One of my favorite movies as a kid was Independence Day (here in Israel it was known as The Third Day, as it takes place on July 4th, and, well, most of the world doesn’t celebrate independency on that day). Briefly, it tells the story of an alien invasion to Earth, and how pretty much the entire human race unites in its do-or-die battle against the extraterrestrial colonialists. The fiery speech of President Bill Pullman still echos in my head: “The 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared […] we celebrate our Independence Day!” (hmm… I guess sticking with the original name would’ve make sense after all).
This movie is a classic heroic-fantasy, depicting us, mankind, uniting against a common foe while putting aside all other conflicts. “We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests”. Ever since I was a kid, I believed in that sublime concept — nothing is more important than our survival as a race, and everything else is disregarded when we must unite. The ancient Greeks did so every four years in honor of the Olympic Games — we sure can do it too if it’s our survival at stake.
And then COVID came.
I’m writing these words about one and half years since the very first known COVID-19 case, and almost a year after it became a global pandemic, affecting everyone, everywhere. I don’t need to elaborate on the outrageous costs these plague has taken — and still takes — from all of us, economically, socially, and of course, in death toll. In fact, I don’t want to talk about this. I want to talk about our ticket out of this.
Vaccines. If about a year ago no-one knew who makes the drugs and medicines we all consume, or how are these being tested — now, Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are the new Google, Facebook and Amazon on our everyday chitchats. The different stages of testing and production of COVID vaccines are followed and watched similarly to an announcement of a new iPhone. And they’re here — vaccines are available, being produced and shipped to the entire world, to save us from COVID. These vaccines, the new medical wonder, are also highly effective, with an almost-perfect 95% efficacy rate. But, when I first heard that number — 95% — it felt like it rings a bell. There’s another thing that provides 95% efficacy against the Coronavirus, and we had it here since day one.
Masks. F*cking masks. Doctors and medical staff were quoted saying that wearing a mask and keeping a 2-meters distance can reduce infection by up to 95%. Yes, just like a vaccine — but there’s a catch: everyone must wear a mask. Everyone. When the outbreak begun here in Israel, I clearly remember seeing an interview with a high-ranked medical doctor stating that if everyone will just put a mask on their faces and follow the guidelines — it’s all over within 3–4 months. Oh, the optimism.
Think about it. It could have been all over, long ago. We could’ve been traveling again, fly abroad to wherever we want. We could’ve been back in our offices and stop working from Zoom. We could’ve kept our jobs. We could’ve kept our families intact. We could have kept our families alive. But we didn’t. We got consumed by our petty differences. We made it political by asking if we can or cannot be forced to wear a mask. We embraced a juvenile behavior, playing hide-and-seek with law-enforcement. We searched for breaches, trying to outsmart everyone else. Some even argue if this plague is real or just a hoax or a conspiracy. We blame the Chinese, the British, the government, the President, the World Health Organization and the people next door. We do everything but the one thing we needed now more than ever — to unite. And wear a mask. To understand it’s not about if the law can or cannot — it’s about our lives, our future, our health. Simply about us, in all perspectives.
But that’s not going to happen, and you know it just like I do. We won’t unite even now, when mankind has a mutual nemesis. Which is exactly why I rushed to get vaccinated — I no longer trust our society to keep me safe, so I prefer to inject that new synthetic mRNA formula into my arm. And I wish I wouldn’t feel like I have to, but I do. I wish I knew we’re all in this together, but this too, I guess, only happens in the movies. And if there’s one thought that keeps bugging me lately, it’s this — I really do hope that there won’t be any alien invasion any time soon, because boy, we are doomed.