We need an out­break of cop-on

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - FRONT PAGE -

YOU could feel Michael McGrath’s pain. His mo­not­o­nous, calm­ing Cork lilt nearly cracked a few times as he fielded ques­tions on Prime Time about the ban that is not a ban on home vis­its. And then he came out with it. “We are ask­ing peo­ple to ex­er­cise com­mon sense.”

And with that plain­tive plea, he summed up so much. He summed up how it should all be so sim­ple. But also how lost we all are. At any other time a plea for com­mon sense might seem like a rea­son­able one. But all we could do was shake our heads, and mourn the past. Be­cause we all know, deep in our hearts, that at this stage com­mon sense has long bolted.

If every­body ex­er­cised com­mon sense, we wouldn’t be where we are to­day. But com­mon sense, like so many other as­pects of our old lives, is gone for now. For some at least. The prob­lem is, that small group could be enough to have us all locked down.

The cir­cle of lack of com­mon sense works like this: first peo­ple run around scream­ing that the sky is fall­ing in and we are all go­ing to die, end­lessly con­sum­ing bad news, some peo­ple tak­ing in the same bad news half-a-dozen times a day. But then, when the Gov­ern­ment sug­gests we do some­thing about it, they freak out. ‘It’s all too con­fus­ing’ is a pop­u­lar line. ‘How come the chil­dren can go to school but I can’t go for cof­fee with two friends? How come I’m al­lowed go to the shop but I can’t have a party?’

Any new mea­sures are im­me­di­ately picked apart. Peo­ple text into ra­dio sta­tions clev­erly pick­ing out anom­alies in the rules. If we put the same ef­fort into cut­ting down our so­cial con­tacts as we do into pick­ing holes in the rules, we’d have no Covid. We all know in our hearts what the spirit of the rules is, but some­thing in our psy­che wants to prove them wrong.

That would be all very well, if we weren’t de­mand­ing more rules. Ap­par­ently two-thirds of us want tighter re­stric­tions. But then, when the Gov­ern­ment tries to bring them in, we at­tack them. ‘ How can they be so ir­re­spon­si­ble as to ig­nore Dr Tony. Let’s go to Level 5!’ segues eas­ily into: ‘How can you stop home vis­its? The lone­li­ness will kill peo­ple! What do you mean we can’t go trick or treat­ing? They’ll can­cel Christ­mas next. My kids need a play­date. It’s for their men­tal health! If only there were some way we could get these num­bers down!’

Paschal Dono­hoe called it out on TV on Thurs­day when he was be­ing ha­rangued about the men­tal-health ef­fects of the home-visit ban, and he pointed out, slightly crankily, that just two min­utes ear­lier the in­ter­viewer had been ask­ing him why we weren’t go­ing to Level 5.

Maybe it’s time we all grew up. This is not a game. Yes, the re­stric­tions are hard, and they’re harder on some. But the less we keep to the re­stric­tions, the more re­stric­tions we’ll need. A bit of com­mon sense here could save Christ­mas, could save our health service, our econ­omy, and our so­ci­ety. We are not chil­dren. As Dr Tony says, the Gov­ern­ment can’t wash your hands for you.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.