If the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic has taught me one thing it is how privileged I am. As a white, middle class man working in tech I have it pretty sweet.
Yesterday I had my first COVID-19 Vaccination. Another privilege. I just had to walk the one and a half miles from my house in South London to the Vaccination centre to take advantage of the wonders of modern medicine.
It is my habit when walking to pick up plastic waste from the streets. Here’s what I picked up on my three mile round trip:
Give me convenience or give me death
The title of this Dead Kennedys compilation album rings out in my head on an almost daily basis. As a species we have privileged our convenience at the expense of pretty much everything else. The plastic waste I collected is a by-product of convenience; bottle lids, lighters, forks, cable ties etc.
So apart from picking up this trash en route to get my jab, what has this got to do with vaccines?
When it comes to our own well being, our survival as a species, we can move heaven and earth. We can put in place a mass vaccination programme that works. We can create the vaccine itself. Then we can get people in place to administer it. We can get the word out, get people to their appointments and get the population protected.
In doing this we are privileging ourselves as a species whilst we continue to show scant regard for the rest of the world. Is there any other species who litters its home with such casual abandon? Is there any other species who uses the most durable of materials, plastic, to facilitate the most transient of conveniences?
The pandemic has shown that when we need to we as a species can affect behavioural change. We are privileged to have the means to do so. What will it take for us to start using that privilege to look beyond humanity’s immediate well being and think about the wider world?