Lim: Poverty

Melanie T. Lim
·2 min read

Is it poverty that drives the virus?

As predicted by the pundits, our Covid-19 cases are now rising. I can’t say we weren’t warned. And if social media is the arbiter of our social lives, I have to say, we had it coming.

When told to moderate our actions, we did the opposite—almost like we were trying to provoke the virus to spread after it had slowed down.

Emboldened by the low case count in early December, we took what we felt was a “much-deserved” timeout from lockdown restrictions. And after strict compliance with safety protocols for seven months, we foolishly thought we had earned an extended hall pass.

So off we went—to the malls, the restaurants, the mountains, the ocean—with family and friends to celebrate our new-found freedom. Well and good—if we only went with household members and never took our masks off in the presence of others.

Social gatherings have been on the rise since December. And they have not been confined to holiday gatherings. People have been holding parties to celebrate birthdays and other occasions.

All these gatherings which bring together individuals from different households involve a lot of communal eating. Hence, no surprise in the rise in cases now.

A variant of the virus has arrived on our shores. It won’t be the last. Know that by the time you get wind of a new variant arrival, it’s likely been around the community for longer than you think. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the enemy now.

Why do we have to throw a party at this time?

In our country, no celebration can happen without a party. And when it comes to parties—bigger is better—even if you have to go into debt if only to avoid being talked about by the neighbors behind your back.

For a Filipino, to scrimp during a birthday is scandalous, to spend, virtuous. Well, if you must celebrate your milestone with the entire city, please send everyone the most spectacular food packages possible but please eat apart—in your own homes.

I’m not saying we should never step out. I’m not advocating stricter community-wide restrictions. I’m saying, let’s be more sensible, thoughtful, responsible. Our actions affect everyone.

It’s not about a lack of masks, running water or soap. People still flout the rules when they have all three. They still take their masks off, eat, drink and gather socially. Are we so morally bankrupt that we must party despite the fact that such a selfish act could possibly kill and make others seriously ill?

It’s not about being impoverished. It’s about being indifferent. Just look at the buffet spread at every birthday or weekend celebration. It’s not a lack of money. It’s a lack of conscience.

Is it poverty that drives the virus? Yes. The poverty of conscience.