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There really is no greater an emotive topic than death and the pain and suffering one’s passing inflicts on those left behind. (OK, romance heartbreak might come close at the actual moment of hurt but this generally diminishes with time.)

We never really come to terms with the loss of a loved one, we just learn to adapt to the “new normal” it creates. As with most things, the passing years make it more bearable.

Of course, some deaths are more “acceptable” than others. The death of a person who’s lived a long life and feels ready to “move on” is a little easier to deal with and understand than that of someone in his/her prime or, worse still, a youth who is only really starting out in life.

A view of a plush north Bogotá housing estate with a poorer neighbourhood in the background.

Downwardly mobile: Are people really willing to downscale for the good of humankind?

From a personal perspective, my paternal grandmother breathing her last when she was well into her 90s is a case of the former. My eldest sister’s passing at the age of 47, leaving behind three young sons, is very much in the latter category.

Your number’s up
Right now, as always, millions of people across the world are dealing with death. For some, as we are all well aware, this has been brought about by coronavirus, Covid-19, a new virus that we’re still learning about and still unsure as to how deadly it is for society as a whole.

A more positive view on the figures and profiles of the majority of those who have succumbed to it thus far leads one to assume that it’s not particularly lethal for large swathes of the population.

This, I stress, is not to belittle the suffering of those who are dealing with it.

‘Will the comfortable classes opt for more modest lives, start some serious downscaling to reduce their overall consumption?’

Informing somebody who has just lost a family member or friend to complications arising from Covid-19 that, all things considered, it’s not too deadly for humankind as a whole is scant consolation. It’s like telling people burying plane-crash victims that air travel is statistically the safest way to commute. ‘Great, thanks.’

Nonetheless, in these highly emotive and uncertain times where many people are genuinely filled with fear, keeping a little bit of perspective on things is, I believe, a worthwhile exercise.

Just because one talks about numbers and stats it doesn’t naturally follow that one is heartless, that one doesn’t care about the people who have been tragically affected by Covid-19.

Deadly decisions
Coronavirus is, in any case, and understandably so because of its novelty, dominating the public discourse.

Within that, there has been some discussion, which I touched on previously, about the unintended consequences of the measures countries around the world have introduced in a bid to control the spread of the virus.

There’s the issue of the elderly and vulnerable locked up in their houses and frightened to step outside in the current environment. How many are shunning seeking regular check-ups, potentially allowing other deadly diseases and illnesses develop that otherwise might have been nipped in the bud?

There’s also the risk that outwardly healthy folk, who in normal times might have sought medical attention for something they think is minor yet is actually malignant, are not being seen to.

On the somewhat positive side, lives are being saved from the non-occurrence of fatal accidents that would have happened in “ordinary” times.

Considering the more indiscriminate nature of such deaths compared to coronavirus-related ones, an upshot of this, we can assume, will be the human population maintaining a greater number of those of child-bearing age than would normally have been the case. That, of course, might end up being more of a hindrance than a help to our collective future in the mid-to-long-term.

Linked to this, as we’re emitting less carbon into the atmosphere during this crisis, the resultant better air quality should, quite literally, give more breathing space to live for those with respiratory morbidity.

A long way down
With all the talk of the new modus operandi to come, brought about by the way we’ve been forced to change our lives due to coronavirus, it will be interesting to see how those currently taking the high moral ground in the comfortable classes will operate in the months and years to come.

Will they take serious steps to reduce their carbon footprint rather than just paying it lip service as they have generally tended to do? Will they opt for more modest lives, start some serious downscaling to reduce their overall consumption?

It’s rather easy, working from home in one’s plush surroundings, to follow the herd (although not herd immunity) and join in the outpouring of emotion during this coronavirus crisis, castigating those who “coldly” point to overall deaths and a world population that continues to grow steadily.

It’s much harder to take steps that actually reduce one’s living standards that could help save the lives of our planet’s most vulnerable. The big tests are yet to come.
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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