The inability to speak
I'm pretty sure this is not just me, but this year (2020) has make me lose my voice. And I don't mean that in a physical sense, so far (knocking on wood as I write this) the virus has spared me and my family, but in the sense that my brain is on constant overload during this multi-tier crisis but I haven't been able very well to put it into words. On twitter, I manage to occasionally come up with some witty, sarcastic comment and that often helps to temporarily relieve the pressure, but every time I try to put my (also very much multi-tiered) thoughts into writing, I give up after a couple of sentences.
Let me at least (for future me looking at this text in 10 years – because I don't think young people in 2030 will believe our stories) describe the status quo as I see it – I'll try to refrain from the instinct to analyse reasons or motivations.
As I write this, my home country is in a terrible state. Every day, roughly 500-600 people die from (or, as some people are not getting tired to point out: with) Covid-19. These are mostly, but not exclusively old people which we failed to protect. Our country is supposed to be in somewhat of a lockdown, but as lockdowns go, this is a pretty shitty one – It's very close to christmas celebrations, so people do lots of shopping (and many shops that are supposed to be closed offer “click and collect”). Also, companies are “urged” to allow working from home (what we call, slightly irritatingly to UK people, “home office”) or let people go home early for the xmas break but given that it is not enforced in any way and how shitty a lot of companies treat their employees in the first place I'm pretty sure that there are large pockets of the work force that are forced (that's why it's called work force, right?) to go to the office like normal (with the usual regulations of distancing and mask wearing applied...again something that's not enforced nor controlled in any way).
Schools, on the other hand, now clearly known for their hand in the spreading of the virus to and from families, were not even fully closed (well, it's holidays now) and I'm afraid they will open right away, regardless of our viral incidence on the 10th of January when this lockdown is supposed to end.
Schools are a complex subject. Closing schools outright can be dangerous with rising levels of in-family violence and dramatically rising inequality in terms of chances to learn, as families (or single parents) in precarious situations hardly have any chance to earn a living and help their children learn (or afford the technical needs allow their kids to follow online learning courses) – But the fact is that politics here in germany have systematically downplayed the risk of in-school infections even go so far to fake study results to prove their point, all to prevent a more complex discussion on how we can reduce on-premise studying to lower the infection risks and also how to make all of this socially just and less stressful for parents that are stretched thin in the best of times.
All this happening while the federal government spent enormous amounts of money on “rescuing” the (of course very battered) airline industry (which then went on to cut thousands of jobs anyway) and, probably the worst investment of the last few years, surprisingly found 10 Billion EUR to further subsidise our car industry – An industry that has not made headlines recently with their top-tier electric car technology as one would expect given the enormous challenges of mobility in a carbon neutral future but instead with technical measures to cheat emission tests so that they can continue to sell bigger and bigger cars that burn fuel like there is no tomorrow (And in the process ensuring there won't be one to speak of).
At the same time, our hospitals fill up and health care workers who got rounds of applause every evening at 9pm during all of April, now get even longer work days and no monetary compensation to speak of. I wouldn't be super surprised we'll get a mass exodus from the health care sector (which has already massive problems to find enough qualified personnel) after this crisis is over – It would be understandable and would maybe, maybe, if we all help, lead to much needed change. I said it before and I'll say it again, the mere fact that we thought (and still think) that health care can be organised around capitalist principles and should be able to cut profits is completely indefensible and needs to be reversed as soon as possible.
And under this clusterfuck, that is amplified by the complexities of germany's federal system with each state being run by a different kind of terrible right now (with several head of states being tangled up in a directional battle and search-for-successor-to-larger-than-life chancellor Merkel), there's the climate crisis looming that for some reason doesn't seem to be super impressed by a virus that completely threw off humanity for, as it seems to be more realistic now, several years. In my eyes the difficulties modern day lobbyist entangled representative democracy seem to have to deal with the crisis at hand all over the world (with some very few exceptions) is, in all it's glory, quite comparable of the inability to deal with the looming climate crisis. Again, I'll refrain from analysis here, but it seems to be quite clear to me that we'll need to take a deep reflection on what went wrong in 2020 to understand how we might be able to deal with the climate crisis.
Happy holidays, everyone.