Have Hope

Guided by personal ethics of ‘do more good’, Yuet Mee Ho-Nambiar has a long involvement with sustainability and community building activities.  Belief in the oneness of humanity and the nobility of man underpins her interest in matters relating to unity and social cohesion of communities, while her background in a finance-related profession focuses her interest to the area of inclusive economics and development.  

We all have a shared responsibility in this health crisis

By Yuet Mee Ho-Nambiar

Early last year, humanity woke up to a furious storm.  We watched with terrifying disbelief the waves of suffering and sorrow which broke over one country after another, weakening different nations at different moments in different ways.  Deaths were counted tracking the fate of the world.  At each dawn, many feared the agonies to be endured before the set of sun.  When no other course of action seemed possible, many turned to their Creator. 

18 March 2020 is etched in the memory of Malaysians as the date when our 1st full lockdown commenced.  We all stayed at home, with many trying to work from home.  The lives and livelihoods of every Malaysian were affected – schools were closed, business shuttered, Zoom quickly became part of our vocabulary, elders temporarily distanced, for some, permanent separations.  Some became disoriented and unfamiliar and adrift, locked down and lonely.  Some responded with disbelief and denial, others in acceptance and compliance.  Many felt empty and melancholy and isolated, even traumatized.  Fortunately, in true Malaysian style, a sense of solidarity emerged to succor and to support others with mutual aids, with bonds of love with solace and solidarity.

As sharp restrictions do work to break the chain of infections, we managed to flatten the infection curve somewhat with the 1st lockdown.  But fatigue and complacency soon set in and so the infections really did not go away.  Our struggle with the health pandemic was certainly less violent than a war but more protracted than a natural disaster.

440 days on, it has yet to abate, in fact, it has gained strength. Our number of reported cases of Covid 19 infections does not seem to peak and stubbornly refuses to plateau, every day the numbers surpassing the previous. 

And so once again we find ourselves at the 2nd full lockdown on 1 June 2021. Sadly, the lockdowns, being a blunt instrument, are economically painful.  For many businesses and employers, work from home is the inconvenient but manageable solution.  For many others, life comes to a standstill – the hawkers, the daily wage workers, the immigrants.  Careful government intervention is absolutely essential to ensure there are sufficient safety nets for these marginalized communities. 

So the big question is this:  Will this lockdown work to flatten the curve?  Will this be the last full lockdown for this country?

While the consequences of this lockdown we cannot yet estimate with any certainty at this stage, I am hopeful that the outcome will be better this time as, for one, we are now better equipped with   vaccinations being rolled out.  Also, we now know more about the virus and how it spreads and are able to take better precautionary measures.

But crucially too, each of us need to realise we all have a shared responsibility in this health crisis.  We have to learn to cooperate and to recognise that the action of one affects others, that to combat this, all must be strong, that our collective strength is dependent on our unity of vision and action.  Because it is us, the individuals, whatever our role or place in society, who comply with the government SOPs or ignore them. As individuals, we make choices to embrace cooperative attitudes and patterns of action (of consistent and proper mask-wearing, stringent practice physically distancing, staying at home) or continue patterns of life as before.  We must realise that none of our decisions are without consequence. 

History tells us humanity has the fortitude and determination to see the journey through, no matter how difficult matters are at present, however close to the limits of endurance we have been brought, however long and arduous the road that must be travelled.  We will ultimately pass through this ordeal and will emerge on the other side with stamina and staunch spirits, drawing from stores of hope, faith, and magnanimity, putting the needs of others before our own to nourish others, to work for our collective betterment.