By Letter to the Editor on July 29, 2020.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization recently said that the COVID-19 pandemic will probably get “worse and worse,” because known counter measures are not applied strictly enough, especially in the Americas.
It is a known phenomenon without a fancy name. People, animals and plants get used to adverse circumstances, adapt accordingly and accept the bad situation as normal. This surrender to long-term misery is different from being stunned or dumbfounded after a single event.
Plants survive even in severe dry or cold places. They cannot migrate, but must adapt or die.
Animals are living in all places between the Earth’s north and south poles. Beetles stand bottoms up on dune peaks to extract a few drops from early morning fog. In scorching deserts, most small animals go underground during the day and come out overnight to feed. It is the only world they know.
For polar bears, living on ice is normal. Caribou and geese feed and breed in the far north during summer, and migrate south to escape the severe northern winter.
Canadians accept their long winters, and Americans keep living in areas prone to hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes.
Should we likewise adapt to COVID-19 as an unavoidable part of our environment – just as we live with traffic accidents, heart-disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, poverty and death?
Shall we be content with viruses, flies and mosquitoes crawling all over us, or shall we actively resist and fight, as we still do regarding abuse, racism, crime, pests and contagious diseases?
The choice to surrender to misery or to work and fight for improvement is made in every country and household – also in war zones, refugee camps, slums and drought-stricken areas.
Even in the most despondent person, there is often a glowing coal left beneath the ashes. It can be fanned to cooking fire, serving a good purpose.
For the sake of family and friends, we must not surrender to COVID complacency, but continue to practise prevention diligently.
Jacob Van Zyl