The news came, followed by a crushing sound of my wife’s world falling. Her brother was no longer in it. After five weeks on the ventilator, there was nothing more the doctors could humanly do to bring him back. Father. Son. Husband. Brother. Friend. Beautiful. One of the best people I’ve ever met was gone. The daily report with numbers of people that died of corona are no longer statistics to us. They became part of our life—a devouring black hole in the middle of it.
What used to be distant numbers suddenly turned into pain, sadness, and anger. There are thousands of questions running through our minds, but no answer can ever bring him back. It is damn hard to find any meaning behind it, and the mornings are the worst. That’s when you get painfully aware that it was not just a bad dream. Questions come back. Sorrow takes over, only to be replaced by anger. But, if anything, let it be a call for responsibility. Before blaming the governments, institutions, nations, and secret powers, let’s look at ourselves and ask, ‘am I doing what needs to be done?’
Until we find the cure and the vaccine, we cannot manage coronavirus. But we can manage ourselves. That is why I don’t hold Swedish government responsible and will repeat the same I did some months ago: the herd immunity does not get built by herd mentality. On the contrary, it requires a strong individual mentality capable to rationally internalize the behavior recommended by trustworthy institutions. What I believe is that went wrong with the Swedish strategy was that it ignored one of the basic rules of choice architecture; If you wish to orient people towards socially desirable conduct, you should never let them know that they are behaving better than the desired norm.
Once people, governments, and finally, the WHO started to praise the ‘Swedish model,’ the herd mentality took over. It activated the tribal, triumphant mode of superiority. It made people lose the perspective of risks as if it were more important to prove that the ‘Swedish method’ was better than the others. As if the coronavirus was just a theoretical question against which the method was to be challenged. It is not. Corona is very real, and it is far from over.
Until recently, I have also considered corona as something virtual. As something that happens in the media. It was when it entered our family that I became more aware and started taking more precautions. Today, when I enter the store with a facemask, people stare at me. I am the only one wearing it. They get surprised when I step away from them. It’s good that they stare. It’s good that they get surprised. Where we live, the infection and mortality rates are low compared to other parts of Sweden. But so it were Stockholm and Goteborg before thousands got infected in just a few weeks’ time. Wearing a mask perhaps is not the best safety precaution against the virus, but it does raise people’s awareness. It helps to stay alert. To keep the distance, so that no more families have to go through this same hell.
There will be time to rate the governments’ and institutions’ responses. There will be time to see who was wrong or right. Today it is just a waste of precious time. We don’t need the ‘guilty ones’. We need solutions, and I don’t believe in lockdowns as such. What we need instead is to follow the instructions issued by trustworthy institutions. I am sure that we will find the vaccine much sooner if, instead of political benefit, the focus is placed upon scientific solutions. But, in the meantime, do your part! Keep your distance or stay home!
WE LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU SO MUCH, MY BROTHER!