I took my toddler son to the playground as soon as it reopened. One day, we met an elderly woman there who asked if she could play with him. At that time, the borders were still closed and she told me how much she longed to be reunited with her grandchildren who lived across the border in Switzerland. She then continued to describe to me the difficulty of living in isolation. “But even more painful,” she added, “is to learn that so many people are suffering all over the world, losing their livelihoods and struggling to feed their families, all in the name of protecting vulnerable people like myself. Our children are deprived of experiencing the world firsthand, deprived of one of the greatest joys of this life, namely, to be in the company of good friends. Instead they are learning to fear an encounter with another person. We are so afraid of dying that we have stopped living, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I myself am not ready to die yet. But whatever fear of death I might have is really my problem. If I end up getting infected, what would be the point of blaming? Besides, there would be no one to blame, really. Nobody should be forced to sacrifice his or her quality of life just so I can feel safe. Feeling safe in a world without guarantee is up to me just as my health is really no one else’s responsibility but my own. If anyone wants to look after my well-being, I hope for it to be done freely and not because he or she was mandated to do so.” A few months later, I met the same elderly lady at a cafe, sitting in the sun and enjoying a warm cup of tea.
About the author: Katrina Tan Ulrich lives with her two-year old son and husband in Freiburg, Germany. For Katrina it is necessary to question all COVID protocols. “Are they healthy?”