A cloud is shown in the sky with dark background.

I’m contagious. Now what?

The State of Victoria is in lock-down for the next week after genome sequencing revealed a Covid-19 outbreak resulting from one person who was infected in a quarantine hotel. 

Long delayed family reunions have been cancelled. Businesses are shut. More people are expected to require ventilators. Story after story of disappointment, loss and hardship. All attributable to a single event of transmission.

But also equivalent stories of hope and optimism flow from that same event. Neighbourhoods forming from suburbs as relationships develop over fences and in local parks driven by individual acts of thoughtfulness. Health care workers going above and beyond their job description, modelling steady diligence and distributing kindness. 

The wonderful and intimidating reminder of this time is that we are deeply and irrevocably connected. Our choices matter beyond ourselves. We are each part of a system of extraordinary complexity and interdependency. 

Our pandemic experience hints at a very real tension. I am both powerful and powerless – powerful because my choices are signficant and impact others (whether I intend it or not) and powerless because I am subject to the impact of the choices of others who I can’t control.

The great opportunity is to grasp that this tension is true during global pandemics as it is on every other day. We are not only #bettertogether. We can also be #worsetogether. But we are unmistakably #together, like it or not.

My choices matter. I am contagious

This is of course why vaccinations and mask-wearing have become such heated topics of debate – because individual rights are always contextualised by collective responsibility. 

The polarities must be expressed and find unified expression in relationship. There is simply no way to isolate ourselves in irreconcilable bubbles of our own truth. 

Perhaps even more dangerous than the virus itself is the contagion of showing disdain to those who hold different views. Not simply disagreeing with the opinion, but trashing the person who holds it. Contact tracers would do well to identify the super-spreaders of that particular strain of disease.

The question for me is not whether I impact on others, but what kind of impact do I wish to have. I am contagious. And thankfully, so are you.