Meditations on 2020 by my father

And our first community contribution to this blog comes from no other but my dear dad, Darko. If you’ve met him you know he is a smart, educated, cosmopolitan gentleman of calm, diplomatic and pragmatic disposition. Great guy with lots of smart things to say. So, without further ado, Darko’s drops of wisdom:

There is an interesting word in Montenegrin language: “Cojstvo”. The root of the word is ”Covjek”, which means a man. So, the close translation would be manliness. It is described as an ability to protect others from oneself. A such it is complimentary to bravery, which is to protect week from mighty.

Since the start of this pandemic, I was asking myself, what we should do:

  • Be brave, face the danger of pandemic, and keep the life going as nothing is happening. I am intentionally using word life instead of economy for example. Because there is so much more then economy at stake. There is lost or damaged childhood of our kids and grandkids, there are first loves of our teenagers, which will be postponed until it will be something different, there is mental health of pretty much everybody. And there is the economy. There is survival of the people who were struggling before this ordeal, and now walking on the verge of survival. Would taking such direction be bravery, or it would it be just act of defeat due to lack of better ideas. On the other hand, seeing so many loved ones dying or suffering, could leave even more scars on everybody.
  • Be manly. Protect others from myself, as a potential virus carrier. But what aspect of protection? Protect the numbers of infected to climb, at any cost? We see that Chinese did that with a great success. But, would that be worth in this society? We are accustomed to personal freedoms and responsible assessment of situation we are in. If you take that from us, what is left? Why did I then make a move to come here and to endure the cultural shock, to restart my life at the age of 40? I had something similar, just not that diligent, back home.
  • Take the middle ground. I have to admit: if I was in situation to make decision in early 2020, I would take the similar course of action. Seeing numbers climbing, people dying, health professionals overworked and forced to make warlike triage, what else to do but to shut everything down. But then, it is almost a year since; are we paralyzed in our contemplation? Are we in a one-way street which leads to death, and the only question is: at what speed? I don’t have the knowledge to make that assessment. I rather think that we are on as ship in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the storm, and we can take any course we find opportune.  So, lower the sails, don’t cut them off. Spare the food and water and try to steer the boat out of the danger. By now, we should have learned how to isolate the sick, and to give more freedom to healthy ones. Some degree of reduction of freedom is probably necessary, but let’s face it: for example, Google tracks our phones and knows exactly where we’ve been, (they even send me emails telling me of all the places I’ve visited). So, the knowledge is there, but we are not using it so to maintain the hypocrisy that we are not being watched.

Democracy has its flaws; one must sell their soul to get and stay in power.

Like in any perfect storm, several factors had to happen simultaneously to bring us to where we are today.

  • Overall adoption of “just in time supply” doctrine of industry, governments etc. In other words, the doctrine of “don’t keep stock, there are always Chinese who can make things, when we need them”. Well, the Chinese decided the life of their citizen is more precious than the few bucks they can earn selling PPE. So, we were left without the PPE.
  • Delusional TV personality was at the helm of the free world. Donald was not doing anything in regards to COVID for months, and then accused Chinese of being late to disclose what they knew. I am not a Chinese advocate; I am simply illustrating what diligence looks like.
  • We Canadians have the drama queen (or was it a drama teacher?) as a prime minister. There is nothing much wrong with what he did, but there is certainly not much right either.
  • We Ontarians have a former drug dealer as the prime minister. Rather than interfere with his job as the head of government, he left all decisions to the few doctors in public health. My problem with giving all decision-making power to them is that professionals, by definition, are not supposed to take risk. In my case (I am a professional structural engineer) if I have a zero-risk approach, beams on my projects will be too big, so either customers will leave me, or it will end the old-fashioned Italian way of a 2”x4” beam across my back.  But there is not much to regulate this complete risk aversion bias in public health professionals so they should not be the ones making all decisions in isolation.

But we could, by luck, have some quality leaders. Or maybe it is time for the fine tuning of democracy. It is not time for dictatorships for sure.

By now you probably guessed that I am a liberal, and as such, by definition, often in disagreement with myself. 

One thought on “Meditations on 2020 by my father

  1. Oooo, havla sine sto si me ovako nahvalio. I hvala za proof reading. Samo sad ne kapiram zadnju recenicu o Dagiju. Mozda poneki zarea, pa cak I tacka


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