societies across the globe particularly in well to do countries, there is some level of rebellion against any measures that a government deems necessary to curb, stop and avoid further damage from COVID-19. Whether it is violent protest, blatant ignorance or failure to follow institutional imposed solutions, privilege gets in the way. The dilemmas that do not get enough coverage are in those parts of the world where famine, death, rape, and mass murder have not stopped just because of a world wide pandemic. In these places, not only do people still have to fight for the right of basic necessities like health, food, water, and safety, but they also have to fight for access to treatment along with protection from the virus.
Privilege does not exist in these areas. Imagine having to line up for oxygen or being turned away from a medical facility because they are too overwhelmed. Things got dire here in the states and in many instances people were advised not to come to the hospital because they were overwhelmed with COVID patients. Elective surgeries were cancelled and those seeking medical care for routine or chronic health conditions were encouraged not to come in unless there was an emergency. These were not simple inconveniences for a society used to unlimited access to healthcare. This represented the critical and devastating reality of a pandemic that was out of control. Yet, we are still privileged considering that before the pandemic and now, there are parts of the world that had no access to healthcare or basic necessities you find in modern day society. The same extreme conditions we were exposed to during this pandemic were a common way of life for too many across the globe. Once the harsh circumstances of the pandemic hit, it only worsened and in many instances broke what was already damaged in many parts of the world.
We are now divided over what many are saying are our basic human rights.The argument has gotten absurd enough to where some are again rallying against a non-medical, non invasive mitigation strategy of wearing masks for our kids nonetheless. Vaccine hesitancy still exists justifiably so within some communities. Great care is being taken to address this fact. Understanding this divide, wearing a mask when possible to protect kids, the elderly, and our immunocompromised fellow humans costs you nothing. This is a privilege that we have to be able to rally against something for the common good of our fellow human beings. It is a privilege to go on living life as normal, going to parties, weddings, movies, theaters, restaurants, and other socially interactive activities. While we have our privileged lives, others are struggling. As humans, we continue to live recklessly with our lives, nature and all of its inhabitants. This issue is not indicative to one country or one race. This is a human issue. Our selfish needs replace the human decency and compassion we should have for one another. I recently watched an episode from Grey’s Anatomy's recent season that further demonstrated this. I commend the writers for doing such a great job in the accurate portrayal of the impacts of COVID-19 not just on families but on healthcare professionals as well. Imagine sacrificing seeing your family and your own health to care for patients who not only do not believe in the virus but have little disregard for your safety. This was the case with a patient on the show who blatantly failed to believe in COVID-19 or accept medical treatment from a doctor who was still battling her own grief in losing her parent to the virus. In addition, the show highlighted that some do not have the option to isolate themselves from their loved ones or take off from work thus risking infecting others and their families.
It is becoming clear that this virus may become more endemic as time goes on. It is more evident that we as humans are not helping or using the tools at hand to improve things. As long as one underdeveloped, impoverished or politically unstable country exists in the world, this pandemic will continue to be a problem for all. There can be no such thing as living with privilege during a pandemic. I believe we all need to ask ourselves what we can do to continue to thrive while considering our fellow human beings so that they can be afforded the same opportunities to have the basic necessities of life particularly during a pandemic. Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” It is time that we as humans step up and do much more and stop focusing on upholding our entitlements while our fellow brothers and sisters suffer. We need to stop living privileged and humble ourselves so that we can defeat COVID-19 together.