Just what the doctor ordered
This is no lament for the way we were — now is not the time — but rather recognition of the way it is, and is likely to be for some time to come.
There can be few among of us who are not suffering exhaustion and/or fatigue and/or exasperation with the Covid-19 pandemic and all it has wrought.
The recent spike in cases and, sadly, deaths, has made the points that the Premier, the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer have been at pains to emphasise week in and week out:
Do not let down your guard.
Do not become complacent.
Keep those bubbles tight.
Wear those masks.
Sanitise hands frequently and keep your distance when out and about.
I willingly join this chorus and make no apology for doing so.
Politics and the usual politicking associated therewith can take a back seat. I have no doubt that those in the trenches, the frontline workers at the Ministry of Health, at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital — whether testing, vaccinating or tracing — are overstretched.
Remember: they have families, too, and fears and concerns that they have to put aside each day they go to work. They deserve our respect, our support and our co-operation.
That is not to say that there are not issues to which we must we face up as a community.
This past year, the Covid-19 virus has laid bare our strengths and weaknesses, and we need to build on those strengths and minimise, if not eliminate those weaknesses. Nothing wrong with a constructive analysis of the hard lessons we have had to endure. Our government could use that kind of support.
Let me make a start.
I begin with those weekly televised press conferences. I am inclined to say that they were just what the doctor ordered. CITV has once again proved its worth. It is critically important in times such as these that those in authority have direct access to the public. That is but one half of the equation. The other is a free and independent media to ensure questions are asked, regardless of how rough or tough. The public, which all parties serve, want to know.
There is nothing fake about the importance of this narrative. It is a working example of transparency and accountability in action in a democratic society.
We have also seen what social media and the internet can usefully do in terms of providing direct access, keeping people informed, and answering questions, for all to see and hear.
This leads me to a second point. We have also learnt that there is no internet access for all, which must become a national imperative. This is the new infrastructure on which we must concentrate — and not just in schools but homes. All homes.
Sure, a wide wired world also presents its challenges. Conspiracy theories, scams, lies masquerading as truth, and predators in sheep’s clothing abound. The one sound antidote for this, as it has always been for stupidity and ignorance, remains a strong education.
That, too, must continue to be a national imperative. Make no mistake, the economical efficacy of working remotely has not been lost on businesses looking to trim overheads and maximise efficiencies. But the silver lining here is the opportunity this presents for those abroad looking for an attractive home from which to work that is also safe and secure.
No question, though, that some heavy lifting is required.
The point has been made again in a way none of us wanted to see. It takes only a few who think the rules don’t apply to them and to spoil it for the rest of us — and, sadly, “spoil” is an understatement.
There are times when only swift deterrence is effective. Steps have to be taken to make prosecution and justice a whole lot quicker if the regulations are to have any bite. Those responsible seem to have lost sight of what should be a priority.
Finally, there is the hard lesson of the importance of setting aside money for the proverbial rainy day, individually and collectively (read Government). If there’s one thing each generation learns, usually the hard way, it is that you can always count on a rainy day. So plan for it — and take steps to mitigate and strengthen our financial position.
My lists are not exhaustive; space does not permit. Share your own examples online or write to me at email@example.com. I’m interested. I also promise to keep your real name confidential, if that is what you wish.
John F. Kennedy once famously said upon assuming the US presidency that the time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining. That’s true, but when it rains we learn where the roof needs fixing.