I’ve seen something strange and disturbing in the headlines this morning and that it is ….Optimism. Specifically, optimism from the government. I am deeply suspicious when the government says ‘Things are looking up’ or ‘Everything will be all right.’ My first thought is that they are covering something up. We all remember last year, when Trump was saying “15 cases, soon it will be zero” when he had already been briefed that the death toll would likely be in the hundreds of thousands. They will justify the lie later, saying they don’t want to cause a panic. Trump said he saw himself as a cheerleader for the county, a statement that gave us all a horrific mental image and ignored the fact that his country needed a quarterback, not a cheerleader.
My other worry about governmental optimism is that it’s not rooted in reality. Today’s headlines are giving hope to British Holidaymakers that they will be able to go abroad this summer. Of course, there are only 8 countries on the Safe list: USA, Malta, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Gibraltar, New Zealand and Australia. (Of course, New Zealand and Australia aren’t accepting tourists, so I think they’re just padding out the list). They are once again employing a Traffic Light system to designate level of risk and restriction.
This is where my ‘Optimism not rooted in reality’ suspicions kick in. Or at least, ‘Optimism is the triumph of hope over experience.’ Because we have tried the traffic light system before. Late 2020 gave us a list of Green, Amber and Red countries, so people bolted to the green countries. People often travelled to the Amber and Red countries via the Green countries. And Boy Howdy, how quickly those designations changed. Countries went from Green to Red within days, giving travellers 24-48 hours notice to get home or be stranded. Given the surge in case numbers the UK saw in December, we probably should have designated ourselves a Red country, and some countries did just that. I remember the story of 200 British tourists staging an escape from a luxury resort “under cover of darkness” because the Swiss government had changed the rules. (I will save my rant about the entitled rich people flouting rules for another day).
The Traffic light system is too simplistic to be a solution for the complex and intricate problems were are faced with right now. The same goes for the Tier System, or regional lockdowns. They’ve all been tried, and they only work out if you’re on a remote island with total control over who enters and exits. There are no easy solutions, no quick fixes and no exemptions to the problems of the pandemic. The Virus is global, because there are people everywhere, and people are mobile. And sadly, when we travel, we bring our diseases with us, either as gifts to the host nation or as souvenirs we bring back home.
I wish we could travel freely, or even to the limited places the government has listed. We’ve been under restrictions for so long and we’re all going a bit stir crazy. But give people an inch and they will take a mile. Loosen the restrictions a little and people will look for the loopholes to justify whatever they want to do.
Right now, I think the greatest risk we face is losing all the progress we’ve made. If we have to go back to square one, or even square one hundred, I’m not sure I’ve got the mental resources to start over. There’s only so much Banana bread you can bake in one lifetime, and I think we’ve all passed that limit.