Old people of all nations, unite! You have nothing to lose except your confinement cells!
Updated: Apr 12
This post was written together with Dr. Rina Omer
Maybe you have not noticed, but the plans that are been published almost daily on how to loosen the limitations imposed by the Corona-Virus are creating a new oppressed class: we, the old, the grandparents, the retired. The statistical models in vogue show that the restrictions on children can be gradually lifted, because they are not in danger, limitations on adults have to be lifted, because they are essential for the economy, but the old have to remain confined because they pose the chief danger of glutting hospitals and bringing the health system to the point of collapse. But it should be clear to us, that all this is done for our benefit, out of care for us, so as to keep us from the worst!
We believe the time is come for us to tell the decision makers, both those that favor persuasion or coercion: "Thank you very much! We'll decide for ourselves over the conditions of our release. We'll assume the responsibility for ourselves and will not bow to a paternalistic ideology that denies us the right to live decently!"
First of all we want to voice our needs and wishes. The most vital thing for us is to meet with our families, and not only by zoom. We want to see our children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins and friends, not only through computer screens but also in the flesh! We'll decide when we are ready to hug them safely, but see them we must! And we dare to demand that if we get ill and are in danger of dying, society has to find ways to make it possible for our dear ones come and say goodbye! We demand that means of protection be developed not only to push us into a forlorn and sterile corner, but also to come and part from us, if that becomes necessary!
We shall decide when and under what conditions to visit our families and not the official decision-makers! On Passover Eve, our friend Ana Guelman (70 years old) told us that she decided to drive and have the Passover Meal together with her family, in spite of the governmental veto. She wanted to be with them, of course, but perhaps the ultimate trigger to the decision was the official prohibition! Her participation in the Passover Meal expressed her protest. Passover is the Jew's Freedom Holiday and we should demand to feast freedom also from new forms of oppression, even those that were invented only yesterday.
We have found out that the functions and activities that filled our life with meaning, be it through our work, families, roles as grandfathers and grandmothers, friends and leisure activities have been badly curtailed. This is of course true for everybody, not only for the elderly. But on us the restrictions are much heavier! That's because the nucelar families continue living with the children in the home. The essential workers and even the less essential are active or being demanded back. Moreover, plans are being made to allow children to meet and do things together, even if under certain limitations. In the plans that are published daily, no such provisions are being made about us. We are supposed to remain secluded, so that we may not die God forbid!
We are told that this is only temporary. Soon there will be a vaccine. Indeed, we can surely wait one and a half year until there is a vaccine! And even then, vaccines are known to be much less effective on the elderly. Young people and adults can wait, they still have many years to live, but we don't know how many years are left to us. Our horizon is much shorter. To demand that we should wait is not at all the same as demanding from the young to do so! What we are being told, actually, is that in order not to die, we should go to hell!
So we declare: We'll invite our children and grandchildren and develop rules of safety that are right for them and for us. We'll invite our friends and meet with them, keeping the rules of distancing that are right for them and for us. And here comes the most scandalous announcement: We will decide when it is right for us to hug our children safely! Our son Michael heard our cry of distress and said: "We will loosen the restrictions on our own. We'll be responsible for ourselves. We'll come and visit you and when we feel the time is right, we'll hug. We'll not wait for official permission to do so! We'll not develop an allergy to hugs!" Those were the most comforting words that we've heard in a long time. Did you know that not only babies and children need human touch, but also the elderly?
By the way, we're both of us clinical psychologists and we've decided that in one week we'll tell our clients, that those among them that are willing to come in person for their sessions will be wellcome. We'll ask them to wash their hands and whether they don't have symptoms. But over and beyond that, we shall take the plunge and assume the risk. Isolation, meaninglessness and helplessness kill most cruelly. The angel of death can be much more merciful than that.
We do not encourage irresponsible practice. We do take care with our contacts. But we have the right to decide at what pace and in which ways we will release ourselves to more contact. It is unacceptable that there be one type of injunction for young and adult people and a wholly different set for the old. This is a crass discrimination.
You're invited to visit the site and view my other posts as well as get information on NVR (non-violent resistance): www.haimomer-nvr.com