September 11th, 2021


arguing for ambivalence

quite tired this past week, waking at 4/5am almost every day, finishing ~3/4pm, conking out in bed until 7/8pm, having dinner, watching a bit of tv and then heading back to bed again cos scared the next day can’t wake in time. understudied my first 10am shift today and it’s probably gonna be worse. don’t think i like this life at all. no time for annanas. partly also cos of my sad fungusy pothos.

also tired of the rising covid case count, the rolling back out of fear, and how we can hardly seem to break out of this endless cycle. i know vaccinations are sposed to save us, but that still comes with so many caveats, scientists still have so many unknowns.

for everyone who believes we should quickly reopen and covid should now be treated as endemic, i have this to ask - at the cost of how many deaths, how many yet-unknown long-covid cases - and how many of our young or loved ones will feature in these stats? for everyone who believes we should roll down the shutters again, stay home, tighten measures, i wonder - at the cost of how many jobs, how big and lasting a long-term economic impact, how much wider the wealth disparity - and how many of us and our young will suffer depressed wages for a long time to come as a result?

no clear answers, of course - everything requires balance - but plenty of fear that the virus will once more mutate to cause greater harm among even the fully vaxxed, precisely because the vaxxed and unvaxxed are now allowed to mingle somewhat freely once more, and more vaccinated people are catching the virus, hence giving it more chances of adapting to vaccinated bodies.

for the authorities, they’ll be counted as doing their job well if they keep our healthcare systems smoothly oiled with plenty of spare capacity and the economy back up running - it’s after all their job to take the bird’s eye view of the entire situation. on the lower, personal level, however, we should give it some closer thought…

it’s all very well to go about resuming our social activities, and i’m perfectly happy to do so and be able to dine out freely once again. but if, for example, you, your parent or your child were to catch the illness - even if fully vaxxed and symptoms mild for now - will your views then still be the same? if personally faced with the virus now, will you not wonder how it may continue to affect you, your parent - and especially your child - in the long run? will you not feel like, maybe we should have stayed home more, maybe government shouldn’t have this or that, etc? (current studies show the fully vaxxed are far less likely to develop long-haul covid even if they catch the virus, but scientists have pointed out that their long-haul symptoms may just be going unnoticed for now precisely cos their illness was so mild, being vaxxed.)

again, no easy answers; in part also because of all these yet unknowns. we can only exercise our asian caution by masking up, washing hands frequently, limiting some social interactions, generally behaving responsibly and doing the best we can. yes, indeed, many things in life are uncertain and life is often much about risks. <— i agree. but also to the people who insist on the utter rightness of this statement in our covid circumstances, i also have this to say - in money markets, you take risks and if you made the wrong bet, you lose money that can be earned back at some point. in work, you take risks and if you took a wrong step, you lose credibility, your reputation or some chance at promotion or increment; it’ll be hard climbing back up but 东家不打打西家 and 天无绝人之路. in marriage or relationships, you take a leap of faith and if they fail you, you’re broken but “time heals all wounds” and at some point you move on, even if incompletely. in covid, if the risks you (and all the people around you) took led to, say, your young child ending up in icu having to receive assisted breathing for days and eventually is found to have lung scarring… how do you remove lung scarring and all its lasting effects for the rest of their little life? at which point, you’d be wishing that no one had ever been allowed to take any risks, even if that risk were just a one in a million chance.

i’m not trying to make a case for shutting down or not reopening, as many may misunderstand me to be doing. i’m just trying to ask people to try to imagine another perspective, if covid were to strike you much closer to home and much, much closer to the people you hold most dear… would you still feel the same? that’s what i’m asking.

also, don’t forget that governments’ directives are now relying heavily on experts’ advice (the doctors, scientists, global health authorities, etc). and rightly so, because they are the experts who have spent their lives studying the subject matter after all. but don’t forget too that it wasn’t so long ago that the government, relying on who advice, told us that we shouldn’t need to mask up unless we’re ill, only to have to make a 180-degree turn soon after as cases started growing. it really isn’t our government’s fault imo, and circumstances change quickly too. but what i’m really trying to say here is, governments don’t always know it all either. (though our government has already done a fantastic job; our death rate is still incredibly low…)

this whole soliloquy was just another exercise in working out the mess of thoughts in my head. still, no clear conclusion about the rightness or wrongness of anything. i’m truly ambivalent both about the reopening and the rolling back on the reopening. what difficult times we live in these days, what grey spaces lie between. some days i wish there were more certainty in things, in life; someone to tell me this is the right way to think, the right argument to adopt, the right way to go about doing things, as i used to believe there was… but growing up also involves realising that many/most things are never really truly fully right, or wrong.