Opinion

There’s always someone doing it tougher

By Shepparton News

For the first few weeks of lockdown I didn’t know what to do with myself. There was no school, no sport, no parties, no going out; I mean, what’s there left to do? How on earth was I meant to keep myself entertained?

After 18 years of experience, I know better than to voice this dilemma to either of my parents.

It would only result in me being presented with a long list of jobs designed to ‘help save (me) from boredom.’ I’d end up like Dobby the house elf, doing slave labour. Now that would be real smart. I may be bored, but not that bored.

It got me thinking. Here I am, with the ability to go on walks yet I feel like I’ve got cabin fever.

What about those poor people in hotel quarantine and in the public housing towers in Melbourne who have dealt with being cooped up like battery hens for not one day, not two days, but two whole weeks.

I guess I wouldn’t mind some peace and quiet from my family for a few days. But my goodness, two weeks with just me and my imagination as company, I don’t know whether that would be a good combination.

Not even a nice, plush five-star hotel could make that experience pleasurable.

I recently read The Book Thief, and if we think doing hotel quarantine would be a tough gig, then that is sunshine and rainbows compared to what the Jews in Nazi Germany dealt with.

It provided some much-needed perspective that, yes, while it sucks I’m 18 and haven’t been able to go clubbing, it is truly trivial in the grand scheme of things.

At least I can see the sun and stars each day, something Max Vanenburg in The Book Thief was denied for months on end as he was hidden by a sympathetic German family in their basement.

There’s also Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert who has spent over 700 days locked up in an Iranian jail convicted in a secret trial of fictitious espionage offences in 2018.

This young woman, with her whole life ahead of her and with so much talent and potential, is being subjected to some of the most dehumanising conditions on the planet and will continue to be for the next eight years to complete her 10-year prison sentence. A harrowing reality which is almost too terrible to contemplate.

Us Victorians suffering under the draconian COVID-19 restrictions are getting a tiny taste of what life is like when freedoms are curtailed.

For the first time, many of us are gaining an appreciation of just how awful life must be in prison. (Note to self: always be good!)

The strain COVID-19 is having on many people’s mental health is considerable, although the restrictions are probably what a prisoner calls liberty.

Perhaps prisons don’t necessarily deliver the positive reform to some offenders as we might hope, rather it may only deteriorate their condition.

So I suppose what I’m saying is that when we think we are doing it tough, there is always someone else who is or has done it a whole heap harder.

I’m going to try remind myself of that next time I start complaining about the coronavirus.

Taryn Cameron is a Year 12 student from Tallygaroopna who writes about life in lockdown.