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My personal contingency plan for COVID-19 pandemic

My apartment in Casco Viejo, Panama City, March 2020

The lockdown on your own gives you some free time at hand and it gives you time to think and ponder.

Observing my own reality around me here in Panama, reality of some of my friends in other parts of the world, reading emergency reports from my colleagues trying to manage the situation, being involved in developing various scenarios and contingency plans, and finally reading the press and online services on what is happening around the globe, it is difficult not to come to a conclusion that we are dealing with a moment in our existence that will have a profound impact on our future. First few days, I still thought that things may get back to normal soon, now I am convinced that we have passed the line, where it is impossible.

We are witnessing the moment in the history, where the world that we know has ended.

Perhaps, we are not realising it yet, but COVID-19 has and will have changed all of our lives, as individuals, communities, but also when it comes to the way we interact with each other as nations, international bodies. Everything is and still will be challenged. Things will not get back to 'business as usual'.

In the same time, I believe that we are given a great opportunity to create something better, and that 'not going back to business as usual' does not need to be a bad thing. No, I am not saying it will be easy. On a contrary, we are about to enter a global earthquake where we will be tested to the very end of our limits. Lots of us will suffer terribly… many of us may fall sick, will deal with sad personal tragedies relating to health of ours, or health of people that we love and care for. We will be tested when it comes to various securities and things that we take for granted. Our job security may be at stake, we may face severe financial problems and we many of us will be confronted with systems breaking down. We may be disappointed by our politicians, administrations, religion leaders. There will be protests, there will be violence, there will be abuse of power, abuse of our basic human rights, in the name of 'security and perseverance of nations'. Things are likely to go really bad and wild. Clearly, we will not be affected in the same way, as we live in various parts of the world where protection systems and safety nets work in a different ways, but I have little doubts, it is all coming, and we will need to deal with it whether we like it or not. We are all in it, wherever we happen to live and come from.

I think however that we will be given plenty of opportunities to make our world to be a better place eventually. There will be plenty of threats too, and as a humanity we will need to navigate together to make it right, or else face even more dramatic consequences.

How we can do it? I genuinely do not know. I just have thought about what I should do, trying being a bit more constructive and helpful and this is a list of commitments that I have come up with to me.

- I will try looking after my needs, after my body and mental health. I will try to be better in finding a better work/rest balance, especially when during a lockdown situation,

- Do my professional work/duties the best that I can. I will do whatever I can to seize opportunities to deliver services that I am responsible to as many people as possible,

- I will try not to get defensive. If people are critical to me, professionally or personally, I will try not to get upset, but look at the critics with an open mind, and judge whether it actually make sense,

- I will do whatever I can, to promote that we all are in this together, and we are all vulnerable and potentially worried regardless of where we come from, regardless of what our social or economical status is. I will try challenging back the discourse of that 'my country…, my community…, my people…, are better, or have done it better, or are more important… I really think that we are not in competition, we need to look after each other! All of us!

- I recognise that at least today, I have more means that many other people around me. I will do whatever I can to share my resources with people who may be in trouble. I will keep on supporting the most vulnerable people and families around me, even if they can not do anything in exchange for me: I will not stop paying salary to the person who helps me at home (even if no service is possible), I will keep on sending support to my favourite waiters, people who washed my car for as long as I can afford it and for as long as they are unable to find new work (most of them have already lost the work),

- I will try being careful and not spread information that is not confirmed and/or that may increase anxiety or panic,

- Finally, I will call the people that are important for me, and talk to them and try supporting them, and accept that they may be worried about me too.

I believe that we need to be extra kind to one another now, and be reactive to populism, egoism, lack of empathy. This alone will not change the world, but perhaps will contribute to creating something more sustainable for the future for all of us?

Please write to me, if you feel like it is something that you would like to do! I will be happy to read or hear from you!

Greetings to you all, and stay strong!