What are our priorities?

It’s ironic how the biggest exporter of COVID-19 vaccines has struggled to contain the second wave. The situation is getting worse with each passing day, and my gut says it will be like this for the coming weeks.

Sure, the governance is taking rapid action to put order to the chaos, but it’s already too late for tens of thousands of families who lost family members in the past couple of weeks. I wish the country’s leadership were more prepared to deal with this mayhem. We knew this was coming almost six months ago! Yet, we failed to plan.

Of course, people are just as responsible for what has transpired. We were busy with festivals, big religious gatherings, crowded election rallies, the reopening of public places (as if it was still 2019), and most importantly, neglecting public health protocols, something as simple as wearing a mask.

The warning signs have been with us all along, but we failed to get our act together. And by the time we woke up, we were already in the middle of a Tsunami that right now seems like an unstoppable force.

We’ve got a shortage of medical supplies, beds, vaccines, and even oxygen. And the country’s medical suppliers have been busy shamelessly extorting the poor and desperate by charging them sky-high prices. For example, Remdesivir, a drug used for COVID treatment that costs around $15, is being sold at $100-$150, depending on how greedy the suppliers are. Likewise, oxygen cylinders that cost $50 are sold at $1000-$1500! That’s not a typo.

Labelling such heinous acts of extortion is ungodly. If it were up to some people, they wouldn’t hesitate to loot the families of the ones suffering or deceased! And it breaks my heart to hear these stories about people mortgaging their gold, jewellery, and apartments to be able to afford medical relief for their loved ones.

The system has let the people down. And the people have let humanity down.

Thankfully, there’s some hope. Some leaders like Pinarayi Vijayan make a statement by letting their work do the talking, unlike our prime minister, who’s a passionate speaker but much less about getting things done. It’s time to focus on doing our best as leaders, servants, and citizens of the nation to get past this rough patch.

Once through, however, I think we might benefit from resisting our fundamentals and figuring out where have we lost our way. Is it our culture, values, or beliefs? Or our leadership? Or both?

God speed.

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