|If you ever wondered what would be a good example to illustrate the absolute pointlessness of borders and countries and citizenship and visas and that entire thing, let me introduce you to the Coronavirus.|
Around the world visas are expiring but since flights have been cancelled people can’t leave. Many countries are extending visas a month at a time, and Japan has announced a 3 month leniency which optimistically assumes all will be back to normal in 3 months. While Portugal has given everyone in the country access to the national health care, social media around the world is full of newly emboldened racists arguing that foreign born permanent residents of their countries should be cut off from health care to keep the resources for the full blooded citizens (naturalized citizens need not apply). But the virus doesn’t give a shit about any of that. It doesn’t choose who to infect based on visa status and doesn’t limit contagion to any racial, political or national group. I’ve listened to people in the US argue that NY was only hit as hard as it was because of the politics of the residents, and that the rest of the country doesn’t have to worry about a similar situation. People are being really stupid.
The truth is a sick person walking down the street can infect any one of my neighbors just as easily as they could infect me, any of my neighbors getting sick puts me in the same risk as everyone else. If I get sick they are just as much at risk as anyone else. So what sense does it make to argue that if the Chinese family 2 streets over gets sick, they shouldn’t get the same medical attention as the rest of my neighbors? What sense does it make that if my visa expires and there are no flights to take me somewhere else, that I’ll be considered to have illegally overstayed my visa and prohibited from coming back?
The purpose of all of these systems is of course obvious – it’s to keep other people out. To create an “other.” Some tangible, legal difference. Someone to be better than. When you are obsessed with laws and paperwork and sorting things into little boxes maybe that seems like a good idea. But you know what doesn’t give a crap about laws or paperwork and sorting things into little boxes? Viruses.
And because viruses don’t care about any of that, all of this focus on what is happening here and ignoring what is happening there, is pointless. All the focus on me and not you is pointless.
This pandemic is certainly acting as a spotlight to bring attention to plenty of previously shadowed rotten and crusty corners of how things work, or more often don’t work. When no one is paying attention dysfunctional systems can just sit there not working because it doesn’t matter to enough people and it would be too much of a headache to try to fix. If it’s not broke don’t fix it right? Well in this case it’s more that if it’s broke but not enough people are impacted by it then don’t fix it. And all the sudden lots of people are being impacted.
(excerpted from my newsletter)