Time to act

What an extraordinary year it has been…

This strange world we’ve experienced over the last twelve months has generated some new words: ‘iso’ (isolate), ‘Covidiot’ (self-explanatory) and ‘hanitiser’ (a child’s rendition of ‘hand sanitiser’).

It’s also laid down some deep markers and divisions, which inevitably divide humanity into two separate camps.

In Australia, we’ve managed the pandemic remarkably well, as have our cousins over the ditch in New Zealand. America and England have mismanaged this crisis, resulting in the loss of too many lives.

Some leaders’ blatant disregard for this awful disease has cemented in my mind the appropriateness of calling them ‘Covidiots.’

While standing by that assessment, there is something insidious at work that reaffirms my cautious, at times sceptical, view of humanity, and a sense that at least I am on the rational and appropriate side.

One of the larger questions that life throws up is how to work for the greater good with those we dislike and disagree with.

I read an article in the Guardian today that I recommend. (You can find it at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/22/biden-wants-to-convene-an-international-summit-for-democracy-he-shouldnt)

Specifically, it concerns Joe Biden’s foreign policy options. On a larger canvas, it prudently points out that the major issues confronting the world today, climate change and the pandemic, require all nations to sit at the same table to sort them out.

The world can’t afford to exclude some nations. That requires a degree of openness to those we would prefer to label as ‘rogue nations.’

The writer of the article quotes John Lewis, a former US Congressman who opined that democracy was not a belief, ‘It is an act.’

The Covid pandemic has caused us to dive into our bunkers, literally and also in the way we think.

However, we now have the opportunity to emerge from our bunkers and act in ways that foster openness and cooperation.

I may have referred in a previous blog to Rutger Bregman’s ‘Humankind: A hopeful history,’ a book that is both enjoyable and confronting.

His basic thesis is that humans innately desire cooperation, but the rise of agriculture (dating back 10,000 years), urban civilisation and leaders in charge of so many people (far more than anyone could personally know) have led to war and discord.

I would like to believe that being cooperative is intrinsic to being human. I’m still not convinced, but John Lewis’ injunction to act strikes a chord, to act on the assumption that it might be true.

May the New Year bring many opportunities to test this out and verify it