A virus has snaked its way around the globe over the past 16 months with inconsistent resistance in part because some of the world’s most open nations believed carrying on as if nothing was happening would work.
Either pretending the crisis wasn’t real or unwisely stating that their people would simply be strong enough to fight off the worst of a deadly pandemic, multiple world leaders allowed their citizens, already punch drunk boxers, to start another round against a potent enemy. In their warped thinking, these leaders convinced far too many people that, this time, this round would be different.
It wasn’t. There was no way it could be.
Adopting this strategy ensured the virus continued to spread, denying the medical and scientific communities the time they needed to treat the sick and identify vaccines that would aid everyone. Fear soon took over as rational people realized poor government policy was making an already deadly situation worse.
A few nations handled the crisis much differently. Putting society over self and the collective good over capitalist greed, these leaders, in effect, shut down their countries. One of them was China. The Lancet has powerfully outlined how a “centralized epidemic response system” combined with a population committed to fighting off the pandemic provided China some of the ingredients needed to reduce the spread of the virus as quickly as possible. And, yes, locking down major metropolitan areas throughout the country also was a necessity.
It worked. As one Yale professor noted in the aforementioned Lancet article: “Compliance was very high.”
At this point, the naysayers are in full voice, screaming that the “Communists” would have thrown people in prison for not following the draconian rules. No way such rules would would ever be displayed in “my” country, they’ll tell you. And no way “my” country could afford the economic chaos from remaining in a real lockdown for weeks. “My” country would never give up freedom to some bug.
Of course. So, how would you like to criticize what New Zealand did, my friend?
One of those countries screaming loudest about freedom and individual rights has spent $2 trillion fighting a war in Afghanistan. Zero success has resulted. It also has spent almost $3 trillion in multiple stimulus efforts designed to help its citizens and the country recover from the devastation of the pandemic. It also is approaching a second summer in which international travel — which some people in that nation believe is some God-given right — might be restricted.
I know. I live in that country.
We know the United States would be in a different situation today if its simple-minded (now former) president would have done what was necessary in the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic. The man who claimed to admire the strength of world leaders, current or past, could not muster any when it counted. All he could offer was empty rhetoric.
The irony can’t be lost on anyone: China is maintaining heightened travel restrictions now because of realistic worries that people entering the country from the outside might cause the virus to spiral out of control there. Meanwhile, multiple democratic nations are debating what to do about the lucrative tourist season.
All of those nations are denying all of us our freedom, right? Exactly.