Can we blame others for the effect COVID-19 is having on our lives?
Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School
The Coronavirus has and will continue to change our lives. Some of us have encountered small change, while others larger, but it cannot be denied that everyone has experienced change. The restrictions keep us in our homes and do not allow us to see friends and acquaintances. Millions of people have lost their jobs and livelihoods. But is there somebody or some people who are to blame?
After mistakes or problems of any scale, someone/some people nearly always get blamed. But what is blame? Blame is a reaction to something of negative normative significance about someone or their behaviour. Gary Watson (1996) has suggested that there is an evaluative form of blame connected with what he calls the “aretaic perspective”. To blame someone is to judge that they have failed with respect to some standard of excellence. So, can we place blame for the effects of COVID-19?
In different countries, governments are putting some measures in place to combat the spread of the virus. In Ireland, the lockdown relies on community compliance, if the restrictions were followed there’s no way anyone would infect more than their household. So why are we seeing hundreds of new cases everyday? It is nearly the opposite in Brazil where president Jair Bolsonaro was “seen supporting protesters for the lifting of travel restrictions” reports BBC news. This leader is far more bent on saving the economy, rather than people’s lives. Truth be told, in Brazil, protesting against lockdown is more reason for lockdown, Bolsonaro is one man, it’s up to the people to decide whether or not to trust the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the dangers of the pandemic and how this economic downfall is necessary to save lives.
In America, “most states took six weeks on average to close borders”, even though they had the longest time to react and learn of the virus patterns, as they were furthest from the epicentre and had the richest economy with the WHO and other countries such as Italy who requested others to lockdown borders. Sure, Trump and the republicans told people it would never come to America, but it did, five weeks after their first case there is still no official lockdown, and people should have prepared for it. The doctors and scientists asked “everyone” to distance themselves and stay clean not for politicians to strip every human right from us and have us abide to restrictions mindlessly. In truth, every human being on the planet no matter how powerless, had the ability to stop the virus and this survey of classmates agrees with me.
Pretty much everyone put at least some of the blame on the public, those who didn’t said that everyone was to blame. Everyone has breached guidelines once or twice at least, and even though they weren’t probably any difference to the pandemic overall, there have been too many restrictions being broken for them to pass as mistakes. Everything should be taken as a test, and we should all be conscientious, if that was the type of atmosphere that surrounded the community, the future would be brighter.
But the politicians are the figureheads of society, surely they’re at more fault?
Well, a country is only as good as the people who live in it, and politicians are a tiny percentage of that. But it is true that they were, and are, given the ability to speak out to others easier than the majority of the population and that their words hold places deep in the minds of the population. However, even though politicians can sway other’s decisions, the decisions made are the responsibility of the decider.
That’s all well and good but doesn’t somebody need to get kicked out of office?
After this, politicians may be wrongly blamed for the entire disaster. I’m not saying that some politicians shouldn’t have their actions investigated because many should, those who supported fake news and urged against health guidelines. However, we should look at our own actions before accusing others. Already some politicians such as the Brazilian health minister have lost their jobs, but nobody should be blamed, everyone should learn.
The hardest thing to accept is that when this is over, and people reflect, the facts will show that everyone made mistakes no matter their intentions. These are unprecedented times, and nothing could have prepared anyone in what should have been done. What is more important is that accepting the mistakes that we all made is key to learn a lesson that will help us all in the future. However, it is not yet the time for reflection. Now we have to put all of the effort we have into ensuring the future is safe and sustainable for humanity.
People may think they have reason to complain and break restrictions which they see as harsh, but the reality is that the measures people are breaking are literally stay at home, be a couch potato, only see your friends through video calls and don’t go to school. As Pascal said: “all of humanity’s problems stem from its inability to sit quietly in a room and do nothing”. That Pascal had it all worked out.
Watson, G.,1996, “Two Faces of Responsibility”, Philosophical Topics, 24(2): 227–248.
BBC news, “Coronavirus pandemic”, “Jair Bolsonaro fires health minister”, “USA lockdown reaction”.