This year keeps getting stranger and stranger no thanks to COVID-19. Just when we thought the worst was over and the possibility of returning to a semblance of normality began to take shape, wham! Here we are, with several cities in Germany being declared danger zones, Berlin included. The number of positive cases of COVID-19 has reached alarming rates in spite of all the precautions, and the authorities are worried, as they should be. There is no handbook for this pandemic, and as we have seen in the past months, there is no guarantee that one particular strategy will work regardless of how developed or underdeveloped the country may be. I had high hopes for Germany and Chancellor Merkel’s government to manage the situation in a more dignified and controlled manner, but as a government, there is only so much you can do and the rest is really up to the citizens and their political and civil maturity. We, the collective we, are at a loss, and the shit has hit the fan.
Is Germany and the rest of Europe headed for a collective lockdown? No single leader of any of the EU member states would dare suggest that at the moment, but individually, things are headed that way, with Spain and France grappling with regional lockdowns for the second time around. The UK hasn’t managed to contain the situation to manageable levels, so the first and second wave are overlapping and the economy and breakdown of services will reflect this in the coming weeks. Then there is Germany, who thought the worst was over towards the end of June, with the masses of unrestrained holiday-seekers heading off to the beaches or mountains, returning just in time for the beginning of the new school year. Boom! Second wave in the major cities of Germany, with Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne and Bremen being declared as COVID-19 hotspots two days ago, no thanks to the super spreader events and all the travellers.
The frustration is riding at an all-time high, both in the public and private sector, in schools, universities and private homes. What is too much control or precaution? When do you declare a rule or action as excessive? There is no answer. There is no solution either. We are, unfortunately, all flying blind on this one, with flying being a metaphor at the moment, since most airlines are feeling the massive cutbacks in jobs, income, and general survival rates.
The desire to break out, scream and become rebels with a cause is also at a record high. After months of movement and freedom being curtailed, there was an alarming escalation of anti-COVID-19 events, all trying to debunk the existence of the disease. Where did that get us? Even further down the rabbit hole, that’s where.
It is World Mental Health Day today, and if there was ever a year when mental health was affected at such disastrous world levels, it has to be 2020. The reported incidents of abuse, depression and anxiety that took place behind closed doors in the last seven months has the healthcare sector concerned. We all reached our tipping point at one stage or another during these turbulent times, and with limited ways to cope with the confinement, it is no surprise that rebellion broke out as a second pandemic running parallel to COVID-19.
At the end of the day, caution, precaution, common sense, proper hygiene and social distancing are the tools that will get us through this until we find a proper solution and vaccination. Until then, it is imperative that we also hold on to the values that preserve our mental stability: kindness, compassion, solidarity, empathy, and understanding. Respect the fences and don’t try to fight them or climb over them. They are not there to aggravate, but to protect and this is something we all need to accept. It isn’t just about standing out and proving you can stand alone anymore, but it is being sensitive to the needs and limitations of others, of protecting one another.