Three quarters of a century of good times have fatally weakened our society.
In a fine attempt in the London Daily Telegraph to fathom the idiocy of the Biden administration’s mishandling of its Afghanistan withdrawal, Calvin Robinson quotes an excellent epigram by former US Marine G Michael Hopf; “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”
This applies in spades to the Covid epidemic. The years since 1945 have been, for most of the western world, unprecedentedly good times, to the extent that large numbers of our populations have barely any personal experience of hardship, let alone of a threat to their lives. We have come to believe that this is the natural way of the world, and not the extraordinary, and extraordinarily rare outcome of the efforts of the strong men who, until 1945, ran the world and fought its wars. We now elect politicians who pander to our delusions about the world, rather than leading us out of them. We have become, as a consequence, fatally ill-equipped to deal with the rude awakening that Covid has brought – the bad news that bad stuff can still happen, and that it may, just possibly, kill you.
Here in NSW, Gladys has finally come out and said that Zero Covid is an “impossible task”. While it’s welcome that she is at last beginning to prepare her maniacally risk-averse citizenry for what she must now see as inevitable – the winding back of her ruinous lockdown policies, and the rise in Covid cases and deaths this will bring, it’s fair to ask, ‘if now, why not then?’
Why, with all the evidence from around the world of the futility of lockdowns, did she allow herself to be painted into the corner from which she is only now beginning to extricate herself? Why was it necessary to burn billions of dollars and immiserate her citizens, before bowing to an inevitable that was obvious, to anyone with the courage to see it, from the start?
The answer must be that the strength and courage she appeared to show in 2020 – her willingness to face down the craven bleatings of her southerly and northerly neighbours, were in limited supply.
Weak men, indeed. Weak women, too.