stay safe

Stay Safe

In this ‘stay safe’ there is something of our ‘island mentality’, there is something of our closure which in fact came out lashing in many circumstances over these past weeks.

2 months or so into the pandemic, locally we are at peace that these few molecules haven’t won us over. The health authorities acted wisely, and we stayed safe, so we got the results needed; curve flattened and disaster avoided. All this is true and yet since the beginning of the I’ve been uncomfortable with the expression ‘Stay Safe’! Obviously I’m not criticising the health maxim.

In this ‘stay safe’ there is something of our ‘island mentality’, there is something of our closure which in fact came out lashing in many circumstances over these past weeks. The classic one was the way most of us reacted in front of the floating misery in the Mediterranean. We were strong and safe enough to fight the virus amongst ½ a million people, but not to save 50 people from death or torture back from where they left.

The effects of ‘staying safe’

Yet this ‘stay safe’ attitude is ingrained in even more subtle ways as we stay home and for our own selves. To mention just a couple: We know that we are enjoying cleaner air, less traffic and so less deaths from environmental degradation (stronger killer than -19). Yet it’s hard to us to speak up so we don’t go back to that ‘normal’, when we’re at it. It might not be safe for me to speak up for fear to lose my job, or the need to try alternative, more demanding means of transport. Or I might be lashed at if they realise I have the finger in the pie of one of the many projects creating ghettos (with all associated problems), from decent houses.

We all know that schools are closed almost from when the hit our shores and yet no one has asked who is replacing the teacher, support teachers, supervisors, admin staff, health professionals, other staff at school. We all know that in many households we don’t have the resources for our kids to really stay safe. Domestic violence has escalated, though no research has been published I’m sure that addiction and unhealthy lifestyles have also flourished amongst our kids, as our technology is actually replacing the above. And yet we’d rather not speak because it might effect further the economy. As if these issues won’t. The above two are just examples which can be applied to other sectors.

There is a certain contrast between this Easter season and what we are living these days. The obvious one is that there is a lot to be worry about and less to be joyful for. Yet the celebration is one of hope and light, it is the ‘do not be afraid’, it is the opening of the doors happening at Pentecost. Social distancing is not the only safety we should address. We need to address more subtle ways which are in fact not keeping us safe.

And yet I would say we are at this point even thanks to the people who did not ‘Stay safe’. All our frontliners and also all those still going out to work are the obvious heroes. Because they chose to leave their homes, their ‘lack of safety’ and thanks to them we are saved. But there are others who did not stay safe. Thanks to people who have fought incessantly for 2 ½ years (including but not only Moviment Graffiti), we have a new petrol station policy which will keep us safe of further environmental degradation, and a healthier lifestyle, which now we are all applauding.

There is much more to safety than staying behind our closed doors, there is the safety which requires us to ‘take up the challenge’:

“We can the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make the difference”

Nelson Mandela
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