The dispersed family suffers | FR24 News France


I don’t know how many times I’ve crossed the border at Surrey-Blaine; I know in my early 20s it was enough that when I drove north on Interstate 5 I could tell I was getting closer when the texture of the sidewalk went under my wheels, from smooth to wavy, like even if a highway budget from a long time ago hadn’t stretched to the end and I was driving out of the country. My frequent visits there shaped my attitude to borders in general, and I entered adulthood assuming it was my right to go anywhere. Over the following decades, the world only encouraged this notion, as technology has made travel ever easier for those of us with lucky papers.The first money has changed. Cash has vanished, electronic banking has grown, and traveller’s checks have become obsolete. The peseta, the franc and the escudo have disappeared. Cell phones arrived, but the first only worked at home; travelers hacked into the problem by swapping out SIM cards when their transoceanic flights landed. We have smartphones, Wi-Fi and the electronic boarding pass, one less thing to pack. Our money and our phones have converged on mobile payments.

Seven years ago Joe and I submitted our biometrics – fingerprints and irises – to the governments of the United States and Canada so that we could obtain our Nexus passes, in order to make entry into one or the other country even faster. In principle, I don’t like governments to store these details; in practice, I jumped at the opportunity to reduce the waiting hours at the airport. Every time I step forward to have my eyeball photographed, I feel like I’m just steps into the future.

This headlong rush towards easier travel has nurtured a world-is-my-oyster attitude among a growing segment of the world’s population. For some, it even encouraged intoxicating ideas about the withering away of the nation-state. That the British voted for Brexit, that the current US President has withdrawn at least 10 treaties, that Beijing has tried to assert its dominance over Hong Kong – these were warning signs that the march towards globalization was stagnating . But it took the pandemic for the borders to become real again.

Science fiction writer William Gibson, an American immigrant to Canada, is generally credited with the observation that “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” As the pandemic sent different countries in different directions, this uneven distribution seemed more and more acute. In February, my brother recounted all the changes in his daily life in Seoul. Masks on all faces. Men spent more time washing their hands. Her gymnasium closed, then her children’s daycare. His employer shifted hours to reduce overcrowding while traveling and had his temperature checked every time he entered a building. His wife once received a mass text from her office building, informing her that a family member of a worker in the same building had been tested for Covid-19. The result was negative.

Under Korean law, the Ministry of Health can collect private data on confirmed and potential patients, while phone companies and police share patient locations with health authorities upon request. I asked Gregory if any of these data collections bothered him. “Absolutely not,” he says. I asked why, and he said he trusted the government.

The changes he described seemed exotic and distant. But then, as America’s cities fell into chaos, my brother’s life became normal. It’s not the same as before, of course. Masks and disinfectants are everywhere, and he’s taken a vacation to the Korean countryside to avoid having to quarantine himself abroad. But the daycare has reopened, now taking a morning diary of each family member’s temperature. People go to restaurants and work. The country successfully held national elections in April. There are of course dissensions and the pandemic is still present. But relatively speaking, I feel like my brother’s world has calmly taken care of not dying, while in most of my interactions at home someone is breathless about closed schools. , loneliness, job loss or the sheer sadness of more than 200,000 deaths from American coronaviruses. I had gotten used to my brother and I living in different countries. Now we are even further apart.


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