A world of opposites?

Right now, the world appears as one of opposites: Republican, Democrat; mask wearer, not a mask wearer, Brexiteer, Europhile… And more than ever, we seem to be insisting on our rights to oppose. All of which appears to be sowing division, discord, and unhappiness.

Division, discord and unhappiness are not attitudes I wish to learn or absorb into my thinking, nor would I ever think that endorsing these aspects was a good thing. It is my experience that we all have something to learn, and that if we want to begin to find solutions to the world’s very real problems, we have to begin to find a way to live amicably, despite our different viewpoints. So how can we do this?

I can see many different points of view. Depending on my mood and a host of other things, I can agree that a certain viewpoint is justified sometimes, even if I hold a different viewpoint; it all depends. So, if I lived in a country with minimal state provision for its citizens and a very thin or vulnerable safety-net for the sick or disabled, of course I understand those who insist on the right to keep working as long as they can, and who decry any attempts to restrain their freedoms in that direction, pandemic or no pandemic.

Self-reliance is laudable, but it can sit uncomfortably in the midst of a global health crisis. So, since members of my family involved in healthcare are in the midst of a viral outbreak which is having deadly outcomes and which most observers agree is now barely being controlled, and since I have friends directly involved in looking after the sick, I support restrictions on our social lives and even on our freedom to earn a living if that helps to bring the crisis under control. If I expose myself to un-necessary risk in exercising what I think of as my rights, how might an eventual illness in me or in my household add to the burdens of an already toiling health care system?

It is very apparent to me that, even in a world of opposites, although the Covid 19 virus and its ilk has not – not yet – affected me directly, it is better for me to curtail my daily expectations, since the combined effect of us all doing so reduces the risks to healthcare workers: even in times of crisis, we do not routinely choose to work in a field of endeavour in which the risk of serious illness or death is constant, and many times that of other work.  

However that may be, I can and do listen to differing points of view, and try to see the merit in all different perspectives. Despite our differing philosophies, we have to find ways to listen and co-operate with one another every day, so that together we can contribute to constructive, long-term solutions to our problems. That is what politics is all about. Since climate change, environmental losses and the weakening of democratic systems affect us all, the most enduring solutions will come from as wide a field of contribution as possible.

Thanks for reading.

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