By Dave Mac

Can we fixate on a different gruesome statistic (for a moment of silence), instead of the usual daily diet of COVID death counts in the press? The tally of little babies under 5 bombed and starved to death in Yemen, which met with near total indifference from the global community over the last 5 years, now stands at 85000. That's not to suggest that unspeakable horror can be measured in numbers.

Now I don't know much about this nasty little civil war, I'm just wondering how much empathy we could expect from any of the surviving mothers for our current crisis? What empathy too from the other millions of human beings who, through our routine indifference, are condemned to a life without hope in other war zones, and in overcrowded, impoverished, undernourished, unpoliced and insanitary conditions all across the world? How lucky are we. This is the awful everyday reality for uncounted numbers of souls on earth, while our leaders control and monopolize the power and resources that could make a difference, but lack any clear mandate from us to act.

Putting thoughts of 'empathy' aside (there would be more than we deserve), is it possible for the world's left-behinds to actually comprehend the particular global media shit storm that's blighting us on a daily basis right now? For them, near daily exposure to death up-close and personal, is a routine part of normal life. So what is this thing that we are compulsively obsessing over, and why are we so insensitive to their plight? I don't know for sure why I feel such a strong need to post this. Maybe my close-call accident makes it easier for me to relate to this question, maybe it’s just that the double standard is so shockingly stark. I can't speak for the bereaved of course, but let me try anyway to imagine their perspective on this...

"As a sub-species, first-world-humanity, is exhibiting all the classic symptoms of a (possibly short term) psychosis during this crisis, but its underlying mental condition has always been one of a deep set and persistent mass insanity. They instinctively choose the delusion of "self" and "other'' and use it to blinker themselves against the sight of distant suffering. By this trick of auto deception, they can get on with their cosy lives, freed from the burden of all-consuming guilt. They pretend that the accident of birth that placed them amongst the "haves", with all their social stability and unbridled opportunity, somehow entitles them to pull up the drawbridge and to exclude the "have nots", blaming our misfortunes on assumed flaws like indolence and corruption, or anything that works for them. True we are plagued with disadvantages, but what they know about indolence, they certainly wrote themselves. They prefer to perpetuate the historical injustices that still shower them with wealth and privileges, rather than working to redress the unjust inequality of opportunities that we constantly suffer from. They pretend that today's mass migrations are somehow a different phenomenon from the urbanization that has attended their own industrialization since the day it started, just because today's journeys cross some arbitrary lines that they recently drew on a map. The funny thing is that they simply don't see that a better place for everyone, offers the ultimate best possible future for them too. They think in zero-sum games, and whatever little obstacle life places in front of them they exaggerate out of all proportion, and project the blame for it on us. The racial inferiority argument is currently out of fashion, but it has never gone entirely away. In polite circles it is usually relegated to "the lie that dares not speak its name", and we remain the universal bogeyman, filling a role needed for their cohesion as a distinct elite group. We are still the 'them' that defines their 'us'. But in reality we all share something more primal than our differences. We too seek, and fully deserve, a chance at happiness for ourselves and families".

My earnest hope is that a positive take-away from today's collective corona threat, might be to raise the blindfold a little and cause more people to adopt a more realistic assessment of how the dice of life are actually loaded. This might help to encourage a more credible and coordinated effort to respond to ALL of the collective threats and suffering that the world faces in future, not just the one we are facing today.

And what if we don’t? Well, there is no such thing as 'distant suffering' in a global village, and this little crisis is just the opener. No way is it the last of it. When this one is behind us, let’s make sure our national leaders don't forget that we are all in this together, with just one planet, and realize that it will still need to be saved for everybody who lives on it.

The usual suspects are already lining up their pre-emptive counter threats - seeding and talking up fears for 'the economy', as if to insist that we are all in thrall to the market, rather than the market being there to serve our needs. This time round we can't afford to let them get away with that. Hitting the weakest and the poorest and the most vulnerable, both domestically and abroad, just to restore Wall Street to business-as-usual, would be like some horror 'B' movie rerun of the last decade. We mustn't sleepwalk into letting that become a political option. From this side of the event, I think we can all see clearly - from the pressing health imperative we now face - that the economy is just a side show (all except for Donald of course, but his unerring instinct to pick the wrong answer just confirms it). Let's not forget this insight when we are looking back at these events.

The real life-and-death issue here is getting our politicians across the world to attend to the correct agenda. We need them to put the planet to rights, instead of perpetuating the current insanity, and standing in the way of ever more desperate social, population and climate needs.