There is a precedence for the current situation we are in. It is called war time.
In most wars there is a disagreement between two parties. One that cannot be resolved without conflict and the loss of life. Often these are territorial and economic. It could also be a nation state having a go at that Great Game nations play with smaller nations.
Australia’s first two major conflicts were because of the Great Game. In both the Boer War and WW1 Australia was shanghaied into military service by our colonial overseer. Our opponent in the Gallipoli debacle was the newly created Turkish nation. How could two young nations so far apart have any reason to wage war; other than at the behest of another power.
The Silence of the ANZAC’s
As ‘I was only Nineteen’ tells us the “ANZAC legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears”. No, those are tales they kept to themselves. Tales that are echoed when they meet with those they fought alongside. Comrades, brothers and sisters in arms. Only those who have been through what they went through could ever understand it.
Meeting with those fellow members who survived and still bear the scars is more important than the marches and parades. Unfortunately for them ANZAC Day will be celebrated with a different response this year. Because we have a new battle on our hands and it is one we are not able to avoid.
Unless you are Indigenous, war has never come to this land. Yes, the Japanese forces did bomb Darwin and a small force did make it to our shores. Fortunately they were eaten by Crocodiles. Our current antagonist cannot be thwarted by distance or our deadly fauna. Our opponent is not a person, a nation, or even a disease. It is a mind set.
A War within Us
A conspiracy theory is being suggested here. COVID-19 is deadly and could kill millions of people by the end of this year. People in this nation are not just dying due to the virus. They are dying because someone decided that something else was more important.
While we can point the finger at those on Bondi beach, a cruise ship company or ignorant world leaders, we need to consider ourselves. Where does self distancing end for us? It is a battle between virtues.
On one side we have the virtue of health and the wellbeing of others that is being upheld right now. For some it is a patriotic duty and a responsibility towards our neighbour. This is all well and good, till it meets a competing virtue.
My niece had her birthday recently. Like many who have had their birthday during isolation, much of it was on Zoom. For the week before my Mother was trying work out how to make an appearance physically. I am sure many others have had to think through this situation. In the end we did go over to say our congratulations to my niece. But we did not go inside, and we could not give hugs. We stayed 1.5 metres apart and it sucked.
Would my Mother throw away all caution and hug her grandchildren breaking the virtue of communal health? You bet she would. In an instant. Would anyone begrudge her that? Her killjoy of a Son did. All the way over to my Sister’s house I told my parents this was non-essential travel. It probably was. Though my warnings were not appreciated.
Why was I such a wet blanket? Because I take the virtue of communal health over the many birthdays that will all suck this year. Because I know that our battle is in our minds. It is our habits to give into certain ways of life. To go to the beach on a hot day. To meet and do fun things with other people. The virtues of socialisation are no longer as beneficial as they once were.
Like war, we do not realise the significance, the impact, or, the destruction loosing this battle will cost. Like any disaster we do not realise that, eventually, it will end. Though we are not going to eradicate this virus till there is a vaccine. Until that time we are at war.
There are many of us who are casualties of this conflict. Wether that is economic, social or otherwise. It is ok to mourn this loss. Our governments are doing the best they can with the tools they have. What we have to do is realise the gravity of the situation and our responsibility therein.
What is Needed For Our Survival?
Innovations are going to be required. People are going to have to re-think how to solve problems with different tools that just Zoom. Nations that once were reliant on globalised economics will have to rethink production and distribution. Creating flexible and imaginative solutions that are still able to be responsible will be the most successful.
On ANZAC day spare a thought for the diggers who cannot get together with the only people who can understand what they have been through. For old diggers, they may never see their mates again. Chances are last year was their last ANZAC day.
We are in a situation not seen for a long time. If you do have relatives who experienced times like these they know what you are going through. When this is all over (and it will be over one day) you too will have tales to tell. You will tell them to your kids and grand kids and they will probably not understand. But for those who went through it and survived, they will.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.