Christmas Brings A Pause For Gratitude — Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager says it’s easy to look at the many pressing issues we, as a species, have to urgently deal with and feel overwhelmed. 

Hate speech, gun control, climate change, unemployment, poverty, housing, crumbling democracies. 

. .. But, rather than focus on this in the run-up to Christmas, I’d like to take a moment to express gratitude to the tens of thousands of people who have worked tirelessly to get the country through this crazy Covid year. I’m bound to miss some out, so please feel free to add your own list in the comments!

In no particular order, thank you so much to:

  • Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and the rest of the Ministers who calmly and systematically put our Covid measures in place, communicating every step and adjusting it as needed. I think it’s pretty clear by now they have served Aotearoa’s citizens extraordinarily well. I can’t even imagine the stress and exhaustion they must have felt as they juggled every aspect of our Covid response.
  • Our public health and medical officials, who gave the very best of advice to those making the decisions and delivered us a world-class public health response.    
  • The Ministry of Education who, in a very short amount of time, managed to send out resources to school children locked down around the country, and later worked to ensure that students’ grades didn’t suffer from the disruption to their year. 
  • The teachers from all levels of our education system, who shifted their lessons online, cared for those who still arrived at school, and adapted everything they’d planned to help their students through.
  • The communications people, from Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Dr Michael Baker and Toby Morris, to the team who put together all the Covid announcements, posters, resources, websites, alerts etc., so that clear instructions and information was available to all.
  • Healthcare workers, from critical care specialists through to GPs and nurses, cleaners, receptionists, rest home staff, laboratory technicians (who deserve an extra special shout-out) and all those involved in the care of those who fell victim to the virus or in preventing infection.
  • Mental Health professionals and services, who have dealt first-hand with the havoc this pandemic has played on some people’s mental health.
  • Food banks and marae – without whom many would have gone hungry.
  • The Defence Force, who have shown great restraint and goodwill in their role overseeing quarantine facilities.
  • MSD, MBIE and other government departments, who have survived a tsunami of paperwork to deliver timely payments to those in need.
  • Business owners, trades and delivery people who have adapted and still managed to provide services during an unprecedented time.
  • Churches and community groups who worked to support their local communities and ensure people were safe and not left feeling totally alone.
  • Supermarket and essential service providers, who set up safe systems and managed consumer overreactions with extremely good grace.
  • Media who asked the hard questions and did their job in holding the government to account.
  • The employers who held their nerve and kept on staff though the toughest days.
  • The iwi members who manned roadblocks to keep vulnerable communities safe.
  • Every person who checked on a neighbour or friend, shopped for someone vulnerable, provided comfort or raised the spirits of those in need.

For the good of all

What this experience has shown us is that, together, we can work for the good of all. It’s important we remember this lesson, as the future delivers us up a climate changed world where huge compromises and adaptations will be necessary. 

Yes, it can feel overwhelming, but we now have evidence proving that if we stand together and work for the good of all, we can make a real difference and mitigate the worst of the impacts on people’s lives.

May your holiday season be restful and happy, and 2021 bring relief for us all!

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