In mid-April I published a blog titled “Accept a little hardship”, written during my first of Three quarantine experiences in 2020 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID19. A hardship I accepted aware of how little we knew about this virus in the beginning.
Six months on I want to clarify my point. While I still believe we all need to be able to accept hardship for the collective good; I believe we are accepting it in the wrong areas. The goal of saving every single life is resulting in the destruction of the country as we know it. Destruction of our culture, values and beliefs. The destruction of what we stand for as nation, a destruction born out of fear.
Over the past 6 months I have frequently read on social media a statement that goes like this;
“Good work Premier, keep the borders closed, keep us safe.”
What this translates to is;
“I’m scared Premier, please keep my family and I safe”.
I’m not really surprised. The media has portrayed a bleak picture of the virus and governments have implemented some extreme measures that will have long lasting effects on the nation in their attempts to eradicate it until a vaccine is found. Measures it appears the majority of Australians are willing to accept because they are afraid of the virus and want to be protected by the government.
The question is, is our own personal safety the primary role of the government?
We can’t hide from COVID forever. Even if and when a vaccine is found it will undoubtably not be 100% effective. Furthermore, into the future we will surely face new viral threats.
Can we realistically save every life, forever?
As in every crisis or disaster, it is more important to preserve the collective. This is the exact reason we send soldiers away to fight and die in wars. To protect our way of life. It is why we accept and honour the 7,000 Australian defenders that died in the New Guinea Campaign during WW2. Because we didn’t want to just accept the Japanese way of life. Instead we fought and suffered to preserve who we are as people.
We cannot hide from COVID19 now any more than London could hide from the German Blitz in 1940 and 41.
Churchill and the English could have stopped the German bombing by simply surrendering but in doing so sacrificing their way of life and identity as a nation.
Recognising this, Churchill did as any good leader does; he led the nation into the uncomfortable.
Compare this to today.
We are surrendering to COVID19 hoping it won’t hurt us or those we love. We are accepting the new COVID19 norms and destroying what it means to be Australian.
The book Tribe by Sebastian Junger offers some context. Exploring an individual’s belonging to a society particularly in the time of crises, disasters and catastrophes like war or earthquakes; he explains how collective hardship can increase belonging and bring a community closer together while working towards the common good.
“Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary” he explains.
Why then, in 2020 here in Australia in the middle of our very own crises, does it seem like society is cracking at the edges?
Societal, economic and wellbeing issues are on the rise and concern for our leaders choices is growing.
I disagree that the leaders of the country are making the hard decisions. Instead they fall on the easy decisions, the convenient decisions, the popular decisions.
For a lot of years Australia has been the lucky country. Lucky because our safe and comfortable existence aligned with the best interests of the country. Unfortunately now it does not. Every time I hear a politician say “the individual citizens are my priority” I cringe. The individual citizens are not the priority, the country is the priority, Australia is the priority. And as Australians we need to overcome the fear.
The choices of today will be felt well into tomorrow and in our dogged attempt to avoid sacrificing the lives of the people of the nation, we are sacrificing the nation itself.
What we need now is leaders who can create a new paradigm. Those who understand the long game and can operate in an environment of fear and uncertainty. Those that can lead us into the uncomfortable reality that is best for the nation, a nation whose anthem proudly celebrates “for we young and free”.
“Through every generation of the human race there has been a constant war, a war with fear. Those who have the courage to conquer it are made free and those who are conquered by it are made to suffer until they have the courage to defeat it, or death takes them.” - Alexander the Great