Issue #89 / March 2020
What do we do now?
JOHN, LONDON, UK
The Red Hand Files has always been a space in which I could offer dubious existential notions, religious meditations, unsound advice, millennial senilities and general annoyances, while hopefully simultaneously extending a little human kindness and compassion. However, these sorts of ruminations came from a more privileged and fortunate time, when we had the oxygen to muse and to play. Things have changed, we are faced with a common enemy — impartial, unfeeling and of immeasurable magnitude — and it is no longer a time for abstractions. Now is the time to be cautious with our words, our opinions.
A friend called our new world ‘a ghost ship’ — and maybe she is right. She has recently lost someone dear to her and recognises acutely the premonitory feeling of a world about to be shattered — and that we will need to put ourselves back together again, not only personally, but societally. In time we will be given the opportunity to either contract around the old version of ourselves and our world — insular, self-interested and tribalistic — or understand the connectedness and commonality of all humans, everywhere. In isolation, we will be presented with our essence — of what we are personally and what we are as a society. We will be asked to decide what we want to preserve about our world and ourselves, and what we want to discard.
Eventually these questions will become of acute significance, but they are not for now. Now is a time to listen to those in more informed positions and to follow instructions, as difficult as that may be, as we step into the unprecedented unknowable. We should be careful about the noises we make — especially those with a public voice — and should not pretend to know what we do not. From within the clamour and tonnage of information and misinformation, of opinions and counter-opinions, of blame-games and grim prophecy and the most panic-inducing version of ‘Imagine’ ever recorded, emerges a simple message — wash your hands and (if you can) stay at home.