New year, same old

Text reads: New year, same old. Background contains a wheelchair moving through an open plan building.

Well, it’s a brand new year and we’re now a good two years into the pandemic with no clear end in sight. During most of this time, I’ve been safely tucked up in my Western Australian bubble, but we’re set to open up to the world in less than a month and things are bound to change.

There’s a big part of me that’s super keen to open up. I want to hug people I haven’t seen in two or more years and see my favourite bands on tour. And I dunno, maybe roam about Salzburg wearing clothes made out of drapes. (Hey, I reference Star Trek and Star Wars a lot around here, so why not throw The Sound of Music into the mix?)

But I’m also aware that no jurisdiction has achieved the holy grail of no internal restrictions, no travel restrictions, a health system that is not overwhelmed and a strong economy. So it then becomes a question of which of those things you consider to be acceptable sacrifices. Different people have different values and priorities, which seems to be the source of most interpersonal conflicts.

I have mates working in the arts and entertainment who lose their income every time there’s a lockdown, capacity limits on venues or restrictions on events.

And I know people who didn’t choose their lot in life but are likely to die if they got COVID… and even if they were complete strangers to me, they’re still people, not just statistics with “underlying conditions”.

So I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what the right balance might be.

But I do know this: Telling disabled, chronically ill and immunocompromised people that you’re sick of being inconvenienced and that they should just “not go out in public if they’re so scared” – as if they haven’t already been carrying the burden of society’s selfishness this entire time – is not an acceptable sacrifice to me.

If more people came to the same conclusion, maybe we’d get further in building an inclusive and accessible world that benefits everyone. I tend to be quite cynical and sarcastic, but I also want to believe that we can do better and be better than we are.

I’ve titled this post “New year, same old” but I would dearly love to be wrong in a good way.

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