Life Interrupted – 13

About two blog posts ago, I was going to stop writing this series on the pandemic – we were going back to normal and there’s only so much you can write about your cats or the existential dilemma brought on by the pandemic. And then the second wave hit.

Lockdown stage 4, has been extended by two weeks. There’s a furore because the Victorian Government is ruining the economy for everyone. When Melbourne went into lockdown again our PM said we are all Melbournians now, which lasted all of two minutes until he realised there was no political mileage to be got with unity.

Someone on twitter asked whether you felt Australian or Victorian. I definitely align more with my state than country, which is probably heightened because of the pandemic and watching Daniel Andrews front up every single day, doing his absolute best to get us through this.

The leadership in Australia feels like it’s not for me or about me. I’m not a conservative but it goes deeper than that. At some point the political leadership has taken a wrong turn, it seems like they don’t care about the most vulnerable in our community anymore; they would rather line their pockets with money from the fossil fuel and mining industries than take meaningful action on climate climate change and they have sold our souls for “safe” borders.

This week Scott Morrison said Australia was at risk of losing its humanity, which made me spit out my tea. It seems to me that we lost it along time ago, when we decided to arbitrarily lock up men, women and children in unending offshore detention. We lost it when we privatised nursing homes and understaffed them with poorly paid casual workers or when government after government failed to raise the Newstart allowance so people weren’t living in poverty. To name just a few…

Add to this the slogans, and obscuring and manipulation of facts to present the government in best light (not limited to the current government). And when journalists ask questions you get a bunch of pre-prepared talking points which they doggedly stick to regardless of what question is being asked.

It makes me deeply uncomfortable. It’s inauthentic, divisive and ultimately dehumanising. It’s like politicians are saying to us, you are unworthy of genuine interactions, we don’t trust you and your ability to understand that the world is complicated. It makes politicians less trust worthy; you forever feel like you are being manipulated and lied too.

Sure the Victorian government has failed badly – hotel quarantine, contact tracing and probably a few other things as well. Their roadmap out of lockdown is vague, if I was a business owner I’d be worried about the future. But as John Faine wrote in this piece we are more than just an economy.

It’s hard to feel anything other than fierce loyalty to my state, my city and its leadership right now. Even as the economics of the state look dire, it’s as if we we have become something more than that – like we have remembered that we are in fact a community that collectively rises or falls together.

Many people don’t like Daniel Andrews, his politics or his handling of the pandemic. Regardless of this, what is happening now is extraordinary leadership. In a world turned upside down, seeing Dan Andrew’s standing there in his North Face jacket is both comforting and the touchstone we all need right now. It’s like he is saying to us, the world is spinning out of control but I’m in here, I’m not going anywhere and it’s going to be ok.

It’s been six months since a global pandemic has been declared there have been 28 million infections and over 900000 deaths. By the end of October Melbourne will have endured the longest and harshest lockdown of any city in the world. But perhaps in taking away the trappings of our lives we have had the chance to come to the heart of who we are as a community. And maybe in a covid-19 normal world that gives us an advantage.

Melbourne’s motto is “Vires acquirit eundo”, which in English means “She gathers strength as she goes”. We are gathering strength now to come back and be bigger and brighter than ever.