It has been interesting to listen to the change in tone of the voice of our son, Tim, who works as a district palliative care nurse in Melbourne. He’s not far away from us physically. Increasingly he’s a long way away from how we live. Fear has re-entered Melbournite’s minds.
In that City one side of a street is locked down with medicos walking from house to house testing for Covid 19. The other side of the street is a different code zone and they are free to come and go as they please. Each day things are getting worse again.
In this mornings Economist the editorial argues that in the UK they haven’t got to the second phase of Covid 19; they are still in the first. Some towns are locked down as others are opening up. The messages from their political figures are mixed and jumbled. Here’s what the editor wrote:
The problem is that, without a cure or a vaccine, containment depends on people learning to change their behaviour. After the initial covid-19 panic, many are becoming disenchanted and resistant. Masks help stop the disease, but in Europe and America some refuse to wear one because they see them as emasculating or, worse, Democratic. Thorough handwashing kills the virus, but who has not relapsed into bad old habits? Parties are dangerous but young people cooped up for months have developed a devil-may-care attitude. Most important, as the months drag on, people just need to earn some money. In the autumn, as life moves indoors, infections could soar.
I have been bemused by various political figures in New Zealand, desperate to have relevance at this time, supported by the media as they attempt to build up the pressure to open our borders. Or the MP for Rotorua calling on one hand to open up the borders; and on the other hand complaining about Rotorua hotels being used to house people arriving in this country, and having a 14-day incubation there. Consistency doesn’t seem to matter to a media desperate for click bites or irrelevant MP’s.
I read further down on the Economist editorial and they wrote this:
Changing behaviour requires clear communication from trusted figures, national and local. But many people do not believe their politicians. In countries such as America, Iran, Britain, Russia and Brazil, which have the highest caseloads, presidents and prime ministers minimised the threat, vacillated, issued bad advice or seemed more interested in their own political fortunes than in their country—sometimes all at once.
Covid-19 is here for a while at least. The vulnerable will be afraid to go out and innovation will slow, creating a 90% economy that consistently fails to reach its potential. Many people will fall ill and some of them will die. You may have lost interest in the pandemic. It has not lost interest in you.
I spent some time recently in conversation with a friend who is part of the military. As I spoke to him, I wondered why the hell we didn’t get the military involved earlier on. It is so logical. We need an order and control approach to combatting any epidemic. We need to accept that our borders render us vulnerable. The braying mob who are calling for everything to return to normal are denying in their minds that what we are experiencing is the new normal.
It’s time for those of us who see freedom as being whatever we want to do, when we want to do it, to adjust our minds. It is “do not adjust your mind; reality may be at fault”, time.
If this is the new norm then we are going to have to change a lot of things. The economy will be quite different. Many of the shiny things which made some people rich might not be acceptable, or possible, any more. In fact, many things which made these people rich were mirages. Maybe its mirage removal time.
The military discipline which has been engaged is exactly what we need. It’s command and control time. The sort of normal, slack kiwi way of treating people who are supposedly in isolation, is over. The shock horror stories which Lisa Owen breathlessly shares with us on Checkpoint each night need to be snuffed out. I want to hear from people grizzling about what pricks the virtual prison wardens were at the hotel they were forced to stay at. And, that they were required to pay some of the cost of their accommodation.
Winston Peters quite correctly said to New Zealanders around the world “come home now”. I understand many couldn’t because of overseas commitments. However, many were stopped by our border control being confused, or just useless, and these NZers returning home finally have my sympathy. But some were just self-centred and thought they knew better than the authorities and they should pay. Let the military decide who fits into which category.
For the sake of the health of our people and our economy we need real discipline and real vision right now. We need to accept that it was collective action which has got us into such a good place, to acknowledge it, and to support whatever it takes to support our country and our people to stay in a healthy place.