When I was a kid I loved the Three Musketeers – the sword fighting, the adventure, the wit, the overcoming of evil and adversity. More than that though, I was utterly sold on their rallying cry of ‘all for one and one for all’. It made beautiful sense and it was so emblematic of their connection to each other and their selflessness in pursuit of the greater good. Don’t get me wrong, I was a kid, it was a nice concept and it would have been nice to live by that ethos. While you could argue that that ‘all for one and one for all’ would be a wonderful way for society to function, there are also degrees of self interest that govern how we live and function. In many ways it is a mix of the two but sometimes notions of the greater good are just absolutely essential.
Last week New Zealand was shaken from our six month Covid free reverie by the news of community transmission in Auckland. Before the day was out the whole country was in Level 4 Lockdown and at the time of writing, it looks as if the coming weeks and perhaps months will be restricted as we battle the Delta variant. While we have been here before, this feels very new. The variant is far more contagious and we really do have a significant challenge ahead. Our vaccination levels are low compared to most countries in the world and beyond short term we may have to think differently about how we learn to live with Covid-19.
Which brings me back to selflessness, thinking about others, and acting accordingly. A few weeks ago I received an invitation to a mass vaccination event in South Auckland. My first thought was to coordinate with my children so we could all attend together. We didn’t hesitate. It felt like a gilt edged opportunity to do something to ensure we and others would be protected and safe.
Like every one of us I have spent many hours talking with others about vaccines. I have read about and watched protests against vaccination. I have listened to experts and I have entertained opposing views. I have a very good friend who is an oncologist who dumbed down the science to explain to me exactly how the Pfizer vaccine works. Whatever niggling doubts I may have had dissolved to nothing. Why? Because I absolutely believe that vaccination is the key to whatever Covid future lies ahead.
Some believe that lockdowns and vaccination are an affront to their personal freedoms. In essence that is exactly what a lockdown is but its purpose is to stall transmission and eradicate the virus. It is an exercise in looking out for ourselves and each other. There are obvious consequences and they are difficult but right now, while our vaccination level is at roughly 40 percent, we have little choice. As that level rises, we will have other choices, they too, may be difficult.
We are in unique times and without doubt we are doing things for others in a way that we never have before. Society is not a concept, it is a reality. We are all vulnerable and we all have a part to play. I firmly believe that as we vaccinate we will position ourselves toward a manageable life with Covid-19. We would love to travel, we would love to open our borders. We can’t even imagine that if our vaccination record is lacking.
Right now, more and more New Zealanders are getting their shots and amongst a lockdown with a number of negatives, that is one big positive.