Privilege in the Time of Covid-19

Pandemic Diary Day 13

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April 6, 2020

A Video was put up on YouTube by Dr. Arthur Williams. Here is what it says:

“Social distancing is a privilege. It means you live in a house large enough to practise it. Hand washing is a privilege too. It means you have access to running water. Hand sanitisers are a privilege. It means you have money to buy them. Lockdowns are a privilege. It means you can afford to be at home. Most of the ways to ward the Corona off are accessible only to the affluent. In essence, a disease that was spread by the rich as they flew around the globe will now kill millions of the poor. All of us who are practising social distancing and have imposed a lockdown on ourselves must appreciate how privileged we are. Many Indians won’t be able to do any of this.”

I have no idea who Dr. Williams is but his words rang so true to me.

I spent two years working for two months each year, in Bihar, the poorest state in India.

My first year was 2017 when India’s toxic air claimed 1.24 million lives and I was receiving funny meme’s from friends around the globe. To be fair I don’t think it was possible to comprehend from so far away how horrific it was. I discussed then the lack of masks and the horrendous plight of the millions that lived on the streets.

Then in 2018 I was there when California, had a total of 8,527 fires that burned an area of 1,893,913 acres, and the news was rife with people searching for masks, and graciously giving them to the homeless. This was the year that gave us the law requiring California business to stock N95 masks for their employees.

It was sickened by the vitriol on Twitter that was directed at Indians when they pointed out how privileged Californian’s were to have houses to escape to with recirculating fresh air and their ease of getting masks, while millions of Indians were once again chocking their way through each and every day, had no where to hide, and no masks to buy. I learned to stay off Twitter for a while.

India is not the only place with these difficulties, San Francisco has more than its share of people that live on the street, as do most every medium and large sized town in America.

Here is a snippet from an article in the Washington Post : Earl Samples got in line outside of what looked like a wedding tent. For almost 40 years, Miriam’s has provided food for the homeless across from the Watergate. It’s usually busting in the dining room, which is exactly what led the charity to move its service outside.“The only place in town with bathrooms and breakfast for us,” said Samples, 34. More than a dozen people — an older man in smart ankle-high walking shoes, a woman in layers of billowing skirts — stood behind him, waiting for hot pancakes, home fries and eggs.

The staff tried to keep their visitors apart while they congregated to talk about this new world where all of them wandered what felt like an abandoned city.

“They say ‘Keep washing your hands, keep clean,’ ” said a man dressed in camo. “But where are we supposed to go do this? Everything is closed.”

The quote from Dr. Williams at the top, is true for anyone that doesn’t have the luxuries so many take for granted.

I am not here to solve the problem, it is far more complex than that, I simply want to re-iterate to the many people complaining about being cooped up in their homes with food delivery, cocktail delivery and live streaming movies, that much of the world is just not as lucky as you and we need to be increasing our capacity for kindness and charity.

I also want to note that every single time I talk to someone about this situation, they always begin with “I am so lucky, I know others do not have it as good as I do”.

For a further deep dive into how poverty and race factor into this I suggest you read this New York Times op-ed by Charles M. Blow.

Update on April 9, 2020. An upside of the pandemic is the fact that everyone’s air is getting cleaner. The people in New Delhi are seeing blue sky for the first time in decades, and likewise, people are seeing the Himalayas from 100 miles away for the first time in decades.

Trivial Things

My Horoscope for today: Each person you talk to opens another door. The beauty of today’s grand trine in air is that those doors all lead to where you want to go.

The NYT Crossword Puzzle: Very easy with a devil of a theme

San Francisco weather: 55 degrees and rain

NYSE DOW opened at: 21693

Italian word of the day: oscuramento (dimming)

Spanish word of the day: el aire puro (fresh air)

OED word of the day: geodesy

Days under Shelter In Place: 24

Reading: The Clancys of Queens: A Memoir by Tara Clancy

Reading Canto VIII of Dante’s Inferno

My Black and White Picture of the Day

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