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Xiu Hao Kuek

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The Uninvited Guest The world was approaching the end of 2019, preparing to welcome 2020, the year of new decade. 2020 was the year highly perceived to kickstart a new milestone of progress and advancement, it was truly hope-filled. It was also the festive period, with Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year to be celebrated all around the world. It was a festive season of joyful gatherings, reminiscing great memories with family and friends, a season of greetings, a season of new creation of friendship and bonds. The uninvited guest, Covid-19 first appeared discreetly. He came almost unnoticed, and not much attention was paid to it. We continued to celebrate. We continued to lead our lives as usual. It was probably due to the lack of resilience and accompanied by a high level of complacency, Covid-19 managed to make its presence felt in the world. The numbers were running high daily, and deaths reported at an alarming rate. No one knew who he was, or understand him well enough to know how to counter him. We took our time, we made our assumptions, we squandered off the precious crucial timeframe that were given to us. We constantly told ourselves “it’s not as bad as SARS, let’s not worry.”. We constantly told ourselves “ it will disappear on its own.” However, what the world witnessed was this guest took the world by a storm. Spreading to more than 200 countries, with close to 7 million infected, and 400,000 deaths worldwide. We were not prepared for this. With China being the 1st to impose a full lockdown, and several nations followed after that. Our lives — were totally overturned in a short span of a few months. Economies were badly hit. Jobs were lost. Suffering and deaths became imminent. Uncertainties grew. Conflicts arising, discrimination follows. The world was shaken awake to this impending crisis. The world was caught unprepared for the crisis. It was unprecedented no doubt, but it fully exposes flaws in the systems and surfaced the uncomfortable truth that the world refuses to acknowledge. Just to name a few — The lack of focus on people’s welfare, the inadequate crisis management of each country, the societal issue of racism, disrespecting human dignity and human rights… etc. The issue on racism and human rights became the top issues, evidently witnessed by the world, triggered by a series of events that saddened the world, like the death of George Floyd. These societal issues stemmed out from the self centred nature of the people today. The uninvited guest was not welcomed, but in my opinion, it was necessary. Unfortunately, it takes a crisis like this for the world to understand that there is so much we all have to work on. Economy may have been the priority for the longest time, it is also time for us to reflect, and realise that human lives are also to be equally valued. While the world is still recovering from the damages this guest have brought about, let us put aside petty arguments and continued to work and support one another during this period. People are suffering, people are stressed. The world has to learn, so do we. It is time for us to learn to be resilient and adaptable to changes. Only by being strong and hopeful ourselves can we provide hope to the others. We are global citizens, and our lives are interconnected in one way or another. Let’s all stand together, and be generous with our care and concern. If we can provide hope to just one more person each time, the world will be a better place eventually. Our effort counts. Thank you for the uncomfortable reminder to the world, uninvited guest. :)