The malady that faces the First World today is not the Corona virus: it is Society itself.
In a UK hospital a few days since a thirteen-year-old boy lay dying. His parents were not permitted to be near him at the end. He died alone.
A terrified child, almost certainly aware of what course events would take, died alone.
At the same time, on station platforms throughout the overcrowded South-East, commuters were packing into trains without a breath of space between them. At the same time, planes from America and Europe (including Italy and Spain) were landing at UK airports, disgorging passengers to go where they wished without regard. At the same time, workers on construction sites were doing their non-essential work as usual, in the name – as I understand it – of ‘keeping the economy going’.
The UK does not have anything like enough respirators to treat the anticipated surge in COVID-19 over the next few weeks, even though the National Health Service warned four years ago that if there was an outbreak of this kind they would be short of essential equipment. The equipment was thought too expensive. Like the jeeps the British Army was forced to use despite their vulnerability in Afghanistan, but were too expensive to replace. Even now, in the throes of a pandemic, I am prepared to bet the reason UK has insufficient testing kits for the virus has something to do with price. Somebody is skimping.
For years, the system of privilege in UK has protected itself with ‘rules’ intended to stifle a public voice. It can afford to ignore almost everybody, including the press it has not yet succeeded in buying. The moment the heir to the throne coughs he is isolated, cossetted and respirated. Being seventy-one seems to have been no obstacle for him, he was better in a few days, yet in the country half of those diagnosed in his age group are dying.
No-one can blame those people on the station platform. If their bosses insist they go to work they must go because every spare penny has been bled from them by the system and they face homelessness or worse if they dissent. What is missing is the man from the Treasury at the station entrance ready to hand out subsistence money to anyone who agrees to turn around and go home. Everyone should blame the inhuman cypher who prevented those parents from comforting their child. Everyone should blame the government that, in defiance of all good sense, does not close the airports.
It is time and past time for the financial plutocracy to pause, and show genuine sympathy for the common man. It is time someone actually, really, genuinely cared. Because, if you are reading, we built your castles, and one day, if you are not very careful, we will tear them down.