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What follows in the wake of this grief

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Sep 07, 2021 11:30 am Updated Sep 07, 2021 3:44 pm

The blare of sirens, flashing lights.

Where I live, they come in twos or threes. At rare times, within a two-to-three-hour space. And then the ambulances frittered away for a time, only to reemerge in the dead of night, this time quietly, like the slow drag of footsteps in the sand so as not to arouse fear.

For several weeks, my Facebook newsfeed turned dark. Strangers and friends told their tragic tales of loss and grief. Seized by the anguish of losing a loved one to the virulence of the virus, many grappled with their own mortality, and thee phemerality of a life they once knew.

People around me are dying. For an empath like me, the guilt of having to stay alive is real.

Had it not been for the avarice of many in the halls of power, and the misplaced pride of those who refuse to be vaccinated, these runaway infections and deaths could’ve been avoided. 

There are measures in place, flawed at best, but nonetheless helpful. Refusing to take into account the result of expert studies makes for a deadly combination of pride and folly. 

Time and again I’ve said that the virus is no respecter of persons. It will contaminate and kill, whoever and whatever people may think they are. A slew of bodyguards cannot stop this airborne plaque any more than the sky cannot halt a meteor plunging our way. 

Make no mistake: this virus will crush any and all who stands in its way, and leave those who have long after recovered to a life encumbered by its continuing symptoms.

When a whole nation is left vulnerable by the lack of common sense in others, only the nagging sense of defeat remains. Choosing to turn a blind eye to the monstrosity that has soured the pandemic response to a business transaction, and not as a means to save lives: this is when apathy becomes criminal.

The call to hold into account the people responsible for the botched pandemic response has been made since Day One. The hundreds of billions wasted on the folly is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The tens of thousands of lives lost, moreover, to say little of a slew of medical frontliners denied of their worth, makes for the grimmest legacy to which this administration would be hard-pressed at claiming.

And then, there’s the grief of over a 100 million Filipinos. By now, it would be safe to assume that most every household has had to deal with the illness or loss of a loved one due to Covid-19.

This overarching grief would no sooner turn into rage if and when the powers that be fail to resist this life-threatening trajectory.

The poet Maya Angelou wrote in her poem, When I Think of Death: “I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else […] Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger follows in its wake.”

Why anger? Why rage? Why even lose an ounce of energy on the failure of government to address a life-disavowing disease?

Simple: for the immense swathe of power and resources vested in the State, it is its role to see to it that the welfare of its peopleremains its prime directive. The State holds no other purpose or justification for its existence than this.

A government which has failed to recognize and act on its one and only goal—to care for the nation—is not only of no use, it’s existence is entirely pointless.

Today, our sad republic will have to deal with its choice of an administration that chooses rather to be blind than face the challenge head on.

To look ourselves in the mirror and ask: what good did it do us to choose the people now in the height of their power?

Did it really leave us an ounce or two contented than the previous administration? Or is this overwhelming grief the final heirloom of this regime, the same grief that will leave us grappling for answers for years to come?

As the 2022 elections hover round the bend, we should resist the temptation to lie to ourselves any more than we have to. The truth may be unpleasant, painful, altogether embarrassing.

But when weighed against the overarching grief which we now face, the truth remains as the one thing that bears the promise of liberation.

We will not be able to bring back the loved ones we have lost, or the dreams of a future once thought of as possible. Our world has changed. We have changed.

Yet I believe that those who have passed on would want us all to continue living, and finally chart a better course for ourselves and our future as a nation.

Choose wisely, therefore, in 2022, so that their deaths will not be in vain.