With a Little Help from my Friends!

I am taking the time today to reflect briefly on my blog and the reasons for starting it… It’s been a year and a half. And what a journey these times have been. In my poem Pachacutec, I refer to the world being upside down and there’s no doubt the covid-19 pandemic has brought about complete upheaval. But things have unfortunately stuck in their place more than ever.

Those who are downtrodden and make up precarious or informal labour sectors are suffering at unprecedented rates. Homelessness, lack of food and basic necessities, lack of health care, confusing and conflicting information about sanitary precautions with regard to covid-19, authoritarianism and divide and rule tactics seem to abound.

At the same time, those who feel immune to the virus or see it as something that can be brushed off as easily as a common cold or flu, are experiencing rage at what they consider to be useless lockdowns and soul-destroying isolation.

And for those of us with “comorbidities” or auto-immune conditions or severe allergies, neither the rapidly developed and marketed vaccines with their waivers absolving anyone with power and money involved in their making, distribution and administration of any liability should catastrophic or long-term chronic injury occur. Meanwhile, people will be followed for two years, to see how their bodies cope with vaccine.

The makers and marketers of the vaccine cannot clearly tell us A) How long it will be effective B) What the long term consequences may be C) Whether it can confer more severe infection when a vaccinated person’s immunty wears off and D) How it will account for different strains emerging as rapidly as they do and being carried globally through travel? E) What reactions can the vaccine have with other medications and supplements the public is already taking? F) Will laws change to mandate vaccination in certain professions, activities (ie., travel) etc?

So these are reflections about where we are at the end of December 2020, a witnessing to the world we have made and inherited in which stark inequality is so intertwined with the modern “standard of living” that the virus shows us how connections between humans are dependent on the cash nexus, not on humanity. Precarious part time jobs in hospitals and long-term care homes, underserviced and privatized health care, workers attempting gig based jobs like delivery and ride-share, grocery stores— all these things show we interact oblivous to the web of relations and living conditions we are connected to. Public health experts and epidemiologists are becoming sociologists with their implied critiques of the classed nature of exploitation and othering of those who are not from the middle or the top.

These times without hopeful direction and certainties have certainly derailed my plans for this blog. I had hoped to share more non-fiction and social issue writing, but the concentration needed has eluded me for the past 9 months. I’ve focused on poetry, painting, music, much more than on current affairs. But behind the scenes, I have voraciously been reading in the fields of political economy and epidemiology since March. Since the American Medical Association has declared racism a public health epidemic in the U.S. and Canada has crept quietly beside those declarations, activists and advocates for Black, Indigenous, South Asian patients report similar findings. I hope to continue to reflect on current issues in the new year.

I want to thank all of you who have stood beside me through your perusal of this blog, some more recently, and those faithful family and friends who joined me at the beginning! With your help, and no other advertising, viewership has hit over 10, 000 and blog’s following has really blossomed! Today’s cover drawing is a homage to Emily Dickinson’s adage that “Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/ And never stops at all.”

May you have a warm and healthy new year, full of light, hope, justice and love!

Nochebuena, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020

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