We need hope, not hollow excuses. So lockdown is finally easing – and confusion reigns. From the simple “stay at home” message, we are now faced with a range of confusing rules covering what we can and cannot do. We can invite cleaners and contractors into our homes, but not those we love. We are back at work – well, some of us anyway. Schools are reopening – or are they? Shops can open, but we still can’t get a haircut.
And we are navigating this minefield as it is revealed yet another senior official has acted with blatant disregard for lockdown rules. At the time of writing, Dominic Cummings remains in post, but for how long remains to be seen, as public anger and calls for his resignation grow. Yet another example of one rule for us, another for them.
Even before the Cummings revelations, a sense of mutiny was growing amongst the British population. We are fed up, lonely and confused by what is expected of us. And our response varies from those who seem to have unilaterally abandoned lockdown and social distancing to those – like me – who have given up trying to follow unfathomable rules and are simply being sensible.
As time wears on and our sacrifice continues, the leadership chasm at Westminster is growing. Fear of COVID-19 might have been a sufficient motivator in the early stages of its spread. However, we are now in week 9 of lockdown. Aside from the government-imposed restrictions and bleak news coverage, most of us have not been impacted by the virus.
This is a good thing – it means the measures are working.
However, we are looking to our leaders to give us much-needed hope for the future. We need a compelling vision for a bright future that gives meaning to our current sacrifice. And in this, our leaders are failing us. Prospects for the future seem bleak – recession, unemployment and hardship are next, according to the British press.
In a recent podcast, I referred to Churchill’s rousing “Fight them on the beaches …” address to parliament in the wake of allied troops untidy retreat through Dunkirk. Victory was far from assured at the time of the address and much was being asked of the British public to play their part in the fight. Statesmanlike leadership was required to guide the nation to victory over their foe.
Now, it is clear that sitting at home playing FIFA in the fight against COVID-19 is a far cry from laying down your life for your country. However, there are parallels with the current crisis – a need for great sacrifice, for pulling together against the enemy, a sense we are all in this together.
And yet, the statesmanlike leadership is sorely lacking. Where are the rallying cries? Hope for the future? Our sense of unity and shared experience?
The fight against COVID-19 is far from over – and growing dissent risks its deadly resurgence.
It is time for our leaders to step up and lead. They can start by showing humility – accept and admit they have made mistakes that have undermined their lockdown measures. Lead by example – not by excuses – and we will follow. Paint a rich picture of a hopeful future that we can all play our part in creating.
We need hope not hollow excuses
There have been some wonderful by-products of the current crisis – acts of kindness and humanity, a renewed sense of community, a rejuvenated Planet Earth. If we could look forward to:
“A world where we look out for our fellow man, build a thriving community and work together to create a brighter future for everyone.”
This would provide meaning, hope for the future and a powerful purpose in our current sacrifice.