Truth in COVID-19 times

Truth in COVID-19 times

Friday, November 13, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The novel coronavirus pandemic has exposed the very soft underbelly of politicians throughout the world, and from those in office to those warming Opposition benches their true colours are now shining through.

For those in power, who are required to make decisions to protect the lives and well-being of their citizens, few have stood tall in the hurricane winds of this coronavirus. Most have wilted, whether it is Trinidad and Tobago, where they still have people jailed with a bungling repatriation system, or to the big boys like the United Kingdom, where Boris Johnson has cowed to pressure from within and locked down the entire country, rather than just areas which are hot spots.

The vast majority of leaders have simply toed the line and passed the buck to the World Health Organization (WHO) or Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), who themselves have not yet got a proper handle on what should not be done and what can be done.

First it was lockdowns, and then they had to backtrack because they realised that you might be saving lives but destroying livelihoods — therefore destroying the same lives you were attempting to save. Then they realised people's mental health was being compromised and that suddenly new problems were being created — depression, alcoholism, and even drug abuse.

Jamaica's Andrew Holness is among very few leaders who seem to have analysed the disaster holistically and then cultivated a practical approach that worked for their countries. Most have just lined up behind whatever the big boys did — whether it made sense or not — and locked it all down. Most politicians instinctively take action with the priority of holding on to office, as opposed to doing the right thing.

Few, very few have shown the intellect to understand that this battle takes place on two fronts; the first is to save lives and safeguard the health of our societies, while the other is to make sure our economies do not collapse and that people are not pauperised overnight. That means finding ways of existing in the current environment while allowing people to work and earn. Sadly, even fewer leaders have shown the resilience to stand by such measures, and their first reaction is always a return to the default position of lockdown – which is simply not an option.

Look at the USA, much of the panic is driven by media forces that need to have headlines they can run with.

On the other side of the political divide you have these selfish Opposition forces that would use this calamity to gain cheap political points, not once considering how it would impact the people they claim to want to serve.

Examples abound, including in St Lucia, where there appears to be little control over the dissemination of misleading or blatantly false information. All of this is exacerbated by large segments of the population who simply do not take time out to understand what is going on. Too many people are happy with being fed a story – doesn't matter if that story is accurate – and then running with it, their WhatsApp and Twitter feeds perpetuating the damage.

Everyone knows the saying that knowledge is power, but few take time to try and understand what that means. People have a responsibility to themselves, especially in such an environment of uncertainty, fear, and sickness.

So heads up, people, time to start dealing in reality and truth. The struggle is far from over, and as I have been seeing in a series of ads being run lately: Let the protocols work!

Ernest Amadoe

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