Coronavirus, covid-19
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Is the honour system doomed to kill us all?

It starts small, in school, while prepping for the next day. Don’t copy off others we are told; no one will know if you do, but you will – and you’ve got your conscience to contend with.

Then years later – when in college or at work, the moral code states you do not take credit for someone else’s work. And yet, there are people who will.

If the exception is the rule, then in the age of Corona – when self-isolation, quarantine and cleanliness all can save the lives of others – are we all doomed to become mass killers? Murdering not because we don’t care but because we care more for some people than some others.

Wake up with itchy throat and watery eyes – do you, a) get back into bed and stay home? Or b) Pop a pill and continue on your merry way?


Stop the deliveries

How would this response change if the person you were going to see was your aged grandparent or sibling? How would it if you were going to a mall full of strangers?

We are all so worried about catching this bug – with an extraordinarily long shelf life; on plastics the COVID19 virus can live for up to 3 days – but if we had it would we think twice about the effect on others? Would we for instance, quarantined with a ‘flu’, or case of suspected COVID19 infection, tell the delivery person to leave food outside the door so he would be safe from our germs?

For many people, the virus doesn’t take on a tangible form – so far at least, if you are a healthy person, considered not so susceptible to it, but have contracted it anyhow, you may not show symptoms. In this case, how many could you infect before you stopped being contagious? The average is 5.

Stuffy times

So stay home, say governments. And in an act of truce, we stay away from one another, practice social distancing - mostly. We find new ways to amuse ourselves – for some, it is playing a musical instrument on a balcony so the neighbours might enjoy an impromptu concert, as is the case in Italy; or perhaps, to cook, to spend quality time with family.

For some who are housed alone, unused to solitude, fearing loneliness and stigma, walk (quickly) away from quarantine. This has happened a number of times- in India, some ‘quarantine runners’ were caught aboard a train. This need to flee isn’t born of a need to hurt another – few have that desire etched out in their genes. It is to protect their own sanity, their connections – their worlds.

Money, money, money

It’s also a battle of finances, as scores lose their livelihoods and their industries take a beating.(The United Nations estimates 25 million people could become unemployed before the COVID 19 pandemic is through.) Would you be able to stay home if it meant someone else, perhaps not healthier, but definitely more calculating went to work? There are only so many jobs, can you really afford to stay away so that someone else doesn’t fall ill? And if you could, would you?

There are 7.7 billion of us on the planet – can enough of us be true to the honour system that asks us to stay home when sick, to stay home when we can, to stay away when we want nothing more to head over to the mall/neighbours/friends/relatives’ homes?

Or we just a sloppy bunch in a messy world that’s doomed to share these germs? Is there any honour in the honour system? Or will it kill us all?