A Letter to Superman Concerning COVID-19 Pandemic

Parlindungan Pardede


Dear Superman,

Greetings from Indonesia.

I don’t have your address in Metropolis, USA. I also do not have your email address. So I decided to post it on this blog. By so doing, it will travel all over the world even faster than your remarkable super speed. and reach you soon.

I wrote this letter on the seventeenth day of staying at home, a national call in my country meant to prevent further spread of the highly contagious disease caused by COVID 19. This preventive action seems very effective to help reduce the spread of the lethal virus. I hope the ‘stay, work, and pray at home’ action can stop the pandemic soon. It has been causing so many devastating psychological, social, educational, and economic effects.

Superman, my friend (May I?). Do you know how COVID 19 pandemic has seized much of our happiness? You know that we, Indonesians, love to gather with our family members, neighbors, relatives, and friends (of various circles, like school mates, church mates, and so on). One of our happiest moments is when we shake hands with each other, talk about many things, sing and dance and enjoy foods together in various forms of formal and informal gatherings. But since COVID 19 outbreak, we practice physical distancing, which means no handshake, no hug, and wearing masks while talking to others in more than one meter away. I was told that some grandparents were enraged because they were prevented from hugging their grandchildren. Many senior citizens even have thought they are not loved anymore because people around them ‘refuse” to handshake with them. When we asked them to greet each other by bowing like the Japanese, they say it’s not a way to greet. If such physical distancing lasts longer, I’m afraid many people will suffer from a loneliness epidemic.

Stay at home program has also affected our children learning. Our schools do try to replace in-class learning with distance learning. Students who have been used with online learning might encounter any problem. But, what about those who have never experienced it? Many mothers, who suddenly have to be real teachers, become exhausted to deal with the lessons and learn how to do online learning together with their children. Some of them say, “Teaching these kids for ten days has ‘driven me crazy’. How can their teachers do it throughout the year?” What is more, not all children here have got proper online learning tools, and some remote regions cannot yet provide proper internet access. The longer this epidemic occurs, there will be more and more constraints in our children’s knowledge and skills development.

Despite its effectiveness to curb coronavirus spread, the stay-at-home movement cannot accommodate millions of people working in informal sectors and casuals like side street dealers, online drivers, bricklayers, and grocery store assistants who should get out of their homes as their jobs cannot be done remotely. Many of them say, “This is dilemmatic. If we go out to work, we can possibly get infected and die. But if we don’t go out, my family and I will starve and die.” It becomes more complicated because these people are accounted for more than 55% of our country’s workforce.

What is more, the number of coronavirus victims keeps on arising. …

To read the complete letter, please click here.

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