Pause, reflect ... and collaborate
“We have found the enemy, and it is not each other.”— Heather McGhee, The Sum Of Us
This could easily get out of hand — and here I am referring not only to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has that potential, but to the ways in which people are reacting to how we are required to live, and to cope, in these extraordinary times.
We see and hear daily, here and elsewhere, some of the visceral responses for and against — almost all of them decidedly unhelpful, if not so much for their content, but for the equally strong reactions they tend to evoke.
Civil discourse? Hardly.
The pity is that we cannot just hit the “pause” button, step back and reflect on what is at stake here. This is a matter of public health, which also happens to be global in scope and in reach. That is and should be of concern to every member of the community we call home — and by and large it is.
The concern here is not the absence of unity of thought on how we address Covid-19, but rather of what appears to be the absence of an underlying sense of community, of belonging, of that we are all in this together, for better or for worse, and that accordingly we need to be mindful and respectful of the principle that we bear a responsibility one to another to look out for each other.
Too preachy? Perhaps.
Mind you, I never thought I would be writing again so soon on this damn disease. Yet here we are — and given the mounting evidence before us, here and elsewhere, it does not look like it is going to go anywhere anytime soon. On the contrary, we may need to settle down and adjust for the long haul.
What is going to matter, then, is how we cope and adjust to that which is confronting us and, perhaps just as importantly, how we accommodate each other where there are differing views. That has always been a challenge, as it is in any vibrant democracy, but this time the health of the community warrants that we adopt a better approach.
First, let’s admit that we are all stressed by the changes that this pandemic has wrought. Emotions run the gamut: rage, outrage, frustration, impatience, irritability. Readers can add to the list — and without the aid of a thesaurus. Who needs it when you live it, every day.
It has been economically tough, too; tough to make ends meet and tough just to make ends.
Second, no one asked for this pandemic, least of all the Government. It was not on anyone’s radar. Nevertheless, deal with it we must and as a community, we reasonably expect our government to take the lead and provide direction on a matter of national importance.
Our government is not perfect. None of them ever are; neither have all of its responses been perfect. But it has not been for want of trying, relying on the best medical advice available. Speaking for myself — and for a majority, I believe — we want our government to err on the side of caution.
We have the benefit, too, of seeing what is happening elsewhere where restrictions have been eased. It is not a pretty picture. Politicians there have had to reverse course. If cases continue to climb, whether here or abroad, there may need to be a tightening of restrictions. The push may well come not only for mandatory masks and SafeKey anywhere and everywhere, but for mandatory vaccinations for access to public places.
That said, now is not the time for extravagant language but dialogue and, as I have urged many times before, we need to put in place the necessary apparatus — in and out of the legislature — which helps to make collaborative engagement both possible and meaningful.
It’s all well and good to criticise, oppose, find fault and seek to score points — hallmarks of a healthy democracy? — but workable, viable solutions are what we need and what we should be working for. And to get there we need to start constructing some common ground.
Confrontational politics is so yesterday.
Finally, may your labour never be in vain. Pause, reflect and enjoy your Labour Day holiday.