• Blaming the Government

    It is surely now apparent that the covid pandemic constitutes a world-wide and potentially existential threat to humankind. Individual countries have had some success in limiting its impact for the time being – and New Zealand has had more success than most in keeping it at bay.

    But we must now recognise that we are going to have to live with the virus for some time to come, as it swirls and evolves around the world . The virus itself – and the measures we are obliged to take to combat it – are bound to have an adverse impact on each one of us for the foreseeable future.

    We already know that every aspect of our lives will be vulnerable to the changes that the virus dictates. It will change and restrict every aspect of our usual pattern of behaviour. There will not be a single life that is not affected – usually adversely – by its presence. Every aspect of our normal lives will feel its impact.

    Surprisingly, however, there is no shortage of people who see these inevitable consequences as something that they have a right to be protected against. The virus is all very well, they seem to say, but we are entitled to lead our lives as though nothing has changed.

    Such people resent the incursion of the virus into their lives, and they seek someone to blame. Because the virus itself cannot easily be put in the dock, they identify the government as the most obvious – and all-purpose – scapegoat.

    However unpredictable the virus may be, they say, we elect a government to ensure that our own individual lives can proceed as normal. If we suffer any discomfort or inconvenience, if we suffer economic loss, or less effective medical care, or some loss of freedom of movement, then we will blame the government, rather than the virus.

    Isn’t it time that we grew up, and acknowledged that grappling with the virus, and trying to mitigate and minimise the damage it does, is inevitably going to test government (along with every other human response) to its limits. Our responsibility is to work with the government and to use our own efforts to help produce solutions; sniping from the sidelines (which some find all too easy) can only make matters worse.

    Bryan Gould
    17 August 2021

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