Update: Just 6 hours after I published this blogpost I stumbled upon this tweet.
Which resulted in me joining Adriaan and a dozen others on Telegram and in join forces with BustByte to build Coronastatus.nl! Love the cooperation so far. Really distributed work! In the meantime more than 20 countries have implemented their own version of it (as it's fully open source)!
Time for me in the last weeks was filled with the circumstance and stress of trying to get home (we got stuck on the other side of the globe) while keeping our family safe (our youngest has a respiratory illness).
We didn’t come home, but we’re relatively safe.
So 15 minutes ago I finally had an hour to sit down and think clearly about the state of the world beyond just my loved ones.
We have a global pandemic, costing thousands of lives, breaking up families, bankrupting businesses and in the future will most likely cause a bunch more secondary effects we may not yet know of.
Hopefully, the pandemic will not last too long, irregardless, life will be different in many ways due to the cultural changes everyone will go through.
There are positive ones. Just think of everyone suddenly finding it OK to work from home, to teach online or to take more care of the elderly.
But also some that I feel are dangerous, like finding it OK to be surveilled, locked up or become more xenophobic.
I think there are two big priorities where we can still make a difference. The first and foremost is obviously helping people to cope and get through this pandemic with as few scratches as possible.
The second is purposefully changing the world for the better while it is in chaos. Now that lots of things change, it is easier for novel ideas to take hold. We NEED novel ways of solving existing problems to create a better life for us humans. The priority though, is helping alleviate suffering caused by the pandemic.
World War Three
The first problem, the COVID19 pandemic, is in a sense, no different than war. Yes, there are not that many casualties as in WW2 (yet), but the breakdown of society is as abrupt, for some as horrible, as a war.
So I thought: “What type of person would I have been in WW2, living in the Netherlands?” And I have always had the idea that I would be someone in the resistance. Maybe that’s because I thought it’d be cool or exciting as a kid. But I hope, and certainly feel, it is because I want to help my fellow humans.
You see, I think fighting an enemy in a war is not the purpose. HELPING other humans is the purpose. Sometimes that results in fighting an enemy, yes, but many times it does not.
Think of farmers sheltering Jews or other citizens bringing food to starving neighbors during WW2.
Yes, there is fighting on the front lines of any war. In this case, I think it’s the nurses, doctors and any other healthcare workers. But there are people helping in other ways too. Laboratorians, biologists, and chemists researching vaccines, grocery stores delivering food to the elderly, analysts providing information, and politicians, yes sometimes even politicians, trying to postpone chaos.
In the end, it’s not about fighting an enemy, it’s about helping humans. And I really like to help. I have experience and knowledge in the domains of biology, software engineering and education. There must be something I can do.
Wish me luck!
A quote that arises in my mind thinking through all this is:
From one of Brandon Sanderson's great novels Stormbringer."
I think it is more important than ever to be united as fellow humans in the coming years.