Someone asked on twitter, “What do you miss most in the lockdown?” There were many answers, a large number of them were about missing travel, shopping, hanging out with friends. The consumer economy has been one of choices. The more economically advanced a country the larger the options – shampoo, make up clothes, cars, holidays. The menu of choices a stark contrast to today’s reality where a large number of people are confined to their homes with only a finite set of options.
Today, the choices have a moral and ethical dimension too. Stay at home or go out and risk your health and that of others. Shut down the economy and risk huge economic losses or let things continue as is and let the healthcare system tackle it as best as possible.
A lockdown ensures that production and supply of goods and services comes to a grinding halt. Faltering economic activity ensures that the economy goes into a free fall. If it does, who bears the cost? Also, much before the lockdown, consumer sentiment had already faltered. Malls and restaurants were looking empty, car dealerships were stocked up with few customers and real estate had already sunk to new depths. There has already been a rout in the markets. While it’s anybody’s guess whether the lockdown will eliminate the virus, it is almost certain that it will slow the spread.
Once the lockdown ends, the virus and ensuring health challenges might emerge again in a few months. This is because the virus doesn’t understand boundaries. It’s travelled between humans and animals, crossed across borders and survived in diverse climates. Precisely why a coordinated response to this is essential. We are as strong as the weakest link. If virus containment fails in our neighboring countries, it will fail for us too. As long as it is there in even one of us, anywhere at all, it will come back.
So, should a country lock itself off forever? Should countries fight with each other for having sent the virus to infect the others population? Should companies prioritize profit over public good? Should people prioritize pleasure over safety?
The fight for one’s survival, is the fight for everyone. Should one fail, we all lose. Our economies are interconnected, so are our lives.
So, choose your actions well!
We are many, we are one.