Yesterday I had kind of a surreal experience.
My Mandarin teacher is also fluent in Spanish and has recently volunteered to translate between the hospital in Wuhan at the centre of the outbreak and hospitals in Spain, now so badly affected by the virus.
During our lesson I spoke to her about my family member with Coronavirus, and an additional condition that puts them in a higher risk category.
Not 5 minutes after our lesson ended, I received a message from her, and she had a doctor from the hospital in Wuhan, a leading world expert on Coronavirus on the phone, ready for a remote-phone consultation, me with my family member on WhatsApp, relaying messages to be translated for the doctor in in China.
Their kindness and consideration was heart-warming, and it was evident that they were very surprised that in the UK we are not admitting people into hospital sooner. They made it clear that I was welcome to contact them at any time I needed to in the future. It’s a strange world… where a remote consultation with a leading expert in China is easier to get than an appointment with a local GP!
Time for a rethink?
I hope that culturally we have a rethink after this, I hope we reconsider our priorities, I hope we realise who and what is important in our society. I hope those people, infrastructures, and organisations are given the rewards and the investments that they need. I hope our rampant consumerism, greed, and throw away culture is curtailed. I hope we slow down and help improve the environment, both our immediate environments, and the larger picture.
I know that many people are thinking along the same lines, and I know that many are almost enjoying the current change of pace and focus that is being thrust upon them.
I’m not sure that I fall into that category but I do know that I am stopping and thinking about the consequences of my actions more, altering spending habits, reducing waste, feeling grateful for the people who are still working tirelessly in our hospitals despite years of cuts and austerity, those collecting my bins, bringing food to the shelves (or doorsteps, if you’re lucky), keeping our key infrastructure going, so that society at large can retreat and isolate, and hopefully return to a new kind of normal as quickly as possible.