Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 5, 1445 H
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Plenty of questions, but very few answers

Ray Petersen
Ray Petersen

I do not want to talk about Covid-19! I am sick of it. It dominates my life, my work,  my family, my home, my diet, my freedom, my sleep patterns, my entire ability to function as effectively as I

know I am capable of, has been significantly compromised.

I know… if you ask me how ‘it’ is all going? I’m going to put on a brave face, like everyone else, be laudably pragmatic and say something like, “Oh, as good as can be expected, safe and healthy thanks,” and shrug, as you do, in that resigned gesture that says “what can I do about it?” And I have no doubt

there are millions the same.

Underneath it all however, I… am… seething! I, and most of you, haven’t fought our way through life, through good times and bad, through some adversity, worked really hard to find your niche and

your purpose in life to be caught up in a horrible parody of a Hollywood movies script, and have that dominate our present and future like an immense, suffocating black cloud, have we?

Yet… that is exactly what fate has dealt us… and we are better off than so many. And that, honestly, is all that keeps my ‘rage’ from surfacing. The fact that there must be so many people around the world

who do not have the standard of living, and the life that we have, must be among the most vulnerable to the pandemic, and its consequences.

The raging concerns for the Sultanate must be the price of oil, which one would think must surely recover once the world comes out of lockdown, and that the foremost form of diversification away from oil and gas here, is tourism, which will face its own challenges as airlines increase fares to make up for what they have lost. Hmm… there is a moral question in there I’m sure?

Closer to home, it’s clear that, in some way, there will need to be changes in the manner in which expatriate workers are accommodated throughout the Sultanate, as we cannot expect to maintain

sufficiently high standards of health and hygiene with six or eight to a room and shared facilities. It’s not even a situation of how many to a room, but how much room, and space, they have.

I have experience of seasonal fruit-picking when I was a young lad at home, where there would be twenty of us sleeping in the same bunkhouse, but we all had our personal space.

The same applied to shearer’s accommodation on the farms, army barracks and boarding schools. It’s one thing to have a large number of people sharing, but its another for it to be an ‘all the time,’ scenario, and another to be a temporary solution.

I can only imagine, as you all will, as to what will be our new future, as this pandemic will have one of two outcomes, either we will go back to being, ‘the way we were,’ or our world will change forever! Will we be able to ignore what has happened and go back to the way we were? Or what will our new ‘world’ be? Will it be that of few choices, like that Hollywood movie?

And how will we feel if we learn that COVID-19 was caused by poor isolation and security protocols at the Wuhan Institute of Virology? It’s done isn’t it? We cannot change history, can we? But

if it is proven, our forgiveness will be well and truly tested, and the depth of our faith, as

never before, challenged?

I’m not giving advice today, or answers. I don’t have them, as much as I wish it were otherwise.

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