Clarifying my Reflections on Covid 19 in a recent post – Covid and me: Do what you are told – Rodney Eivers.
Dear Brigid, Lesley, Margaret and Wayne, and others who have responded to or thought about my recent post.
Thank you for going to the trouble with your detailed and well thought out response to my reflections on the impact of Corona virus and its relation to our decision making in times of national and individual stress. That you have bothered to make a comment I count as a blessing.
I have the impression that some of my commentary may not have been clear, particularly as to where I stand personally. Perhaps I was being a bit too subtle and seeking to be balanced as to how other people might react. One reader – not a UC Forum viewer – took the article as implying my support of the anti-vaxxers approach. That, I hope you will have recognised, is far from being the case.
So, in further explanation and at the risk of seeming defensive, let me expand a little on some of the content of the article.
Brigid: Certainly, if we are caring people as I assume all people subscribing to this website would be, concern for others matches, perhaps sometimes exceeds our concern for ourselves. One of the points I was making is that unless we care for ourselves in choosing how much risk of infection, we allow we are not going to be of any use to others if we go down with the disease. One is reminded of the safety measures broadcast on any aeroplane flight. “If there is an emergency and you have children you are responsible for, make sure you supply yourself with oxygen before you attempt to meet the child’s needs.” Similarly as we are finding with the catastrophic corona virus situation overseas, if the doctors and nurses are not kept alive with their PPE gear, they are not going to be available to their patients.
Lesley: Good points there about different courses of action for different situations. One has a greater obligation perhaps to take less risks if one is a middle-aged person with elderly parents in a nursing home as against a man or woman in their early twenties with young children who can drive them barmy when constraints are applied severely to what they may or may not do. And then to your final sentence, how much can we trust the particular authorities we come to be saddled with – more on that below.
Margaret: Following on from my final comment to Lesley, “How much can we trust our governments?” We could have had a Boris Johnson who branded it (initially) I think as a bad case of the ‘flu. Or Donald Trump, “Corona virus goes away with the heat”. It is noteworthy that our relative success in Australia has been because we trusted the technical experts who gained their knowledge through empirical research; not the politicians or the social media postings. The Government medical officers have become such a familiar sight on our screens over the past year that we can recall many of their names, Jeanette Young, Paul Kelly, Brett Murphy, Sutton, Cheng, Chant and so on. This still leaves us as individuals to “do our own research” and be choosy about the persons or sources we use for our information.
Wayne: To some degree I agree with you. Although this is a matter of opinion (in line with my representation of Maslow) that ultimately (despite the example of risking life in wartime, for instance) survival remains the base need for people in normal circumstances. We have had examples of this in Australia this year when a number of commentators have claimed that the unexpected electoral success of people like Anastacia Palaszczuk and Mark McGowan – perhaps even Joe Biden – occurred because a significant part of the electorate cared more about their physical health than about the health of the economy. From the news reports over the past 24 hours, it seems that this fear has been evidenced in Queensland. Observations of the streets of Brisbane, including my own at Sunnybank Hills, have shown a remarkably willing uptake of mask-wearing in Greater Brisbane.
General: I hope I have made myself a bit clearer above. I had originally intended to extend the theme of what I was writing but the posting seemed long enough so I left it at that.
So, I’ll go back to the initial conversations which prompted this reflection. That is, with the attendance at a crowd gathering or the decision whether or not to hold a church service, I observed a contrast in attitude. One was that “the Government has been constraining us but now that they have made it legal to take more risks then we might as well take those risks.” The opposite, as touched on by correspondents above is, that “there is still a risk and dependent on circumstances such as age of close relatives, perhaps worry about mental stress of confinement, the need for employment etc, etc. we still have some choice in the matter, whether it is legal or not”.
Then to make the more general point, this applies to other areas of life. Some people wait for the government to say what is right or wrong. Others of us make our own decisions in terms of our own values and may be “ahead” of the government. Acknowledgement of climate change and environmental pollution are two very live current examples. Many of us in Australia may consider that our governments are too slow to act on alleviating these. We, especially in a liberal democracy such as Australia, still have the opportunity to make up our own minds and do something about it rather than waiting for Governments to give us the green light.
Another application , in the matter, very relevant to this UC Forum is in regard to religion. Orthodoxy (right opinion) lays down the “correct” answer. Liberal/progressive religion leaves it more open and seeks to live with the questions and fit answers to changing circumstances.
Again, thank you for your correspondence. I value it highly.
A PS (Sunday 17th) Having just returned from a holiday on the Sunshine Coast (no mask required) to our suburban Hot spot, Sunnybank Hills, (mask required) and experienced the contrasting environments I would firmly acknowledge with gratitude the strong steps our Australian governments have taken to protect their constituents. To face the daily risk of infection and death that our fellows in other countries have to do must be very demoralizing indeed.