No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
The phrase “no man is an island” has been popping up for me since the much earlier phase of the epidemic (now pandemic). From my tiny human eyes, I thought it was Creator’s phrase of support (that we are not alone) while at the same time a phrase of reminder (that we are part of a much much much larger whole) and that it takes an entire community to weave watertightness. That was in early Feb, when the case in my neighbourhood got confirmed, and I felt that the entire world has closed in. (Thank you to everyone who has been such encouraging moral support then… ❤ it really means alot alot to me.)
It would have been great if I had solely been in this woven world of common panic (hehe! when everyone panics together, it can be rather calming! 😉 I love my brilliant logic). BUT, the reality was that I was still travelling to a place where numbers were scarce (Cambodia has just 1!!!!! for a long time!) and common sense would just lead to a clear knowingness that numbers were either suppressed or just not something the country cared about. Or cares about, I doubt they have started caring yet.
It was not easy being the first ones to be hit. I get asked by colleagues about circumstances back home. Which of course is nice and something I appreciate. At the same time, I get many remarks and comments about paranoia. My paranoia, my country’s paranoia. It was annoying, you would know how annoying it is to be judged. Being cautious and paying special attention to social protocols in times of disease IS NOT PARANOIA. It is called Social Distancing, which was probably unheard of to most (including myself) until health authorities embark on their race to stop or slow things. To me, honestly, it is just plain common sense and good social etiquette. I am not at all being rude to say that I will not share food, or that I will not dine at crowded places. Or at least I do not see that as rude but mere social / health common sense. Maybe offensive to some, but heck, my family, my community, my fellow countrymen are a lot more important than that.
Travel bans paranoid? Not at all, not in my opinion. Do you know how relieved I was when restrictions were put in place. They took a while to do that, but I can understand too, there is much at stake because life and economy has to go on post-epidemic and nobody could tell that it was going to turn into such a huge event now. I was relieved when I get to walk in a straight line, rather than to dodge certain groups because I was afraid and trying to maintain my 2m bubble. Now the tide has turned, and guess the concern now is whether the country I am shuttling weekly to will one day land on the extending list of restrictions.
I am really thankful for and proud of being a SGporean. I woke up one day thinking how kind Creator was to have my country being one of the earliest hit. Yes, it was a strange random thought, but I did not blog anything then because it was a scary time and I did not want to jinx anything. I naively thought it would be something kept in this continent or at most the Asia Pacific. S A R S was the only benchmark I knew and it was predominantly an “Asian disease”. But it hit us really hard then, so hard that it is hard to imagine that was seventeen years ago (it felt like just a few years?). So yes, all the alarms rang in my head, my family’s heads, and I am sure to everyone’s in this region. It was pretty easy to get the buy-in on all the restrictions and directions, because we had that “dress rehearsal” seventeen years back.
When I was getting all the annoying remarks, I just reminded myself, “right, these people didn’t go through S A R S … ” so I can be more forgiving and less annoyed and get on with life. So, my point about Creator’s kindness was that He gave us a dress rehearsal across time, so we could progress better as the bigger one hits. He also gave us dress rehearsals across space. The other point about Creator’s kindness was to hit a small country that has always served as a model (“if all else remains constant” .. hehe) so that the bigger ones can be prepared with what can potentially work. I guess the biggest kindness was to have China buy time for the rest of the world.
In summary, I guess pandemic sounded like too big a word when it first started. Now that it has blown and burst through our continent, the rest of the world can look back at hindsight on the lessons (good and bad), and hopefully still have time to do something productive about it. Sometimes I read comments and opinions about “too late” (or maybe there is already a hashtag for it?) but I don’t think it is ever “too late” to do whatever it takes to save any lives still hanging on a string. We might have lost time, but it is not “too late”. Maybe the more relevant thought should be “are we doing enough?”
Creator has also proven that really, no man is an island, not even our tiny little literal island. It is scary out there, but … well … we are all in this together. Let’s brave it together.