I’ve been self-quarantined here in my apartment, except for the occasional trip to the grocery store, for some time over two weeks. At first it was difficult. Not the actual alone part, but the idea that I could not come and go as I pleased. In fact, I became seriously depressed and shut myself off completely for about five days. When I started to recover from that little episode, I started thinking, asking myself what can I do to improve myself during this time. This led to expanding my thinking as to what will the Commonwealth learn to avoid situations and issues like this in the future.
I’m thinking in terms of taking care of our health. We often talk about our island paradise in terms of water sports and activities, beaches, sun and fun. But heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other major health issues are rampant in our communities. We also have a large senior community. These are the folks, those with underlying medical issues and seniors, that are allegedly affected the most by COVID-19. After this is over, will we encourage our man’amko to get out and be more physically active? Will we encourage our children to get out of the house and away from their video games and computers, to run and play outdoors?
Beyond our physical health, I’m wondering if we learned anything about government. I read that the governor has given instructions to lay off and furlough government employees. The governor, through OPM director Isidro K. Seman, told department heads that they “…must determine which functions of your organization can be eliminated or combined…and the minimum number of staff that must be retained to effect the retained functions in the most cost-efficient manner.” Shouldn’t that be the way the government works anyway? I think that is a lesson that should be learned.
While I’m on the subject of “reduction in force,” I want to know why we need a bicameral Legislature of 29 legislators to represent a population of 50,000 to 55,000? Perhaps we should apply that same layoff or furlough concept to the Legislature. Another lesson?
I also wonder if we learn the lesson about “putting all of our eggs in one basket?” When the COVID-19 world crisis has ended, communities that rely only on tourism will continue to suffer economic hard times. Those countries that supply our tourists will have to recover their own economies before tourists again take to foreign destinations. Perhaps it’s time to diversify?
Meanwhile, all of these glass and concrete structures that have popped up all over Saipan, in anticipation of great economic good times, will remain empty and become eyesores for a good many years to come. This is a lesson that repeats itself over and over again that we never seem to learn. I came here in 1986 to beautiful jungles and open beaches. It’s now 2020. The jungles are gone and we are now left with a bunch of empty and/or unused buildings that are nothing more than eyesores. Maybe we could invest in our environment and ecology?
Or will we do what we always do after a crisis and say, “we dodged that bullet” and go back to the status quo?
Fina Sisu, Saipan