Empathy over Fighting


There’s no doubt in my mind that I am in a more fortunate position that most during these strange times.

Even when I forget that the one small supermarket in the village will be closed over the Easter weekend and run out of food (and wine!), I don’t need to panic. My neighbours bring me fresh fish, painted Easter eggs, apple strudel, and their own home-made wine.

There’s nothing I need, and I don’t feel isolated nor alone. For this I am blessed.

It is not lost on me that others will not be coping so well. Although I am a great believer in that “we are all in this together”, that we walk the same Earth and breathe the same air, I am under no illusion that this is the same experience for everyone. I feel sad for that, and I wish I could do more to help.

I was so impressed by Emily Maitlis on Newsnight last week, when she opened with words of empathy and in recognition for the fact that this is not the “great leveller” that certain politicians are saying it is.

It came throughout the time that Boris Johnson was in intensive care, when the chosen soundbites of the Downing Street cronies was that he would survive because he was a “fighter”.

Whoever wrote that Newsnight opening deserves a pat on the back at the very least, and I was pleased that it received the recognition on social media that it did. The statements from the Prime Minister’s aides were at the very least insensitive.

Only the day before we had Trump saying he was flying over his top people to offer privileged treatment to our Prime Minister. How is that possibly a level playing field?

If the news is true and MPs are getting a £10,000 bonus to work at home, when many do not have any income at all, and resorting to the measly Universal Credit allowance to live on.

Many of these MPs will be the same ones who clapped and cheered as they blocked a pay-rise for nurses back in 2017.

Those who will now be congratulating the NHS for taking such good care of their leader.

Many have no idea what it’s like out in the real world; the ones who do care, the ones who did their best for these key workers, they were smeared, blasted and mocked, as the elite continued to thrive during the “austerity” years.

As long as you’re alright, Jacob, sorry, Jack.

Of course, I wished our Prime Minister a full recovery, I’d be some kind of sociopath if I didn’t, but since when was his life more important that anyone else’s?

What about the doctors saving lives, the people that are risking their lives to save others. Surely that life is just as valuable.

I know what they’ll say, I read it so many times I had to take myself off social media.

“But he’s our leader, we need him back to lead the country”.

I guess that’s a matter of opinion, but give me Jacinta Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister any day. Her response to the virus was like a masterclass in crisis management.

Not only did she lead New Zealand into what has been described as the “most decisive and strongest lockdown in the world”, but throughout she was also able to display empathy, an often over-looked leadership quality.

By acknowledging the challenges people face by staying at home, such as disrupted family and work lives, to people not being able to attend funerals, she conveyed compassion and understanding in her public messages.

When she spoke to the children of the nation about the Easter Bunny being an essential worker, and that perhaps that’s the reason he may not make it this year to deliver eggs, I could have kissed the screen.

Let’s hope what comes out of this when it ends is more Emily and Jacinta moments, I just find it hard to believe it will come from this government, who still think “fighting” is more important than “caring”.

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