By Steve Sloan
So we can deduce something about COVID 19 that I think is pretty much impossible to argue with – few of us got it right .
I certainly didn’t, I was seduced by the Flu comparisons, and absolutely didn’t see the surge characteristics that make it such a problem.
The Chinese didn’t get it right, early on they put pride before the disease and prioritised preserving reputation.
Some politicians made ill informed statements in haste that owed more to their political philosophy than to fact .
WHO didn’t get it right, at first .
But some have shown what happens when you apply humility, learned from it and learned quickly. The Koreans made some very good decisions early on as did the Japanese.
Mistakes are forgivable if they are learned from and that learning is acted upon
To an extent we can see some of that learning, but we can also see the mistake of not acting quickly enough and the failure of not learning from others.
There is lot of comment right now about not criticising Government as “ we are all in this together .”
That is lazy.
The challenge is how to engage critically but positively. Honest mistakes should not be punished, subsequent endeavour should be recognised.
Blaming is the most stupidly irrelevant response to this crisis. But so is glossing over failings when they are killing people .
People will look foolish some may look craven some will look incompetent and some opportunistic, that is inevitable, but creating the construct through which actionable truth can emerge is far more important than reputation .
So we need to recognise what the Chinese did early on was wrong but it is far more relevant to create an atmosphere where they feel less need to behave that way in the future and to engage their massive capacity, positively, as global citizens .
At home we should recognise the attempts now to get PPE and respirators and be proud of the astonishing efforts to create emergency hospitals but equally we need to question the behaviour and the motivation behind it that left us ( ironically) behind the curve on those issues .
Some nonsense and some invective will emerge and we need to see beyond that to the facts . There should be no hiding places but neither should we create the atmosphere where the knee jerk response is to hide and dissemble.
Because bugs will be bugs, getting out of this, ensuring if it happens again we work differently, is not about science it is about human behaviour. Political behaviour in this instance is life saving .
So we should challenge robustly when we see politicians trying to shift blame because otherwise we will not learn from our mistakes but we should also create the atmosphere where they don’t feel the need, and the 4th Estate has a massive role to play.
Quite possibly the phrase “ we get the politicians we deserve” has never had more meaning nor as much importance .