“May You Live In Interesting Times”

When life takes a turn for the difficult, I’ve often heard people say, “I must have been cursed.” Of course, modern society doesn’t really believe in curses unless it is a verbal spray of nasty language. That said, I recall my mother often saying that the old curse, “May you live in interesting times,” did seem to have some validity.

Everyone can see that on the surface this might be a nice thing to say to someone. We deem ‘interesting’ as a good thing. Yet this curse intends anything but ‘nice.’ And so, I currently believe we are living through those ‘interesting times.’

I started this blog bemoaning the bushfires and what had happened to our little corner of the world. Then I watched as floods wreaked havoc to places around New South Wales. We’d already spent years in drought, on water restrictions and now various places had an over-abundance of water.

Add to that, we are now having to come to terms with Covid-19 and what that means. And I am not alone in thinking it’s only the beginning of a much worse situation. Yet, speaking to friends, aquaintances and just people around in the shops when looking at empty toilet paper shelves, there seems to still be a modicum of hope.

Each day I read the online news from feeds I’m pretty sure will give me the up to date correct facts (these can be hard to find). I’ve stopped watching television news. The tiny sounds bites give sensationalism and little to none of what you need to know. Don’t even mention politicians.

Our area of the South Coast of NSW, the Eurobodalla Shire, has suffered economic downturn due to the fires. Just as people and tourists were coming back we are asked to self-isolate. We have the highest percentage of people over 60 in NSW, the lowest ratio of children at school and 48% of what’s left in the workforce are casual workers. This new threat is going to hit hard.

The thing I’ve noticed so far is that everyone is talking about the craziness of the toilet paper debacle but few are actually thinking about the impact on themselves. I think we are all trying NOT to think about if the virus hits any of us over 60’s. The pared down Health System that successive Liberal governments have managed is in no shape to deal with us if things get bad. There are simply not enough ventilators so triage is going to be the young first.

It’s starting to feel like times in my youth when I still lived in the after-math of war-torn Europe – no real health services, rationing, limited travel – sound familiar? At least the 50’s and 60’s in Australia taught me that you don’t need luxurious toilet paper nor ready made foods. As someone mentioned in a meme recently, Mr Murdoch and his press provide plenty of reserves for the former – just cut into little squares – and Australia has plenty of fresh food to replace the latter. One can always start a garden.

Unfortunately, no-one can quickly up-scale the health systems. Nor, with the current government, does it look like they will help those most in need – those on government pensions/job start. Also those with no jobs or those who work several part-time jobs will find it difficult as they are likely to be the first to be let go. Big business doesn’t care and small business can’t survive keeping on employees when there is no work.

Oh where is the social welfare system when it’s really needed. Oh yeah, sold off to private industry and dismantled *head slap*.

On a brighter note as I sign off, at least relatives and friends are staying positive. We will have to just battle on for ourselves and again become the “Little Aussie Battlers” – no matter our country of origin.

May interesting times please become less interesting and more predictable – I for one don’t mind a bit of chaos, but this is just a little too much thanks :-(.

PHOTO FROM: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mcRCjYy08_s/maxresdefault

Ruminations on ‘The Ides of March’

At school, despite the fact that I often failed the exams, I loved learning Latin. A history buff even then, I delighted in Roman history which I was luckily quite good at and made up for in grades. I love the Ides of March. The Ides is the 15th of March, May, July and October in the Roman calendar – for the other months it was actually the 13th of the month. It’s an interesting date because it is know as the day Caesar was murdered in the Roman Senate. Then, as now, March is a month of festivals in Rome – during the Imperial period Rome hosted religious festivals during March.

In terms of the Ides of March this year, we have had to live through serious bush fires that were followed by floods and now we have the spread of Covid-19. The news this weekend has been full of politicians et al with travel restrictions and health warnings.

Anyone who has had a Christian upbrining will recognise the portents of the biblical apocalypse. You could be forgiven for looking at things currently happening in a very dark and pessimistic way. Yet, over the past 100 years the human race has survived many nasty times periods – two world wars, flu pandemics, the cold war (nuclear destruction) ebola virus, SARs etc. etc. So I’m convinced that we are not about to go up in flames as a race or even as a planet – at least nor for a while yet. Unless of course there is a comet I’m not aware of but let’s not buy trouble.

Still, here we are at the Ides of March and we have all these things that are roiling around making people afraid and stressed. In an effort to learn as much as I can I look to scientific research of which there is much creditable information available on the internet. What I have found are many calm voices out there who say that Covid-19 is a virus that will likely affect many of us. But unless we have immune issues, lung or heart problems, especially if we are elderly with those issues, we will likely survive it.

It makes me wonder about the factor that the media play in the worry and panic Covid-19 has engendered. The whole toilet paper debacle in Australia for example. The media have a social contract to provide information to the public. But I worry about the veracity of information provided by much of the world media. The 24 hour news cycle needs constant hype to keep it going and what better to work into a frenzy than a new and infectious virus.

I’m not saying that we should sit back and do nothing. Follow the advice and wash hands, sneeze and cough responsibly and isolate if necessary. However, it seems many have the virus with few or very mild symptoms – and it’s becoming clear that children between 0-9 may not be badly affected – there seems to have been no recorded deaths from the virus in that age group. And for those who are diagnosed (i.e. tested) there are many out here that have it but don’t know and will not know because symptoms can be quite mild. They are only different to the flu or common cold in that they start with a sore throat and a cough and fever (most often).

I do find the whole news hype not only annoying but misleading. Many, but not all, of the newspapers and television news seem to provide snippets with dire warnings that do nothing to provide the truth. They focus on the places where things seems to be worse without putting it into context of population profiles. They extrapolate this to put out the worst possible scenario.

So, like I suspect many people, I sit at my computer and find reputable science articles that provide a calm and reassuring explanation. Yes, I might get Covid-19 and I may be unwell. Yes, there are currently no vaccine nor drugs (anti-virals or otherwise) to treat it. But the virus has been sequenced (in Australia first), and organisations both academic/research and private are working toward finding a treatment.

It will not be the end of the world. We will be sad if we are one of the few who are badly affected by this virus, or we have a relative or friend who is. But the annual flu round is also coming and is hayfever and the common cold. And the last of these has no treatment either.

So for this Ides of March, I choose to be calm, take useful precautions and thank my lucky stars I’m living in 2020 and not 100BCE where there were no treatments for the horrible plagues that afflicted the world – ones much, much worse than Covid-19.

As a side note, last Friday was the 13th of March – what we think of as a Black Friday these days. Now I’m not really superstitious but I often remark that I really must be a witch because I always seem to have good luck on any Friday 13th. I have no problem when black cats cross my path either (chuckley quietly). This Friday was no exception. Several pieces of good new from insurance companies and repairs on our scorched house made it a great day.

So may calm and peace reward you with a strong immunce system.