Opinion. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people might realise how privileged they usually are.
‘‘Quarantine’’, the omnipresent word of the season: not only individuals but whole countries are isolating themselves and shutting their borders to non-citizens – regardless of who has the most powerful passport. For many, there is a sense of discomfort caused by this restricted freedom of travel – often not because they actually plan to travel abroad soon but because they feel uncomfortable with the knowledge that they could not spontaneously travel to a large variety of countries.
When talking about this shortly before I left Ireland, an Irish woman exclaimed: ‘‘This talk about borders is so crazy! In my whole life I have not heard people using the word ‘borders‘ as often as in the past week.‘‘
Although said in passing, this remark got me thinking. Why do so many Europeans seem to focus their fears on canceled holiday plans and a possible toilet paper shortage? Is there really a place for tourism right now?
Many Europeans are not used to closed borders and a restricted freedom of travel within their own or neighbouring countries – either because they are too young to have experienced this or because it happened too long ago. Suddenly being put into this situation can feel strange.
And yet, Europe’s temporary travel restrictions are the norm for many other countries – often combined with more restrictions and limitations up to oppression. This is a fact that white people with a powerful European passport can, if they wish so, easily ignore.
Until now. Welcome to your free trial of what many people go through everyday. Let’s use this in a positive way, as an eye-opener, and not forget it once this is over. Unfortunately, people tend to sympathise with and care for problems more, if they have experienced them or at least something similar to them. Hopefully, afterwards people will still remember how severe of a problem this is in many people’s everyday lives. Hopefully, this leads to a new awareness. Hopefully, this can be a positive side effect of a horrible situation.