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What Is This Moment Teaching Us?

Written By: - Date published: 12:15 pm, April 14th, 2020 - 53 comments
Categories: capitalism, health, health and safety, jacinda ardern, uncategorized, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

By us, I mean New Zealand.

  1. We respond well to good leadership

I’m not going to wax on about the politicians. But the leading public servants have been shown to be people we can trust and rely upon. We have been reassured. We have frankly obeyed. And that response to good leadership had meant we have collectively delivered strong results.

  1. We’re tough

There was the 2008-09 financial collapse and recession. Then the 2010 Pike River disaster. Followed by the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. The 2012-13 drought – one of the very worst on record. Dunedin’s floods of 2015. Next year the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. The 2019 Northland drought and Southland floods, and the White Island eruption. The Covid-19 medical and economic calamity. Through that, from 2009 until early 2020 we had strong employment growth, consistent economic growth, low unemployment, and a confident country. We work hard through it all, and we get through it.

  1. We’re good

In this extraordinary lockdown, few people broke the tough rules. There’s no big outbreaks of theft, looting, or vandalism. No packs of drunken hooligans. Nothing like The Purge happened, though the moment is so ripe for dystopian fantasy. Police are not stretched for that kind of crime –lthough domestic abuse is reportedly up. The stories of people assisting each are echoing through social media and the mainstream media. We are quietly proud of all essential workers and what they’ve been doing for us all through this. Newspapers are reduced to reporting on harsh words spoken about surfing.

  1. We’re Kind

Teddybears have certainly appeared in windows right across my neighbourhood. There were pictures drawn by children of easter eggs on letterboxes. People are driving across town to make sure elderly people can get food delivered to their door. Massive and consistent food donations. When it started to get unruly at supermarkets, the word went out and people actually started being nicer to each other. Our social networks have by and large worked well on our social digital platforms.

While I have no prediction yet on how hard this crisis will hit us all in the bank, what I do know is that the character we collectively have has been exposed, made clearer to see, and actually it’s quite affirming.

53 comments on “What Is This Moment Teaching Us? ”

  1. Gosman 1

    Ummm… how is this different to ANY other nation? Are you stating other nations are not doing as well? If so, what are those nations and what evidence do you have to make the claims that they aren't doing as well as NZ?

    • Muttonbird 1.1

      USA Covid-19 deaths = 23,621

      • Paddington 1.1.1

        Another meaningless piece of data unsullied by context. If you’re going to make a point about another country, at least quote meaning ful comparisons. Here I’ll even point you in the right direction https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.

        • Muttonbird

          I look at that site every morning. Where do you think I got that number from?

          Gosman asked how is NZ different from any other nation. I told him.

          • Paddington

            Yes but you know it was a meaningless response. Now if you had replied "NZ has 2 deaths per MM of Population, compared to the US's 71", now that would have made sense. Or if you had even bothered to compare NZ with another similar country, then you figure would not have been as utterly irrelevant as it was.

            • Muttonbird

              It's relevant because it's the biggest. Why do you think he's gone off on this rant? Because he only understands bald numbers and the US going top has hurt him. He is now lashing out.

              • Paddington

                It's irrelevant because it is meaningless without context. Do you really not understand this?

      • Gosman 1.1.2

        Are you stating that A,mericans in places like New York do not respond well to good leadership, and are not tough, good , and kind?

        • Muttonbird

          Responding to good leadership wasn't an option for Americans because there was no good leadership.

          Trump alone will be responsible for the record number of deaths in the US. The buck stops with him.

          • Gosman

            The buck does not stop with him in regard to the response to the virus. The US system of government ensures that is the case. That is why he is being (rightly) criticised for stating he has the authority to order the individual States to re-open their local economies.

    • observer 1.2

      " Are you stating other nations are not doing as well?"

      Did you read that? No. So, no.

      I agree with the OP, and there was no comparison with another country, stated or implied.

    • peterh 1.3

      Have you been asleep for the last couple weeks

  2. tc 2

    " leading public servants have been shown to be people we can trust and rely upon…" and an intelligent emphatic PM who trusts them to do the job and acts promptly on the advice.
    compared to the UK and US who dithered, denied now into scapegoating

  3. bill 4

    There’s no big outbreaks of theft, looting, or vandalism. No packs of drunken hooligans. Nothing like The Purge happened …

    I do love it when urban middle class neurosis is shown, yet again, to be nought but neurosis. You think a day will come when zombie movies and such like are something other than an infantile expression of urban middle class fear – always savagery and cannibalism being the first port of call for working class and rural people who heroic urban middle class types must then defend themselves from.

    And if you want that in real life, then reflect on Haiti.

    Remember Haiti? Scenes of young men climbing chain link fences to reach over for cardboard boxes that they were throwing to the assembled crowd, and a breathless network reporter informing the world that Haiti was in the grip of dangerous and lawless looting. (People were using the cardboard boxes to provide themselves with a measure of shelter).

    How many people failed to register the reality before their eyes because of the immediacy of a commentary that simply reinforced stupid stereotypes about poor people and a lack of "normal" control measures?

    There actually was some measure of fear about "poor people running riot" because of a lock down; due to the temporary suspension of society's middle class normalcy, was there? That's sad.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      You think a day will come when zombie movies and such like are something other than an infantile expression of urban middle class fear – always savagery and cannibalism being the first port of call

      I forget the author who wrote this:

      "Most people's moral fibre is about seven missed meals deep"

      • bill 4.1.1

        It's been my direct experience, and over a fairly extended time period, that poor people and hungry people help one another out. Hugely.

        So, maybe you're writer ought to reconsider and pen something along the lines of "Most people's moral fibre is buried about seven missed meals deep"?

        Because I can tell you, there were precious few hand ups or hand outs from "people of means" for those who moved among them with no money or food. (France and Iberian Peninsula 1980s)

        • Chris T

          Odd post.

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            4.1.1 seems fair comment, born of experience. Can you elaborate on "Odd post"?

            • Chris T

              Just seemed to me that going by that logic it seems to throw out the argument that petty crime is mostly caused by poverty, which I think it is.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Petty crime mostly committed by those in poverty, against those in poverty (and others), cf. those in poverty "helping each other out". Still, unless a majority of those in poverty are petty criminals, I don't see why these two 'observations' are necessarily incompatible.

                "Wide-eyed children are the hungriest."

              • bill

                I don't know what's the biggest driver of petty crime, but I'm a bit lost as to why you think poor people helping one another out would or should preclude a little 'crime'.

        • RedLogix

          What you are really talking about is social cohesion. People are social creatures first and foremost; when the govt works, the supermarkets are working, the police are on the streets … most people will be at their best no matter the crisis.

          And I'll grant you that this social glue can be pretty damned strong. The direct experience you talk to is real and inspiring so I don't want to be seen pissing on it.

          But history gives me a catalog of instances when it all went very wrong; and it's instructive to think why.

          Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death.

          In 1864 Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of the island. Utterly alone in a dense coastal forest, plagued by stinging blowflies and relentless rain, Captain Musgrave inspires his men to take action. With barely more than their bare hands, they build a cabin and, remarkably, a forge, where they manufacture their tools.

          Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island, the Invercauld wrecks during a horrible storm. Nineteen men stagger ashore. Unlike Captain Musgrave, the captain of the Invercauld falls apart given the same dismal circumstances. His men fight and split up; some die of starvation, others turn to cannibalism. Only three survive. Musgrave and all of his men not only endure for nearly two years, they also plan their own astonishing escape, setting off on one of the most courageous sea voyages in history.


          • KJT

            Those instances, of social breakdown, Lord of the flies episodes, stand out because, they are not the norm.

            Like "Rags to riches" stories.

            • RedLogix

              The example I gave is interesting because the extreme physical circumstances of the two groups was almost identical, yet one group survived with the humanity and dignity intact, the other group decidedly not.

              The difference was largely down to their social behaviours.

              • Robert Guyton

                From memory, having read this account years ago, their survival came down to the semi-brutish resolve and demands of Musgrave – he wasn't a gentle man, counselling his crew through the crisis – he forced them to exercise etc. It worked, but wasn't an egalitarian experience.

          • bill

            What you are really talking about is social cohesion.

            No. What I'm really talking about is basic levels of humanity.

            My take on what your vaunted "social cohesion" or "social order" does to myriads of people is a whole different conversation, and needless to say, isn't quite as rosy as yours apparently is.

            • RedLogix

              Honestly I don't understand you any more. At one point you tell us all poor people are saints and never do wrong, the next you tell me I have a 'rosy' view.

              Just for clarity, my view is simple. All humans, rich, poor, fat, thin, pink or green have the same basic capacity for both good and evil.

              Suggesting that somehow poor people have an innate moral superiority to those better off is bunk.

                • Stunned Mullet

                  Delve deeper and examine the actual studies KJT – there's more holes in them than there is usual information.


                  By the way did you manage to find the data that suggested that there would be no loss in income from close to zero international's tourism backwards and forwards for the next 12 months or so.

              • bill

                At one point you tell us all poor people are saints and never do wrong ..

                lol – I definitely didn't say that!

                And neither did I so much as suggest that somehow poor people have an innate moral superiority to those better off

                Seems you may not understand any kind of systems theory – y'know, like how environment affects people and behaviours. – shrug –

                • RedLogix

                  y'know, like how environment affects people and behaviours

                  Good grief bill, we've been here more than a decade now. You know better than this.

                  All the evidence I've read concludes that people are never reductionist cartoons; biology, environment and free will ensure we are and always will remain a mysterious creature.

                  Yet when it comes down to it, each of us have no control over the heritage our biology bequeathed us, and the social environment we are immersed in from infancy is also beyond any meaningful control.

                  There really is only one thing we do control, the moral choices we make in response to what life throws at us.

                  This does not free us from the demands of understanding and mastering the urges of our biology, nor can we abdicate the responsibility to address our social world. We can and must always work to optimise both; in this both the left and the right play their instinctive roles.

                  I reject both crude biological essentialism and the soft bigotry of social constructionism. Both are thieving ideologies preying on our dignity and agency.

            • RedLogix

              Thanks. Life was very different even as recently as the 1860's, I'm often astonished at how smart and tough our ancestors were. Most of us wouldn't last 10 minutes if a time machine were to magically send us back there.

      • KJT 4.1.2

        Hasn't been the experience in refugee camps.

        The poor and starving help each other when they can, rather than not.

        That was also the experience in New Zealand during the general strike. People were helping their neighbours, despite it being illegal.

        So called “elites” are the ones climbing over each other to get what they can.

        Part of the anti social psychology, that got them to the top in the first place?

  4. indiana 5

    I hope this moment does not ingrain into a us dependence on the Government post lock down. In my view Australia has opened the welfare tap far greater than it has here in NZ. But, as quickly as it has opened the tap, even more quickly it will be at turning it off.

  5. AB 6

    "While I have no prediction yet on how hard this crisis will hit us all in the bank, what I do know is that the character we collectively have has been exposed, made clearer to see, and actually it’s quite affirming"

    Reasonably so yes. But as you imply, the thing that will make it fray is when real money becomes involved, when it becomes clearer who is losing and who is winning. Then we go back to the normal sadistic bear-pit of the economy. If we are to learn anything from this, it isn't what nice, wonderful people we are. It's that the economy doesn't do what we need it to, which is:

    • free every citizen from financial insecurity
    • free every citizen from all forms of domination by any other citizen in achieving that security
  6. Peter 7

    The moment is showing us the insanity of the world.

    America is great, America is wonderful, America doesn't need anyone else. Their President has told us that. (In between trying to purloin medical and other supplies because they don't have them and can't produce them.) 3M is one of their big companies with about $US35 billion in sales in a year manufacturing all over the world including the US. They have been in the news recently.

    And today their President told us that in past 24 hours or so he's talked with the Russian President and so on and so on about oil prices. So if they don't need the rest of the world can go their own way and are so fantastic why don't they just go their own way? Why do they need to check in with other countries?

  7. Jum 8

    Just heard the song on Dr Bloomfield on Trending Now. He covers 1,2,3 and 4. Priceless.

    PS Was that Gosman I saw heading towards his bach under cover of darkness??

    I could be wrong…

  8. Incognito 9

    I liked this Post (AKA I’ve been waiting for a Post like this).

    It is good to see that, so far, the physical distancing has brought us closer in some ways.

    Coronavirus: Forget the science fiction movies, disasters actually make us better people


  9. adam 10

    You know what I'm really learning – How so many just haven't caught on how much of a slave they really are.

  10. Corey Humm 11

    This is more like it

    I've heard enough about politicians, media and businesses and their struggle, resilience and not enough about the people and their struggle and their resilience

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