I sit in my Modiin home in Israel and listen to the police on loudspeaker imploring residents to stay indoors while they prepare the streets to be disinfected with chemicals. I’m grateful, but an eerie feeling washes over me.
Malls, restaurants and workplaces have shut their doors until further notice. Patients are being tracked. Quarantine violators are being investigated. The sound of a cough has people whispering. People look at each other with suspicion while cashiers wear masks and gloves. Children are homeschooled, the stock market plummets, and international borders close.
No, this is not a scene from the Handmaid’s Tale. This is real life. But real life is starting to feel a lot more like a movie, except we don’t know how this one ends, what the final impact will be, or how this will change the fabric of our society and the ways we interact.
We do seem to know one thing for certain — living in the 21st century apparently didn’t preclude us from living through a global pandemic of this scale. And the question remains — how do we, as individuals, as a collective, react?
It’s just a two percent death rate, some say. We’re young and healthy, others say. If we get it, at worst it’ll be like the flu, at best we won’t even know we had it. But not everyone will be so lucky. And anyone who loses someone will experience it not 2%, but 100%.
Messages on social media are pouring in from Italy and Spain, countries that have been hit hard, begging the world to take the virus seriously. To be extra vigilant. To learn from them. To stay at home, while there’s still time. However eerie this feels, the infringement on our privacy and our rights — the freedoms we are losing today, they are for the sake of saving lives tomorrow. Let’s not be indifferent to life. Not today. Not ever.