Diane Phillips: Coronavirus, Climate Change Converge to Remind Us Grammy and Grampy Were a Hold Heap Smarter than We Realized

Coronavirus, Climate Change Converge to Remind Us Grammy and Grampy Were a Hold Heap Smarter than We Realized

By Diane Phillips

I’m writing this on a Sunday midday knowing full well the numbers will change by Friday when you read it. As of now, there are 87,000 cases of coronavirus. That’s 2,000 more than there were 20 minutes ago. The death toll stands at nearly 3,000 and no doubt will jump while I continue to write and monitor. The Louvre just closed its doors. America’s smallest state, Rhode Island, reported its first case. Infections have been confirmed on every continent except Antarctica. While The Bahamas holds its breath, the Minister of Health has been keeping the country informed with constant dashboard updates.

Coronavirus is scary. Unlike other varieties of flu, its unprecedented contagiousness threatens far more than our health. It threatens everything we have come to take for granted — that shelves will be full when we go shopping, that medicines will be widely available when we need them, that the hassle in travel will be taking off our shoes not fearing being quarantined for 14 days because someone on the same flight or ship showed symptoms. It threatens America’s wildly booming stock market and it dashes the dream of a 5-year-old who was counting the days until she could go to Disney World in Tokyo only to hear her parents try to explain why it closed for two weeks.

In a word, coronavirus is an interrupter. It’s worse for those who are infected and worst of all for those who lose a loved one to it. But for the rest of the world, it interrupts the life we have been living, oblivious to a set of germs that, microscopic as they are, would throw us so off our paths that we are tipsy, trying to find our balance and figure out how best to move forward. We deliberate over travel plans and event attendance.

We juggle a dozen decisions that weren’t even on our radar a day ago.

In other words, it’s a lot like hurricanes. Empty shelves, price-gouging, attractions and excursions closed, hotel occupancy falling, airlines and cruise ships scrambling itineraries, planned budgets shredded and massive recovery expenses afterward. Climate and health events are largely out of our control. Both make us feel powerless. They are simply too big for us to handle alone. We can’t push back the waves or stop the onslaught of a pandemic.

There is something else they cause us to do and that is, stop to think about how un self-sufficient we are. We depend on others for just about everything we need for our everyday lives. We no longer grow our own food or catch our own fish or sew our own clothes. When it comes to doing for ourselves, we don’t. We let others do the work and we monetize the reward.

Yet for the last seven years, one man has constantly warned us of the dangers of this dependency. Joe Darville, Long Island born and raised, educator, counselor, humanitarian, environmental and human rights advocate, now a Grand Bahamian who has been beating the drum through Save The Bays and Waterkeepers and the many other hats he wears urging us to teach our children how to swim so they can survive hurricanes, begging us to go back to building boats because we will one day face a Noah’s Ark dynamic with rising seas. Darville has beseeched us to grow our own vegetables and raise our own chickens so we can feed ourselves when the unthinkable like the coronavirus cripples the supply chain.

He reminds us that before we get too chuffed at the way we live now, commending ourselves for the ability to swipe a card and consume all we want without applying a lick of labour, to think back to how Grammy and Grampy lived. They swam, they fished, they grew food, they celebrated the harvest of their own labour. We know we cannot replicate that lifestyle and we are not downplaying its hardships and challenges. But right now, as we cancel nonessential travel, stockpile cases of tuna and get ready to hunker down, we might just stop and think about Joe Darville’s pleas for each of us to ensure every child can swim and to help others overcome their fear of the water, to take growing a bit of food in a community vegetable garden seriously and to restore the art of boat-building in The Bahamas.

As events reminding us of our dependence on the outside world interrupt our lives, we have to hand it to our forebears. Climate change and coronavirus are converging to teach us Grammy and Grampy were a lot smarter than we knew. They just did for themselves and if they are in heaven looking down on us now, they might just be wagging their finger saying, ‘We told you so.’


NAD, Smart on them, or How to Make a Construction Site Appealing

If you’ve parked near the domestic terminal at LPIA lately, you may have noticed the addition of flamingoes flying through the clouds. The design, which mimics a flamingo installation inside the airport making up part of its extensive art collection, now appears on a screen concealing the area where the old terminal was finally demolished. How easy it is to turn ugly into beautiful. Kudos to NAD, airport operators.