It’s been a year like no other so far. From drought, to fires and extreme heat, to a global pandemic, it feels sometimes like Australia is working its way through the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Slowly Australia is reducing restrictions due to COVID-19, but for some it’s too slow, and some it’s too fast. Of course, as I wrote earlier today on a Goodreads thread, there is no precedent for what we’re doing right now, because we’re dealing with a previously unknown novel coronavirus.
I’ve been struck by a couple of things as the weeks have passed – the actual cultural divide between English speaking human beings that I really hadn’t appreciated, and the reactions of people to various things as restrictions ease.
Once upon a time I understood that although many countries speak English, we’re not all the same. Now, I understand that although many countries speak English, our mindsets are incredibly different in fundamental, but not always obvious, ways.
I’ve realised that we Australians, although we believe we have a strong sense of independence and individuality, the vast majority of us will pull together when the chips are down for the sake of the greater good. Perhaps it’s inherent in our cultural value of ‘mateship.’ Whatever has inspired it, it’s a good thing.
I’ve learned that some other countries don’t have this same thing – or at least not in the same way that we do here. For us, it’s not ‘obedience to government’ or ‘loss of freedom’ but rather more ‘let’s pull together to get through this.’
As restrictions ease, I can see a variety of reactions going on around the place. There are those who are apprehensive that we’re moving too fast. Others think that we’ve completely beaten COVID-19 and good to go back to completely normal. Others just want what they want – right now. And a fourth group is focused on ‘steady as she goes.’
I was struck this evening by the news that beauty salons are to be allowed to open on the first of June, and how many people responded with relief on social media with comments about their eyebrows etc. If you’ve ever met me, you’ll probably realise that I only occasionally use the services of a beauty salon. For me, a pedicure is a treat, not a necessity, so (rather callously for the businesses), it’s not something that’s bothered me at all during this time.
In my practice as a physio, women will often apologise that they haven’t shaved or waxed their limbs, when I (frequently) have to touch or look at them. I usually point out that I’ve never had a man apologise for this, which provokes a few raised eyebrows, and then I point out that hair on legs is actually a normal thing. I really feel that women have been brainwashed into feeling that they need beauty salons. Or maybe it’s just a measure of our country’s relative wealth.
I’m also concerned that people are still wandering down the rabbit holes of conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination rhetoric. Well, generally the two go together. Previously rational people seem to have bought into stuff that is so off the planet that I’m actually concerned. And of course, once someone’s bought into something, they often find echo chambers of conspiracy in which to hang out on social media.
Anyway, I’m quite looking forward to walking with friends regularly again, maybe even going out to dinner on occasion, and sitting in a cafe again. I have appreciated the quiet time at home, however, and because I live in Australia, this time hasn’t been as fearful as it could have been.
At the moment, most of the world isn’t as fortunate. We’re still watching and hoping for you.