Saturday, 13 June 2020

Eighty Nine Days of Being Closed - Popular?

We all need to feel loved. It's a deep desire set in the very heart of us. But there are times when we need to make hard choices.

At the start of this crisis there was very little recent experience of handling a serious virus outbreak in this country. Our expertise was limited to annual flu outbreaks. There'd been recent deadly epidemics in the far east. There had been ebola in Africa.

To be honest we were caught out. Too confident that we were in control. The family of corona viruses had not previously produced a lethal killer. Somehow we underestimated what this tiny virus could do. Now we are living with the consequences of decisions made in those early days of our reaction to the pandemic.

Obviously it's too soon to be concluding that we failed to respond as we should. Yet as we see the countries who acted decisively to keep the virus out and limit its spread start to re-open again, it's hard not to feel that we have messed up at least a little.

In Rwanda they had one case and they ordered a lockdown the next day. So far they've had 541 cases and two deaths. New Zealand went hard and fast and are now watching rugby matches in packed stadiums. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But we need to learn the lessons that this crisis has taught us.

It seems to me that where leaders wanted to remain popular the crisis has been handled less well. In the USA, in Brazil and in the UK leaders who wanted to protect the economy against short term pain have caused much longer term damage in the end. We kept our borders open for far too long. Trade came before the lives of ordinary people and the safety of the frontline workers. If our government had gone further with restrictions as they did in France, Spain and Italy we would be further down the back of the curve by now.

It didn't help that most of those making the decisions went down with the virus themselves. They failed to protect themselves just as in the end they've failed to protect us. There will be a huge inquiry and people are upset and angry. We see this anger and frustration spilling onto the streets in protests and demonstrations already.

In the end that anger will be turned on those who created the plans and the policies. They didn't act decisively but delayed and dithered. Sometimes you have to make hard choices as a leader. Choices that are not popular at all.

Many people criticise the God we seek to follow because of the hard choices that were made in the Old Testament when the impacts sin were corrupting the of whole creation. That same God made the choice to send his only son to die for us on a cross. Jesus chose to die in the most dreadful way, alone humiliated and the object of scorn. When the enemy is a deadly foe tough decisions need to be made. They won't always appear to be the right ones and they won't always be popular.

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