Thoughts on Lockdown: Dreading the Lift

A note: Starting April 6 and moving into the foreseeable future, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on lockdown — along with a random photo from more carefree days. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

john muir trail

Here in Kyiv, we’re mere hours from lockdown restrictions being lifted.

It appears the transition will be gradual: Restaurants can set up outdoor seating. Parks will reopen. Some non-essential businesses can reopen, with restrictions on how many people can be inside.

I want the freedom of movement as much as anyone. But, looking out the window even today, I worry about the future.

Just because restrictions will be gradually lifted, that doesn’t mean the pandemic is coming to an end.

The smart thing to do is still wear a mask. People still need to keep social distancing. We still need to give people space on sidewalks. We need to cover our coughs and be particularly mindful around older and more vulnerable people.

Supposedly business owners at all of these independent stores will take their customers’ temperatures before letting them enter. And they’re supposed to restrict people to one per 10 square meters.

Please excuse me while I compose myself from hysterical laughter over here.

Are you kidding me? What business is going to take every single person’s temperature? A friend of ours went to the visa office the other day — a government building — and people packed the lobby.

This slow lifting of restrictions sounds good in theory, but it only works if people employ self-restraint and a shared sense of responsibility.

Throughout this pandemic, one of the things that struck me was a general sense of community that sprung up at a grassroots level across the globe. Collaboration superseded competition. As we slowly emerge from this disaster and begin establishing the “new normal,” I believe cooperation will be key to our success. Yes, I’ve written about it.

Yet, as we face the slow lifting of restrictions here, the way I’ve approached this pandemic has changed. Previously, I was concerned about being a carrier and accidentally infecting others. Now, I am afraid of becoming infected by others who act irresponsibly.

Yes, I want to eat at an outside cafe that has created socially distant seating. But I don’t trust the other patrons.

Once the subway reopens, I assume there will be guidelines and suggestions on how to ride safely. I’ll want to ride the subway. But I don’t trust the people around me to respect the guidelines.

I am an inherently trusting person. It has always been one of my biggest flaws. But in the case of this pandemic, I simply don’t think people will do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do.

Everyone is stir crazy. Everyone will want to push the limits just a little bit. Yes, I see even close friends who know better trying to find the few inches they can push this way or that because we’ve all just had enough. But when everyone does that, there’s no reason to even have the guidelines in the first place.

Everyone thinks their situation is special. They think they’re the only people inconvenienced. I constantly feel like screaming, “This isn’t about you!” 

Cory and I have spent a long time talking about how we’re going to approach life tomorrow, next week, next month, next year as we walk into a post-pandemic world.

Observing people outside in our own neighborhood — and reading about the massive protests against stay-at-home orders in the United States — it’s clear to me that people aren’t going to take proactive measures to do the right thing. They won’t consider what society as a whole needs because — and especially — it requires individual sacrifice and inconvenience.

That collaboration, cooperation, and collective action we’ve ridden throughout much of this pandemic has been pivotal. As much as I’d like to see people continue to embrace those principles, I don’t hold out much hope at this point. Those values require setting aside the self-identification, individualistic, isolationist mindset that have been bred into our general societal fabric for generations. And as our restrictions begin to lift, I anticipate we’ll see people leaning more toward their personal desires than what society as a whole needs.

About this photo:

Now that we’ve officially called our originally scheduled summer trip off, Cory and I have been dreaming up ways we can go camping and/or hiking this summer somewhere within Ukraine — far from any other humans. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that I’ve been gravitating toward photos from our trek on the John Muir Trail. This picture was taken early in our trek, when we were still in Yosemite National Park. After setting up camp, M often loved fishing before dinner. Though I can’t remember if he caught anything this particular evening, I do remember how stunning the sunset was and how truly grateful I felt for being privileged enough to be in such a serene and peaceful place at that moment in time.

Read more Thoughts on Lockdown:

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