Not Sure How to Respond

I don’t know when it starts since I haven’t been tuned in with all the news in China. But it looks like there has been quite some Covid going on in China in the past two weeks. In fact, I don’t even know if this is true, for from what I can see in the American news outlets, the Covid visualizer shows China’s situation is still pretty mild. But China has a “zero tolerance” Covid policy, so I guess the current case boom happening in China is a relative “boom,” in comparison with this “zero tolerance” policy.

I sure can see some panic going on among my friends and family in China, considering the city in which I grew up is under a sort of “semi-lock-down” situation right now. While I’ve constantly been in touch with friends and family in that city (let’s call this city “City S”), I have not been very keen in discussing their lock down situation. I wonder why. One friend told me this morning that she had absolutely no way to go back to her home city, which is the capital city, yet she might have some chance to escape City S. The challenge for her is not only the whimsical policy of whether her apartment complex has too be completed “locked,” meaning no residents can set outside of the complex (“It was temporarily locked this afternoon, but later it is said it’s no longer locked; I have absolutely no clue what’s going on,” she told me), but also that she is paying a few hundred yuan per day to live in her current rental apartment. I said I see, looks like the situation is really not fun and I understand why you wanna leave this place even though you still have no means to get back to Beijing.

But the truth is that although I’ve been listening to her passionate complaints and nodding along the way, I sense that I actually don’t care about what’s going on on her end. I, living in the U.S., have been locked down by the pandemic at home for almost two years. True, there’s never been a real lock-down policy enforced on me, but out of caution and fear and also care for others, I have not been going out like I used to. For 80% to 90% of the time in the past two years, I stayed at home, worked at home, exercised at home, cooked at home, etc. Whenever I go out, I wear a mask properly, which means never once did I allow my mask to fall below my nose or dangle on my chin in a public space with other people around. I even wear mask when I’m alone, driving my car, all windows shut. I’m not sure how to respond to my friend, because I don’t know what a “normal” life looks like or feels like after two years of (I guess you could say) self-imposing lock down, and because my friend, together with everyone else who lives in China, on the other hand, has gone back to her happy normal life and doesn’t know what the pandemic looks like or feels like.

In the past, when I told people in China that our situation was really bad while they had already resumed normalcy, I got their blank stares, well-intentioned yet less sincere greetings, and sometimes not overt but nonetheless sensible sneerings. My jealousy toward them and my hope for a normal life have waned gradually as time passes. But what remains unchanged for me is that I just can’t stand people saying stuff or living as if the pandemic has ended. No, it hasn’t ended. It has been here since early 2020 and it is still here with us, and by “us,” I mean all of us on the Earth, human or non-human. What’s worse, I don’t know when it will really end. People can certainly act as if the virus is gone for good, but it is still here, somewhere around us, ignoring our ignorance, ready to attack again.

In the end, I guess what I really want to respond is that I have so much respect for nature. Humans may think they have conquered the world and are ready for journeys to other planets, but nature will always show who is the real mightier one; and if no respect is submitted, humans are bound to be thwarted.

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