Covid and Me: do what you are told.

Rodney Eivers, 8th January 2021

As the hours and minutes drew near to 6 p.m. on Friday 8th January 2021, for Brisbane’s short sharp lockdown in response to the corona virus I found myself strangely at odds with some of my family and associates. Given the advertised restrictions, some intended to carry on with a family meal with attendance to the limit imposed by the Government. In discussions with fellow officers of my local church congregation and pondering whether to go ahead with a church service normally attended by people in their 80s and 90s, the question put was not as to whether it was healthy or not but whether the Government would allow it!

Just as we have the contrast between the optimists and pessimists (some would say “realists”) in our society, I am finding a binary in our reactions to the virus.

One group wants clear limitations. You can’t do this or you can’t do that (perhaps grammatically better expressed as “you may do or may not do that”)  seems to be the major hinging point.

From my perspective, with some surprise, I found myself wondering “Hey, what is this all about?” I am not too concerned about what the Government thinks.  I am more concerned about the impact of the virus on me. This being the case it is up to me to decide how I respond in countering its potentially deadly effects.

                Of course, in some respects this puts me at the level of the anti-vaxxers. They are not going to be told what is good for them. But it can work in the other direction, too. That is that, rather than wait for the authorities to make the decisions as to what is safest for me as an individual, I may have the option of doing my own research and using my own experience in deciding what more promising action I might take.

                A specific example of this might be. The Government makes a ruling that it is “all right” to attend a crowded football or cricket match. Do I then say, “Good, it is now my duty to attend the football match even though there remains some potential for becoming infected. Some Governments, indeed,  have actually urged, or paid, for people to go to a restaurant or tourist resort during the pandemic.

“It will help the economy and it is the loving thing to do because it will keep people in jobs” they say.

                Or do I say, “It may be a loving thing to put myself at risk but I can’t be helpful to anybody if I am dead or permanently disabled from the ravages of the disease.

                It all comes down to priorities doesn’t it? What needs come first?

 I am a keen follower of the analysis of needs provided by psychologist Abraham Maslow, and I use this in day-to-day decision-making. Maslow sees the base need to be survival. I touched on this in my earlier article, “Better dead than Red?”

 When survival is assured  we go for security. Beyond  survival and security we give attention  to the more esoteric longer-term aims such as socialising, success and self-actualisation.

                Mind you, we don’t always follow this pattern. Clearly, attending  a football match or dancing at an intimate night club may meet needs having  priority over survival. Millions die in wartime through putting perceived security and socialising ahead of survival.

                So in coping with Covid-19, do we just do what we are told, more or less, or do we use our own informed judgement and experience to favour our individual  survival and thus remain available to play our part in making this world a better place?


5 thoughts on “Covid and Me: do what you are told.

  1. Brigid Limerick

    It is not actually our individual survival at risk which seems to come as a surprise to many people in this me- me-age. It is others survival that is put at risk . Stay well, stay heathy and do what you are told for a change!
    and keep donating the money you are not spending on going out to the Refugee Clinic at Indooroopilly Uniting Church. The need grows greater everyday. Thanks to all of you for your generosity. Brigid.

  2. Lesley Shaw

    The thing is: our responses to situations change with age and circumstance. Its no problem for me (at 86) to stay home; its no deprivation to miss a football match or a tennis match (in fact if I HAD to go to one I would feel very much put-upon); it’s no burden for me to forego coffee mornings (I seldom indulge anyway). In fact 2019 has been a great year for thinking, for coming to terms with things ( including religious problems) that have bothered me lifelong. When was there ever time – in a busy family, work, study, caring life to stop and really think? With my larder full, and no shortage of toilet paper (talk about sweating the small things !!!) I quite welcomed the thought of a lockdown weekend.
    But if I go out and catch CoVid my family may have to put themselves at risk to see to my needs – I would avoid giving them that extra burden.
    Lots of people including family offer to help me – do I need a grocery drop? Well I didn’t this time but sometimes it’s good to accept help – and sometimes you have to learn how to do this graciously – everyone (the giver and the receiver ) benefits.
    I have an elderly friend living in a unit complex who has avoided going out as much as possible (and then always masked) because she doesnt want to be the one to give CoVid to her fellow residents. She obeys the law to the letter – because of her common sense and caring, not because she’s knuckling under to authority- or that’s how she sees it .
    And of course if we are/were lucky or wise or responsible, we have placed in authority, people who will provide laws and standards and opportunities for us to act caringly and responsibly. Perhaps this discussion should take a few steps back….

  3. Margaret Ortiz

    I can’t agree that it’s a sensible approach to do what one considers right in these situations and I think it is a good idea to follow the directions provided by the government. The government has access to all information available and they do have a strategy so we should help make this strategy work. We should follow government instructions as our minimum guide. If we feel more care is required that is when we use our own judgement.

  4. wayne Crich

    I think you are speaking of two different things as if they were the same.

    There is firstly those things that are essential to prevent the spread of the disease and which it is desirable that all citizens follow.

    Then there are secondary but helpful things people can do to keep the economy rolling etc.

    This is compounded by the complete refusal of some to cooperate in any way with any request and who openly say “If it is not mandated I will not comply.” No where more evident than in wearing masks, simple, very minimal inconvenience but incredibly effective at preventing the spread of infection. In NSW compliance rate rose as high as 10%. So to get people to wear masks the Government needed to make it compulsory with fines.

    This has been made harder by inflammatory media reports always looking for the worst possible spin on every story and Governments operating with zero coordination and usually not making information readily available.

    So we are at the place to get compliance with any attempt to block the virus transmission having to be enforced with penalties.

  5. Mac Campbell

    Bear in mind that the best response of leadership to a disaster is to act immediately, strongly, at scale, and ahead of the evidence. Even if a patina of civic authority is supplied by “experts”, the most effective civic action takes place at scale before the evidence is in. In any group I’m always thinking, “who here is unlikely to comply in an emergency?” It matters.

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