Nevertheless, I'm one of those persons that believe everything happens for a reason. There is, after all, always some kind of cause behind every occurrence, even if you don't quite like the reason or even if I don't know what that reason is. I'm also a firm believer that life is filled with lessons worth learning, and if you're going to go through something your might as well grow. So, naturally, I set out to find a lesson I could learn even in the hellfire and damnation 2020 has seemed to be collectively wreaking on the world, and I'm so generous I'd like to share them with you.
It's kind to extend your circle of concern in moments of panic or disaster to members of your family, to your friends and family friends, but what about persons less advantaged than you and yours? What about the homeless, what about persons that are sick, disabled or immunocompromised and at risk?
2. Xenophobia is literally everywhere
Unfortunately, xenophobia is alive and well and only a disaster or skirmish away. And so is its infamous cousin racism.
3. None of us are untouchable
Life comes at you fast when a superstar and his teen daughter die in a tragic accident. It's also a major reality check to tune into the news to see faces of people your age who are missing or dead or have had a harrowing near miss experience. You also realise that none of us are untouchable when internationally famed basketball and football stars, as well as actors test positive for a virus that has been declared a global pandemic.
So, cliched as it is, life is short; do as those corny picture frames and Facebook captions say and live, laugh and love. End each day with as few regrets as possible and when you're sorry say you're sorry. Be open and honest with those you love and enjoy the things you love while you can.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
Since what goes around comes around, and every dog has its day, it is very important that we find it within our hearts to care for each other even when we are oceans away. After all, today for me and tomorrow for you. If we stop and think, many of us will find ourselves guilty of not having done enough or having cared enough when disaster struck elsewhere and for other people, just like Martin Niemöller. Be a little less self-involved, or be self-involved enough to realise that our lives are irrevocably linked and as a result of that, what happens to one of us will certainly affect almost all of us sooner or later.
5. Misinformation has wings
False and potentially information has probably, by now, made its rounds around the world and around the nation, and made its way on to your screens and into your ears. We all have to do our part to stop misinformation in its tracks and to re-educate ourselves and others - lives and livelihoods could depend on it.
6. This could've been an email
7. Prevention is better than cure / We have enough nine day wonders / If you have nothing nice to say seriously consider shutting up / This isn't the time for a blame game
The nation has been rocked by the disappearance of twenty-two year old, visually impaired Jasmine Deen. We've heard impassioned pleas from her doting father for her to be returned to him safely, and we've seen her fellow university students hand out flyers asking whether we've seen her.
But we've also heard a person or two telling us - and anyone who will listen - a thing or two about what Jasmine's dear old dad should've done to ensure this didn't happen. Yup. Seriously. It's about time we all learn that if we have nothing nice or helpful to say it's as good a time as any to keep quiet. Our 'expert' opinions and play-by-plays after the fact are no consolation and no help, making them entirely unnecessary.
It's one thing to lovingly advise or admonish everyone's heightened awareness of possible dangers, and it's something else entirely to add to a distraught man's sorrows by vilifying him.
The same goes for pointing fingers at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) in this matter, and the Opposition listing all the ways it believes the Government didn't do enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 locally. Finger pointers and the Opposition may have a point but is now really the best time for blame games and passing the buck?
Also, without resorting to knee jerk responses, what exactly are we doing to ensure that an instance like this doesn't become yet another famous Jamaican nine day wonder, only to happen again some time later? Have transportation systems been put to right or put in place for disabled commuting students at schools? Have all tertiary institutions locally done their checks and balances so that, so far as possible, no disabled commuting student will have their classes scheduled beyond a certain time of day or evening? Are we really doing all we can to ensure this doesn't happen again, even though it unfortunately has already happened?
School's out for now, but let's learn the lessons anyway, Jamaica.