In the U.S alone, thousands of people have died over the past two months. Over 2 million people, worldwide, have succumb to the coronavirus disease. This is no brave new world but a dystopian nightmare we are living in. Presently, there is no vaccine and our health systems are under enormous stress. Information on the virus changes day-to-day. Divisions in our government are the only things that are consistently transparent in the world of politics.

There are the usual politicians willing the gamble the lives of their people in order to be re-elected, which is contrasted by those who are actively fighting to ensure the welfare of their citizens. Normality, as we knew it, is alas becoming a distant memory.

Social order, so far, has been maintained. But, what happens when unemployment continues to rise? People will not be able afford to pay rent or their mortgages. Circumstances could become more critical when there’s a food shortage. We saw how people reacted when they thought that there wouldn’t be enough of essential goods. People started to hoard out of fear of potential shortages. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, all disappeared from the shelves. As the number of deaths has continued to soar, and, predictions of worse to come, our minds become solely concentrated on survival at any cost. It’s at a time such as this we need clear and decisive leadership. However, on a national level, the leadership shelf has been cleaned out.

Confusion about this disease, dogs us at every turn, as the ministry of disinformation (the White House) continues to bombard us with fake news and unrealistic hopes of a quick end to our struggles. When someone’s ego replaces leadership it’s not a good sign for any of us. We have watched and listened to a president lie through his teeth while attacking the press for calling him out on his nonsense. The pandemonium of one man’s antics has hijacked the real issue in this pandemic, the sick and dying, not the election.

China, Italy and Spain, initially, were among the worst hit. We heard stories of death tolls that seem incredulous. Never, in our generation, have we witnessed the destruction of so many lives by such a virulent disease; a virus that is no respecter of class, creed, or race. Covid-19 has become the great equalizer. However, unlike the virus, we have seen how our society defers to those who have and less so to those who have not. People without health insurance, or who are dependent on their jobs, cannot afford to look after their health as they should. They put themselves and us at risk when they are forced to work. The pittance offered in the stimulus package is never going to keep our workers safe from harm.

And, while we see people struggle to keep afloat, there are the celebrities posting pictures of themselves self-isolating in their luxury resorts, or expensive mansions. The economic gaps exposed by this pandemic should have us reeling. When we see how peoples’ health, their very lives, being measured by what they can afford, then it should make us think about the sort of society we have created. I was amazed at one Republican politician who complained that the stimulus package would make people lazy. His comment reminded me of a similar comment made by an English politician (who had never been to Ireland) about Irish people during the famine. Starving people, he claimed, should only be helped if they worked for their aid. Those who were too sick to work, simply died.

Times of crisis expose the best and worst of human nature. It’s easy to point the finger at those we see hoarding food or clearing the shelves. For the most part, they are frightened and scared. Their need for self-protection seems so obvious, whereas when a politician, who has the inside track about the pandemic, moves stocks to a more lucrative place in the stock market we are less disturbed by those actions. When it comes to selfishness it’s too easy to see the poor struggling to keep alive in the worst light, and it is used to distract us from those in power who are willing to put our lives in danger in order to fatten their wallets.

This is a time for us to be skeptical, especially of those in power. If the leadership has not shown that they have our best interests at heart and are merely lining their own pockets, it’s time to oust them. Anger is best shown in political action. We have what we voted for, so let’s not make that mistake again or we’ll dig ourselves a bigger hole than we’re in. We’re going to see that the worst hit by this virus are the poor. Those who cannot afford to self-isolate put their lives at risk out of economic necessity. They have no safety net to fall back on. Those who serve our food, delivery our groceries, put themselves in harm’s way, do so because they have no other option.

When the black plague happened in the 14th Century it took the disease ten years to go from China to Europe. It has taken this disease a matter of days to reach Europe. The black plague took approximately 25 million lives and, much like this present pandemic, it exposed the inequalities of social healthcare. Years after the black plague, society had to change their approach to healthcare. If you want a workforce to go back to work, you need to look after your workers’ health. It’s as simple as that. If you make it impossible for them to afford healthcare, then society as a whole suffers. It took the black plague to change society’s approach to healthcare. We can only hope that this pandemic will lead to a restructuring our healthcare to meet the needs of all and not the few.