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Today I officially came under the surveillance and control of the world's most feared political regime: the Chinese Communist Party. I will sleep better for it.

There is an expression about “living through history”. I am not quite sure what it means but I have the inclination that it conveys a sense of being there, of being alive, when the world changes. Dramatically, irrevocably. We have a before, and we have an after, and we are now in the period of transition.

 COVID-19 has revealed the flaws of weak, selfish and mindless leadership. It has also exposed the illusion of freedom that is part of the western ideal of democracy; choice. And here we are, watching, from afar as America descends into turmoil; all of that wealth, all of that power, all of that potential, being squandered. By refusing to put masks on, the masks are coming off.

I wear a mask because I care about you. You wear a mask because you care about me.  We wear masks because we care about each other. It is a paradigm shift in the selfish, me first, transactional philosophy of terminal greed and it takes us back to crises that have occurred before. How many of you are old enough to remember those inspiring words of a past president of the United States of America? From a time when American presidents spoke with a moral authority.

“Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country.” These powerful words came from John F Kennedy’s inaugural address and called for children and adults to embrace the importance of civic action and public service.

You can wear a mask when in public; avoid gatherings of people (social distancing); maintain social hygiene (hand washing). And observe how countries fare in terms of infections and deaths. There may never be a vaccine for COVID-19, there will be therapies that can ameliorate the clinical course. There will be more virus attacks in the future.

We are living through history. We are seeing some of the most blatant government corruption in the history of the modern world and the effects are there for all to see in the COVID-19 data.

This is a short letter. I send it because I do care about my family and friends in the UK. I had sister who emigrated to Australia many years ago. She told me that one of her greatest joys was to lie on her back in the garden with her good friends and look at the stars in the glorious night skies. A humbling reminder of who and what we are. I see hope in the stars. Take time to look at them.



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Andrew Burd (Prof)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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