First up, Happy New Year, 2021!
The fact that you’re reading this article indicates you’ve survived and managed to cross over the gravelike precipice of 2020 which none of us alive today will forget for many decades to come. It caught the world – its Heads of Government, national leaders, health authorities, economic priests, policy makers, aviation industry and the entire human race – almost by complete surprise. It caught us off guard and fell on us like a ton of bricks. We lost millions and billions through bankrupt businesses – the lifeblood of any economy. Stress levels shot through our individual roofs. And we’re still reeling from the nightmare.
Blame it all on Covid-19?
The Covid Pandemic has killed millions and hospitalised thousands more, with numbers still escalating by the day. In the United States, the President-elect (Joe Biden) has already issued a stark warning against Covid on Tuesday 22nd December that the ‘Darkest Days Are Ahead Of Us, not behind us’. Five days later, Sunday 27th Dec Trump’s former top medical expert Dr Anthony Fauci fully endorsed and underscored Biden’s warning. We are effectively stuck between a mountainous rock and a desert-like hard place.
In many respects, when America sneezes, the whole world catches a cold – an expression originally coined by Austrian politician Klemens von Metternich with reference to Europe but later amended by Economists and Politicians ‘to reflect America’s dominant role in global economics since the start of the 20th century.’
But that’s not the full truth! We know it is not, but nobody has the courage to and no one dares talk about it. Why? Because we are almost all guilty. We’re all involved. We are culprits. We’ve found an easy scapegoat in Covid to cast all the blame, but our daily lives are full of these burdensome termites that eat the human tree from the inside. The tree may appear green from the outside, but inside it’s all rotten, ready to fall.
Dreadful termites: Covid-like Burdens
Blame Covid-19 however much you like. Condemn it as much as you wish for the fall of our national and global economies (closed hotels/resorts, businesses, lost jobs, siezed properties and assets, broken homes). Publicise and warn the world against it, design and mass-distribute vaccines to combat it. Keep Covid out, spend billions to keep us safe from it and its deadlier new variant. Close our borders under an extended SOE till 31st July 2021.
But that’s not the full truth! That still scratches the surface of the tip of the colossal ice-berg beneath. Fact is, we carry around with us gigantic ‘Burdens’ far deadlier, scarier, deeply threatening and balefully more ominous, darker and more dreadful than Covid. How about we say that Covid is just a large smokescreen compared to what actually underly the blunt realities of our daily lives today – though we say we’re ‘covid-free’? To add, are we really covid-free? Are we?
Alcohol. How do you like the idea of finding ‘happiness in a bottle’? What’s good about alcohol?
Think about the young men up north who chose to consume methylated spirits over the X-mas break and ended up losing their eyesite? How about the accidents that have costed lives throughout 2020’s dreadful journey.
Smoking. How about those once-clean lungs which you’ve oversmoked beyond normal copra. How do you like the idea of walking around with lungs that resemble or perhaps far outcolour the black bitumen that is sprayed on pavement to create tarsealed roads for dirty buses, 40ft lorry wheels and muddy rivers to travel through?
Kava. How about that tranquilizing muddy river that doesn’t resemble pure plain water in any form, smell, taste or life? You say peace and you utilise it to facilitate ‘wise talk’ that fizzles out and evaporates with the arrival of each new day? What kind of ‘wisdom’ is this? Or is it culture? Culture does not take kava till mid-night!
NCDs. The world has devised words, possibly to ‘respect’ and be ‘sensitive’ to victims of NCDs. So we’ve shifted from words like ‘handicapped’ to ‘special needs’. But when will we get back to our senses and uphold and respect health principles that keep us safe from NCDs? When will our medical experts and church leaders sound the warning from the mountain top without fear or favour? Or are they guilty too?
Moral decay. The world around us has gone from bad to worse to disasterous on this front. It has affected all our lives. Advancements in modernisation, technology, and media freedom have heightened our vulnerabillity and susceptibility to crises far worse, dreadful and self-destructive than Covid.
Put together, these five issues (and many others you know yourself) are like termites that keep on parasiting on our lives even while we claim to be ‘covid-free’. We love our excuses and scapegoats, and and we’ll defend them to hell and back at any cost. Even if it costs us an arm and a leg, that doesn’t matter and we don’t care. Normally that’s how we reason things out when it comes to pet sins. It doesn’t matter. Unfortunately that’s us. That’s how thousands have lived their lives in 2020. And that’s not all. They’re fully prepared to carry these mighty heavy burdens with them across the abyss of 2020 into what should be a brand New Year.
Declare your Freedom
Your New Year’s Resolution(s) is/are none of anyone’s business. But as a matter of general principle, maybe its high time to declare your freedom from any or all the burdens and self-destructive termites listed above. You can be free. We need to make some hard choices. Why does it matter? Because we’ve stepped into a brand New Year. Keeping the pandemic or its latest variant away from our borders doesn’t necessarily keep us safe. We already have a number of Covids inhouse that need to be cleaned out of our lives. This is the best time to do it when psychologically and mentally our minds are best prepared for ‘change’ and some worthwhile resolutions.
Howard Aru is current CEO of the Vanuatu Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (VFIPA) and former Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, and the Ministry of Health.