Mandy Hager asks: ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’
Watching the frenzy of ‘reckons’ on our Covid response that flood mainstream and social media each day, it brings to mind the kind of ridiculous mud-slinging and see-sawing hysteria in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, particularly the What have the Romans ever done for us scene.
It seems the government can’t win.
Undermined by self-appointed experts
At every step, they’ve been undermined by people who feel their own opinions are of greater worth than the experts, unleashing a shitstorm of hyperbole and misinformation.
The government locks the borders down and the opposition howls that it needs to be opened immediately. They refuse people in isolation compassionate leave and the baying for them to be released reaches fever pitch.
They shift up or down a level and the opposition argue for the reverse, as if on default, without taking any responsibility for the uncertainty and fearmongering they spread.
This latest case, with the two travelling sisters, is just another example. Anyone who thought we were never going to see another case of Covid in this country is simply naïve at best, and wilfully ignorant at worst.
A stuff up, but hardly unexpected
Yes, it was a stuff up, and, yes, it’s disappointing. But it’s hardly unexpected to anyone who is watching what is still unfolding overseas.
The fact that Michael Woodhouse’s first response to the information regarding this case was NOT to tell health officials, really says it all.
His focus, one has to assume from this, is point-scoring, rather than the wellbeing of New Zealanders.
It’s yet another example of ‘gotcha’ politics, where a ‘kill’ is the only objective, not the good of the country.
But this isn’t just the opposition’s modus operandi. We, the public, have to take some of the blame.
We behave as if we’re watching reality TV, every misstep eliciting ‘vote them off’, every success triggering over-the-top smugness and fawning idolatry.
Putting people or institutions on a pedestal has only ever guaranteed that they will inevitably fall.
What is the truth of all this?
I think most reasonable people would say that our government has done a good job, overall, protecting Kiwi lives.
They are taking steps to help ease the economic impacts and they’ve been front-footing additional supports and better processes every day.
Are they perfect? No, but at least they are prepared to claim their mistakes and work to improve their performance.
But is their intent good? Yes. They have taken a ‘people first’ approach that we should all be grateful for, and the opposition narrative that they should now take over because they’re better economic managers has no basis in fact.
Go look at the Christchurch recovery. Go look at historical debt to income ratios, housing, health infrastructure, workers’ rights . . .
Look at what’s happened overseas
Every time you’re tempted to slag off our government’s response, take some time to educate yourself about the situation overseas.
It is impossible to do so without feeling extreme gratitude for our own position at this time.
And, please, as the bullshit rhetoric heats up the closer we get to the election, look beyond the headlines and interrogate who is hoping to gain what and why.
Time to put on our ‘grown-up’ hats and stop acting like distractible, hormonal teenagers.