Monday, August 03, 2020
Putting covid-19 into perspective
Just for a mental break. Source unknown.
Like most of us, I am still struggling a little with that rolling crisis that is covid-19. This is not helped by the increasingly clouded international environment.
On July 7 2020 I wrote It makes me proud to be Australian: short reflections on just how well the Australian system of Government and our people have worked in managing covid-19. This remains my view despite the new outbreak in Victoria. However, I have noticed that blame and blame shifting has started to enter the equation. That's hardly surprising. There have been mistakes, some critical. Again, that's hardly surprising. Fatigue is setting in, making it harder to respond, easier to blame.
Talking to a friend, she commented that Victorian Premier Dan Andrews needs to take a break. I think that's right. It's very hard to respond sensibly in the face of almost over-whelming tiredness. It need not be a long break nor does it need to be presented as a break, simply days to recharge, leaving it to others to present and plan. Something similar applies to Premier Gladys Berejiklian in NSW. She is looking tireder and tireder.
Tiredness cascades down from the top. Think of the health workers especially in Victoria who have been under constant stress. Tiredness leads to mistakes. They may not be able to take breaks, but we have to recognise that constant strain leads to error and longer term personal and structural problems.
At a purely personal level, I am finding the constant tension wearing and very distracting. I have become very tired of the sometimes breathless media coverage. It locks me in the present when I am trying to look forward. It gives me information and opinions that does not help because there is nothing I can do about it. There is nothing I can do to change what I am doing in ways that might help.
I have been working at getting my introductory course on the history of Australia's New England restarted. This has been a complex process. First, U3A Armidale had to work out covid-safe practices taking changing Government regulations into account. This placed additional responsibilities on all course leaders.
Then when the decision was made that U3A would re-open under the regulations for a covid-19 safe workplace, I had to survey course members to see who wanted drop out entirely, who wanted to continue, who to transfer to semester one next year. When the number who wanted to continue exceeded the maximum room numbers under the covid-19 rules, I had to wait to see if we could get a second room slot. That done, there was another round to allocate people to different groups and then check the allocations. In the midst of all this the new Victorian shut-downs with possible flow-on effects, raising the question of whether we could proceed or, if we could, whether people would want to come. After another survey we are proceeding, assuming no further changes in NSW.
In many ways, this is a minor local example of the complexities introduced by the pandemic. More people actually wanted to either drop out or defer than to continue, but the seventeen or so who wanted to go on were very enthusiastic. In the end, and I think that this is the important point, they felt that we cannot make life dependent upon covid-19. This does not mean breaching regulations, simply setting plans based on what we might want to do, then modifying if required. The alternative is to set plans based on ever-shifting regulations. It can't be done.
We can't control what might happen, we can only control our responses, doing what we can. I, for one, will not let responses to covid-19 dictate my life. Again, this does not mean breaching regulations, just taking a degree of control over my own responses. I have allowed covid-19 to distract me far too much, putting me far behind on the things I can do.
As I write, the news is on in the background. I know that all this is a big story, but after ten minutes I have learned nothing useful. The over-whelming message is be afraid, be very afraid. Enough!