Listen to this essay read by the author.
Closeted but not isolated, everyone will have a story, so there’s nothing special here. But the common difference is clear. When it’s about Brexit or Trump there, it’s us to them; when it’s bushfires here, it’s them to us. We have been globally entwined for decades, but the economic and political truths are mostly covert. It’s taken Covid-19 to put us all overtly at the same risk at the same time.
For me, in the first weeks a world of words and friends opened up. In Tokyo they’re doing well at first: a culture of respect and teamwork as opposed to individualism. It’s what scientist and resilience champion Brian Walker calls the ‘we’ society versus the ‘me-me-me’: more from him later.
Our Tokyo colleague is in her eighties and has been unwell, but she’s used to being isolated in her tiny space. ‘I have no work now,’ she writes, as if she expected to be still working at this age. It’s what I expected of her, the indefatigable entrepreneur. The colleague in Brussels is not as old but has been unwell for some months and is also used to being confined to her apartment. She says people can come over. She expresses her concern for artists, ‘the last in the chain’ and, with a typically broad view: ‘Human hubris is knocked out, and I’m sure this was high time.’