Let me start off with the “When it’s not about you, it’s not about you”-disclaimer. This disclaimer applies to all my blog posts, but considering the topic and the tone in which I am discussing it (spoiler: annoyed. Extremely annoyed), I figured it would be good to make it explicit. Here we go:
Seldom in my life have I felt so chronically annoyed at life as in the last couple of months. Every time I said to myself: “This is it, it is impossible for me to get more annoyed than I am now”, I read some news that made me want to chop the nearest object to me down the middle with a huge axe. Even if from 14 March on I had listened to nothing but Africa by Toto on repeat, I would not have been as annoyed as I am now.
Why exactly am I so annoyed, you ask? Well…
- The way the Covid19 pandemic was completely underestimated at the beginning;
- The, as soon as was established that this Covid thing was An Issue, constant and extremely detailed, panic-y news streams;
- The anti-Covid measures as instated by the Dutch government, some of which SO confusing that people went: “Yeah, whatever, never mind those rules”;
- The fact that people went: “Yeah, whatever, never mind those rules”;
- The Dutch government going back and forth on the matter of face masks: “No face mask!”, “Wear a face mask!”, “Don’t wear a face mask!”, “Do wear a face mask!”;
- The fact that the Dutch media think it’s perfectly normal to give a platform to a “discussion” about if we shouldn’t just let people that are fat, chronically ill, handicapped, old or a combination of any of those just die so the “healthy ones” can continue their lives as before.
Yes, you’re reading that correctly: a “discussion”, led by some columnist or other who apparently didn’t get enough attention that week, about who can be “culled”. At a time where people who are more at risk AND WHO GENERALLY SPEAKING ARE WELL AWARE OF THAT FACT are living in terror, some person or other decides that this is the perfect moment to act like a populist amateur eugenicist, and the Dutch press is like “Cool topic! Let’s give this person a lot of time and attention!”
Don’t get me wrong: I am 100% in favour of euthanasia, to the point of being of the opinion that if somebody is done with life, they should just be able to get it. I don’t care if it’s because they are out of treatment options, or just because they feel that their life is complete, people should at any point in their life be able to decide about themselves when it comes to life and/or death. However, I have a HUGE problem with people “suggesting” that other people, who happen to be fat, chronically ill, handicapped and/or old, but who are just fine living their lives, should just, you know, die already, because “young and healthy people” (not getting into that one) don’t feel like adapting their lives a bit for a year or so;
- The fact that this “discussion” isn’t even the most bizarre thing the Dutch media are giving a platform to. I’m thinking of the “Covid is a conspiracy!” tin foil hat wearing folk;
- The fact that people that I thought were ok, have turned into one of these “Covid is a conspiracy!” tin foil hat wearing folk #disappointing;
- The whining about the wearing of face masks and how impossible it is to wear them, because they are “So awfully uncomfortable”. Do you want to know what is actually awfully uncomfortable? Having a fucking breathing tube stuck down your throat in the Intensive Care Unit.
And no, you’re not being “gagged”, not literally and unfortunately also not figuratively, because if it was, a lot less of the useless crap above would have gotten into the world.
I honestly did not have a high opinion of humanity in general (and sometimes also in particular), but even I am shocked to see the general lack of logic and critical thinking skills in people. But what shocked me most is the often total lack of empathy and complete lack of willingness to do something for somebody else. I mean, I understand that you might not want to do something to help somebody else if it’s detrimental to you. But refusing to adhere to rules that honestly aren’t even that much of a hassle to adhere to, but could help out others tremendously? Damn. Like I told TBK aka my mom: “And I thought that I had a shitty personality!”
I do understand people complaining about their current lives though, because life is kinda shit at the moment. It’s boring and stressful, days feel like weeks and months feel like days, unemployment and money worries take their toll, relationships are crumbling because people either never see each other or see each other all the time, you could get terribly ill at any moment and even die, and most of all: nobody has any clue of how long this is all going to take. This type of insecurity is killing.
Do you now have an idea how FUCKING SHIT it is to live your life this way for weeks, months, years and sometimes even forever? Because strangely enough, we as a society think it’s completely normal that there’s large groups of people for whom this is their daily lived reality. I do understand that if you’re healthy, you don’t consider what it can be like to be chronically ill and/or handicapped. That you have no clue whatsoever what the impact of chronic illness and/or a handicap can be on somebody’s life, and what that impact looks like in daily life.
But I do think that the government has a job here to inform people about these facts, and – more importantly – make sure that laws are instated to make sure that people with chronic illnesses and/or handicaps have a better quality of life when it comes to living, studies and/or jobs.
Because that is what pisses me off the most about this whole Covid-situation: for YEARS chronically ill and/or handicapped people have explained what their daily lived reality is like, what hinders them, what could be done to make life better for them. Nothing was ever possible. To work from home: no, can’t do that. To study remotely: impossible. To have the government start a campaign to get people to stop this toxic “I don’t call in sick unless I have a 40°C [104° Fahrenheit] fever”-bullshit, where people don’t take into account all the co-workers, class mates and/or complete strangers – some of whom might be immunocompromised – on public transport that they infect: nope.“Oh come on, everybody has a cough once in a while, don’t exaggerate!” Or as my 35-year old (as in: he should have known better) class mate once incredulously smoke-wafted my way: “But… you can’t die from pneumonia?” This after I told him that, yes, I had been absent, and yes, didn’t look too well, because I had nearly died of pneumonia in the weeks before. I think you got the picture by now.
Then Covid19 happened, and previously healthy people turned out to also be at risk to be struck by the virus. And all of a sudden everything was possible: work from home, study remotely, not coughing each other in the face. Even the very Dutch custom of body slamming into each other to get onto a train first stopped. I thought I’d never see the day.
And while I am of course happy that these adjustments could be made so quickly, I am also terribly, terribly angry. Because the fact that these adjustments have been made, and have been made so quickly, shows that it was never a case of “We can’t”. “We” just didn’t want to. The government and others that decide these matters just didn’t feel like it, it wasn’t a priority, it was too much of a hassle, it wasn’t profitable.
This situation clearly shows that as a society, we have a very, very long way to go when it comes to the acceptance, let alone emancipation of chronically ill and/or handicapped people. There’s still this sentiment of “Why should we want to accommodate you, you’re being a hassle, why can’t you be healthy just like anybody else?”, mixed with a bit of “You should be thankful to this society that we don’t just let you die, you burden on humanity, you”.
With those sentiments comes the concept of “beggars can’t be choosers”, that normalises the idea that as a chronically ill and/or handicapped person, you have less of a right to an enjoyable life. You should content yourself with whatever society is willing to “give”, and you are not supposed to have any ambitions regarding studies and/or (paid) work, let alone expect to be accommodated in the slightest when trying – against all odds – to achieve these ambitions.
There’s been a lot of talk about “solidarity” these days, but I still haven’t felt it. Sure, we’re all in this together to a certain extend right now. But as soon as the Covid19 pandemic is over, everything will go back to how it used to be. Everybody will immediately forget how awful this period was and return to their jobs and/or studies, and to sniffing and coughing everywhere again, because “It’s not Covid 19, so who cares?” The chronically ill and/or handicapped will see the changes that now benefit them be turned back to “normal”, because fuck them, right? I of course hope that I’m wrong, and that this pandemic will forever change the way we live, but I’m quite pessimistic about it to be honest. I hope to be proved wrong though.1