First World Problems

Fun Fact

Times of Israel reported yesterday that Israel’s homophobic health minister Yaakov Litzman, member of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, who had earlier claimed that the Coronavirus was the divine punishment for homosexuality, tested positive after flouting his own lock-down to attend group prayers despite the ban on the public congregations.

As a friend of mine commented, congratulations on such a spectacular coming-out!

Coronavirus keeps slowing down; the average number of new daily cases has been decreasing for thirteen days in a row and this is good news.

Let’s give a look to the chart below.

The green line, representing the average difference of new cases and closed cases, is headed down and its value today is around 2000. The red line representing the average sum of deaths and healed patients have been almost flat over the last few days, I don’t understand why. When the green line crosses the 0, the number of infected people will start decreasing. It took around six days to go from 3000 to 2000, will it then take twelve days to go down to 0? 

Some days ago, someone forwarded me an article titled “Social distancing is a luxury”. The content explained that, while first-world country are today devoting lots of energies to roll-out and enforcement of social distancing measures, the concept of social distancing does not translate well to countries that co-exists with chronic overpopulation of urban areas. New York City is experiencing the impact of high population density on the spread of the virus. But its concentration is nothing compared to Manila, where over four times as many people share the same amount of space; Dhaka, where three times as many do; or Nairobi’s Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, which with 300,000 people per square kilometer, has nearly 30 times the density of America’s most crowded city.

In other words, social distancing is what I call a “first-world problem”.

I define first world problems as “problems that those who aren’t luckily born in a first world country would LOVE to have”. There is no better occasion than a global pandemic locking us in our homes to take a few minutes to think of first-world problems, and I want to illustrate the concept with a real-life example. 

Yesterday I did something that I have not done for a long time: I cleaned my apartment from the ground up, including washing clothes and bedsheets. Since I moved here years ago, these chores were done by my Philipino domestic helper, but with lock-down in place, she cannot come anymore. I used to wait impatiently for that little weekly miracle: the moment when I came home from work on Tuesday and I found my place shining clean would always sparkle joy inside me. My helper is an energetic and good-humored woman. She sends all the money she gains back home and she managed to pay for education and university for a small army of sons and daughters. I dearly missed her yesterday, while sweating out to mop the floor or hang clothes to dry. I was also worried that my co-workers may have tried to reach out to me while I was cleaning and my absence from my home workplace would have been badly perceived. 

First-world problems = problems that those who aren’t luckily born in a first-world country would LOVE to have

My Philipino helper is a hard-working person but she does not complain: in normal times, she works for 7-8 different families. She commutes from her place in the North to their houses and back home at the end of the day. She very rarely flies back to the Philippines to see her family. Today, the island is locked-down she cannot work anymore and has no income. She is a generous person and I am sure that she does not have many economies. It is hard to tell how long this situation is sustainable for her and when I called her on the phone a few days ago she was stressed, but she did not complain. We agreed that I will sustain her somehow in this tough period; it feels like a drop of rain in the ocean, but when the ocean is running dry, every drop can make a difference.


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