I’m not going to discuss the recent tragic death in Jamaica of a mother during her attempts to give birth, but it shows one glaring reality that is often behind why things fail. No system exists in our world that doesn’t depend on human involvement. Correct me, if I’m wrong; even with so-called ‘artificial intelligence’, a human was involved somewhere along the line of the creation—it didn’t just spring out of nowhere or from the natural world. So, in the case of the death, we have learned of a string of human decisions that did not work in favour of the distressed mother. Who will be found culpable and held accountable is another stage; there will be at least one person.
The weeks, now months, of countries dealing with the COVID19 pandemic keep showing flaws in what existed before. I’m not going to list everything, but will touch on a few that seem noteworthy.
Commuting as a standard feature in how people’s lives were structured; we can blame that on the motor car or cheap fuel, or the development of rapid mass transit systems, but it was a fact of modern life.
Associated with that ease of movement for work, came ease of movement for leisure and the ability to shrink the world with mass transport like airplanes and huge ships, so that time, distance and water were hardly barriers, anymore.
Homes not being the centre of social and economic life. It’s been a long time coming, and we can find fault with the industrial revolution for accelerating the process, but leaving the home for work has also been how life has been structured. At some far-off time in the past, when life was truly agrarian, the fields that were worked were not always adjacent to the home, but they would be a decent close distance, first on foot and then with the aid of animals and then by powered vehicles. Even if some had to leave the home to do gainful activities, the home was often a place of much industry—the term ‘cottage industry’ has literal meaning.
Urbanization has been a huge problem, with the physical, social and economic activity in interconnectedness of large groups of people.
The problems human actions create are often never dealt with by those who create them. At a simple level, the pandemic was started by people acting in ways that are generally thought risky for human health. Once identified, the problems were not corrected by others not following the practices, and those with responsibility taking decision to curb its spread. Fast forward several months and we have countries dealing with the rampant infection. National authorities taking different views about the severity of the problem and how to deal with it.
Citizens are making their assessment of the meaning of the pandemic and acting accordingly, with a range of an overabundance of caution and total disregard for the manner in which the virus is believed to spread. At its simplest, one person meets another less than 2 metres apart, one is masked, the other not; they shake hands, and exchange kisses; their hands touch their faces and then each other. I need not go on. Multiply and modify that a billion times and it’s easy to see that we have a major problem.
We’re never safe in this world simply because of what we do, individually; we need collective action. We cannot run away from danger most of the time. We need others to take care of us as we would ideally take care of ourselves. That simple truth will be at the bottom of how we get out of the pandemic hole. But, as always, the weakest link in the chain of successfully fighting against the virus is another human, and history has proved that there is the weakest link.