Finding the Up Side

It seems silly that the blog is about the up side of life and just when, in a world broken on the back of a global pandemic, I should be filling the blog with joyful and optimistic posts, I go deathly quiet. I’m finding that staying bright and cheerful is pretty hard work – even for a half-full person.

So, rather than bore people with euphemistic posts about how you can stay happy in the face of this new, unknown and hostile environment (that the world turned to in March) – where street violence, rank stupidity and gross ineptitude have been exposed to public horror, I should restrict myself to writing about how I have been keeping myself “happy and occupied”.

Except, it is difficult – have I been happy and occupied? No, I haven’t – I have been bombarded with news on all media – social and anti-social – about how crass political cupidity and stupidity has translated itself to a forced push towards establishing Herd Immunity in the UK and the USA.

This might well be the “best solution” in the long term – history may well prove me wrong – but exposing millions of families to the risk of catching COVID 19, because the call of a beach, a concert, a public park outweighs common sense, seems completely insane to me. Does catching COVID 19 once mean that, in future, survivors will be immune? The answer, at the moment. is not necessarily – even though we can hope – a lot will depend on how effective vaccines are and whether we can continue to reduce risk.

The problem with people who take risks with their own health (and the lives of everyone around them), is that they also threaten the health of the nurses and carers who have to deal with them.

At the same time that this lemming-like rush to share public spaces is occurring, various research documents are demonstrating the cruel disparity of racial resistance to viral infection. Reports from June 2020 demonstrate that, in the USA, a disproportionate number of people of colour have died from COVID 19 – twice as many as the number of white people exposed to the same virus. Of course these frightening statistics don’t show how any of the victims were exposed to the virus and that might well be key.

In contrast to other occupational groups, minority groups are well represented in occupations belonging to the Healthcare Support and Personal Care and Services occupational categories. Hispanics have their highest representation among Medical Assistants (26.1 percent), Dental Assistants (22.7 percent), and Personal Care Aides (18.2 percent). Blacks have their highest representation in Nursing, Psychiatric and Home Health Aides (32.0 percent).Sex, Race, and Ethnic Diversity of U.S. Health Occupations (2011-2015) August2017

In other words – a large number of workers in environments associated with the care of others are, themselves, at risk. In fact, they are working in areas where they are most at risk. Applying the principle of Herd Immunity is likely to overwhelm Healthcare professionals and if there is a disproportionate distribution of ‘at risk’ people, within those professionals, that, in turn, puts more of the community, as a whole, at risk.

It seems impossible to believe that, in the middle of this, we have been forced to watch an upsurge in racism within the policing community that we trusted to protect us.

The world has gone mad and we are just watching it disintegrate, as extremists take advantage of otherwise silent, empty spaces to force their opinions on the rest of us. How did we get to a position where overt racism is being condoned by any politician – when we voted these politicians into power in the first place? I don’t support violence, full stop, whether in the groups demonstrating against racial abuse or by those meant to be policing them – but I do support the right to protest and, in this case, the anti-racism cause that they represent – and I can understand the frustration that all must feel about the institutional racism that has been allowed to continue, unopposed for generations.

The world would be a better place if there were more statues to William Wilberforce than to the slavers he opposed when his bill to abolish the Slave Trade in the UK and the British Empire was passed in 1807 – barely thirty-one years after the birth of the United States of America.

Then there are the increased risks to the elderly and those with weak immune systems (already suffering from other potentially life-threatening conditions). Those of us with aging family and friends are left feeling helpless in the face of the risk we take each time we visit them, or shop for them or deal with their needs.

In the face of the events this year, in the face of fears for the future, if there is to be one – I am humbled by those, among us, striving to find the Up Side. I am in awe of those at risk, who continue to care for those whose misguided idiocy or sheer bad luck has made them ill. My Up Side is that these people exist – that many are my friends – that good people just grit their teeth and carry on – that we will all go down fighting to the last, to protect those we love and that maybe, by sheer weight of numbers, justice for the disadvantaged will happen soon. I have to hope that a cure for the pandemic will be found. Dare I also hope that a cure for the racism and prejudice that has plagued too many communities will be discovered, soon?

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