On Monday, The UK government put in measures that set democracy back to the dark ages and pushed the UK into a police state, similar to dictatorial regimes, rather than the free democratic country we pride ourselves on. We got the tone and the reason. They are doing this to save lives and it is all a temporary measure. A means to an end, to an unprecedented, never been seen before situation. How quickly we succumbed to their reasoning and the swift way these actions were put into place, with people’s acceptance and somewhat sweet embrace, is a debate to be had for many later years and dinner conversations.
Whichever way you choose to see it, the undeniable truth is, this week our social liberties was stripped away from us. Popping out for a pint of milk, or just some fresh air in the newly spring sun, which chose this week of all week to show its face, requires us to think about, what we have to tell the law enforcement on the streets. Maybe now, we can have the most real experience of what it is like for those around the globe who are living or have lived under dictatorial regimes and apartheid states. In your state of self isolation you have to wonder what is next and how do we adapt? To not only to now, but the future and what we, as collective individuals need to do to move forward towards tomorrow.
This week, we have seen many defy the social distancing rules. The reasons are many, for this. Some have had to go into work, some wanted to enjoy the spring sun, some are yet to take this pandemic seriously. Our main defiance comes from not being conditioned, to live under such dire circumstances. The more people rebel, the more the more the government have promised to come down on us with their iron fist.
But what was the reason behind to what many critics have described, as a late lockdown? Was it because the government predicted the people’s attitude in not wanting it, or was it delayed because we simply didn’t have the tools to do so? Why was it so hard and what can be done to avoid a repeat of this current situation?
This war against Covid 19 is only the beginning. This is the first of a new threat that has emerged in our globe. This one doesn’t have a face, a country, a leader, or even an ideology – the enemy is microbes and the target is pretty much everyone. Albert Einstein famously quoted that he does not know what weapons will be used to fight WW3 but WW4 would be fought with stones and spears. Was this his metaphorical prediction? A stark reminder, the weapons we have built are futile in this war.
For decades, we have been presented with an endless list of threats, from Al Qaida, ISIS, Taliban, North Korea, Soviet Union, Gaddafi and Saddam. Nations, dictators and groups have been used as a bogey man to invade lands, build an arsenal of destructive weapons and train armies after armies to defend our social values and freedom of choice. Since 9/11, we watched questionable measures put in to defend the liberty of the West. Reminded, that this common enemy wants to end our way of life and our will to live free. The past decade, Europe had seen atrocious terror attacks, France, UK, Norway, to name a few. Each forcing the government to take actions and prepare themselves, and us the public to be vigilant for the next oncoming attack. We saw investments in terror tactics for the police forces, comtroveesial laws being passed, citizenship being stripped away from people and getting involved in more pointless foreign wars. Here in the UK we also saw the roll out of the Prevent programme in schools. Did it any of this help? We will never know. Maybe the weapons, the nukes, the intelligence and the secret spying has made the world and the UK a safer place? The truth is, we will never know what they have prevented from happening. But what is quite clear, is none of these threats or attacks had an impact on our way of life, the way Covid 19 has. In the world of terrorism, it is the Granddaddy of them all. It has achieved, what they told us, every terrorist in this world wanted to achieve – a lockdown of our lives and our liberty. You won’t hear any leaders stand in their podium and give uplifting speeches about how to go on about our daily lives and not to let the virus win. If anything they are telling us the opposite. We are all locked in our houses with nowhere to go. So, how do we adapt ourselves and how do we prepare for the next of its kind and shape the world after this?
The world changed after 9/11. From the ashes of the Twin Towers, a new world arose. Lessons were learnt and alliances were forged to move forward and this is what we have to do now.
There have been calls that the UK did not heed warning fast enough and a lockdown should have been enforced sooner. But would an earlier lockdown been justified a month ago, when cases of Covid 19 here in the UK was low? There was also a bigger question. Where we able to manage to run a country from sitting in our homes? Closing schools and offices was just not feasible. The truth is, UK, even as one of the top five developed nation, is sadly lacking the technological advancements or attitud needed in the modern world. This should be our focus and the area that requires huge level of investment, thoughts, determination and tenacity. In order to prepare for the next outbreak or something similar, whenever or where that is. Our plan of action should be how quickly we can adapt to the safety of our homes. Do what we are doing now, more efficiently with little disruptions and keep the country going.
We have all seen pictures uploaded on social media, from colleagues, friends and family, eager to share their makeshift offices, be it in the kitchen, their balcony, their bedrooms, the small space in their passage or the luxurious ones who have an office already kitted in their living room. It took a pandemic for us to utilise the technology we had and make us realise how productive we can be at home and do our work from the comfort of our own homes. Many of us who have never worked from home, or assumed we never could, realised the flexible nature of our jobs.
The same goes for schools, the day it was announced schools would close. There were teachers scratching their heads and parents too, how to carry on the education of children in this unforeseen circumstance. With no idea of when schools will re-open. Advice and package differed from school to school, local authority to local authority. Some opted to give packs, whilst other set up virtual schools from their own schools bases and others directed families, with links to You Tube and governmental websites for families to follow.
It was quite clear where the gaps where. In a world where we are being constantly reminded how technology is changing or ruining children, when it came down to when it was actually needed, there seemed to be very few coordination or a single point of access for children to go to, to follow a curriculum. Whilst many countries are way ahead and have well established virtual schools implemented, from when this virus was something dreamed up in sci-fiction movies.
We saw online retailers close temporarily or laying out special measures to deal with the huge surges of orders. But could this all be blamed on the large volume of us staying at home and ordering or is our technological understanding or infrastructure not advanced as we think it is. To give an example of how far we might behind in technology, I remember a distinctive call in 2004, yes 16 years ago with an AOL representative, ordering broadband for our home. UK had only started getting 10x the speed of normal dial up. The representative told me she was in Tokyo in 2003 and they already had 100x faster internet. Here we are in 2020 and the UK is just approaching this. So while there are supermarkets in LA where you don’t have cashiers, you just pick up your groceries and leave. There are still some supermarkets here in London that requires to you cue up without even a self serving check out.
Covid 19 has exposed our weakness and how much further we need to go in order to set up infrastructure that allow us to go remote, swiftly and efficiently without disruption, should the next super virus strike. History tells us after times of great crisis, we learn, heal and adapt to make changes. After WW2 we saw the creation of our great NHS, the birth of the UN and later the EU, with the goal of working closer together as a unit, to avoid another world war.
With this mindset we need to move forward, the changes we can do individually and collectively to shape the world, so we don’t find ourselves back in this same position. The UK along with the world will change after this, so we need to adapt.
We have a great amount of disposable technology, which we were not aware off, as we speak, many of us old and young have come across new video conferencing apps such as Zoom, this last few weeks and many other existing technological advances that has the potential to make our everyday life easier. Maybe it was our naivety around what is available to us, made it harder to build a world where going into isolation was so difficult and too late. If we invest in our technological infrastructure and science, we will create world swift, compact and ready to deal with future crisis.
Create alternative ways of schooling and education. This is the time to encourage and lobby our politicians to invest in our new defence system, not in millions but billions, not in weapons but our younger generation to study science, to tackle the new level of biological threats that lies ahead in the same breath as we have invested in wars and weapons. To find cures for new and current diseases such TB, Ebola, Measles and not just treatments. We need to lobby, shout and make the government see, the level of investment they have made in warfare, missiles and hardcore machinery needs to go and we need a U turn. Now is the time to invest in a new war against an enemy, that has taken away our liberty, like no other regimes or terrorist organisations. This is the real fight for democracy and our right for free will and freedom, a war that does not bleed of imperialism and globalisation. The memory of this pandemic will live on us for a very long time. Never before has our freedom been challenged the way it has now. We need to preserve this memory to make the right changes and save our earth.
We need technology and science to bring us together, invest money to study renewable energy, to stop relying on GM crops and animals. It needs to come from all areas, from school, education, society and government.
Things need to change, we can’t stay on the same path. A total overhaul of how we work, live and think is needed to fight this new global threat. We need investment in a war that no longer invades and kills but rather heals lands and people.