In recent days we have seen what is widely known as the “worst case scenario” wrought by the Covid-19 crisis, sadly in our own region, South Asia. Human suffering is vivid in the thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of the near-dead, and millions of sick. We watch this tragedy in the media and social media, and switch it off when we can’t take any more.
But what if this was taking place in our own homes, hospitals, and duthroes (crematoriums) and we can’t switch off the screens? What if the sick and the dead were our own?
The threat looms large and very real. As we continue to buy much of our needs – essentials, comforts, illegal stimulants – from India there is the inevitable cross-border interaction of people. We don’t really know how many positive cases there are in Jaigaon. One mishap, deliberate or oversight, will crack the dam. And the flood is a contagious virus that is multiplying and evolving into deadly forms.
We know that His Majesty The King has resorted to what may be our only hope – his active presence along the southern border, personally identifying vulnerable areas and gaps along a long and porous border that cannot be sealed. His Majesty continues to boost the spirits and stamina of security personnel shielding the physical gaps and loopholes.
And there is always Murphy’s law. What can, and often, goes wrong is what you least expect. For example, the lapses we saw this week involved two doctors who breached the Covid-19 protocol regulations. It is not just travellers, business men and women, smugglers, migrant workers that we have to watch; it is doctors, dashos, lyonpos, desuups – ourselves.
We have long understood that the border is just one aspect of security. We do not need to be reminded of personal and social discipline in following the Covid-19 protocols. But we continue the same lapses and slipups that many countries have seen and suffered from. We come up with explanations like the stresses of quarantines and lockdowns, mental anguish, claustrophobia, pressures to survive the Covid-19 fatigue.
These are all genuine conditions that must be avoided under normal circumstances. But these are not normal times. We are in one of the worst predicaments that the world has seen, and the situation is deteriorating. Catastrophe is at our doorstep. We need to draw on that extra physical mental, emotional, and psychological stamina that, we claim, is the resilience of a GNH society.
We really have no excuses. We have the luxury of living almost normal lives, unlike billions of people around us. We have, at the helm of governance, a King who braves tensions with front liners, who grants billions of ngultrums as kidu and ensures all the necessities of life, besides medical protection and treatment, who is already looking ahead at a Bhutan after the crisis.
All we have to do is look after ourselves… before we become a tragedy on the screen.