The hard choices
As we start to look, however tentatively, at coming out of lockdown we are going to have to make some hard choices both as individuals, as a nation, and as a global family.
The choices are hard, but they need to be made. At the moment we have chosen to ignore them. Politicians say “every human life is precious” and so we shelter and live in fear. We have not always done this, nor can we continue to do. We would never have come out of the cave without the willingness to face the sabre-toothed tiger. We need to find our ability to live with risk again and decide what price we are prepared to pay as a society for the way we choose to live.
Risk and death are fundamental to human life. In the last hundred years we have become used to our life-span expanding, to disease receding and to the much maligned “Health and Safety Rules” making our lives less risky.
Yet we are still prepared to tolerate 1.35 million deaths world-wide from road traffic accidents, and good luck to any politician who thinks they might take cars off the road to save lives. We allow diseases such as malaria, which could be eradicated with money and political will to kill hundreds of thousands of children. We see pictures of the starving and we give a little cash and do nothing to change the systems that allow them to starve.
We choose risk, we choose death for many because it suits us and supports our way of life. Covid19 has brought some of these choices into stark relief. We have made the choice to destroy our economy to save lives from Covid, yet we are prepared to increase the certainty of increased deaths from stroke, heart attacks and cancer as if those deaths are less important than the Covid deaths. We have destroyed businesses and imposed long lasting poverty on many to shelter those who are over 70 and those with pre-existing conditions.
As someone who is over 70 I believe this to be the wrong choice. We have had our lives, for most of us they have been great lives, we have lived in a time of peace and comparative plenty. Much of the ruination of the world can be laid at our door – our children and grandchildren have to pick up the pieces.
Time to make the hard choices, to learn the lessons, to manage the risk and to embrace living (and our friends and family) and go forward.