Politics versus Public Health: we do not become stronger through lies

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” — Admiral James Stockdale.

Stockdale was a prisoner of war. “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.

Who didn’t make it out of the camps? “The optimists,” he replied. “Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart …

It’s plain that we will still be masking up and locking down for the remainder of 2021. In March 2020, I predicted that, no, the pandemic would not be over by January 2021. I did predict that the earliest we could expect vaccines would be the start of 2021 and that it would take months to roll them out – even if they were effective.

This isn’t pessimism, it’s reality.

The desire to have sweet lies whispered is anathema to the principles of public service and decency. Our elected officials and appointed bureaucrats must tell us truths rather than just telling us things that might make us sleep at night.

Business eye comments on the briefings by the Chief Medical Officer in Northern Ireland:

We’re not sure who gave Dr. Michael McBride a bit of bollocking on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. But someone must have. Because the Dr. Doom who spoke to the media on Tuesday was very different to the Dr. Hope who appeared alongside Robin Swann yesterday.

And that’s the power of politics.

That it’s better to lie to people now because you can always lie to them later. For the love of everything sacred, give me harsh truths rather than honeyed lies.

As a medical professional, did he not see the damage this kind of grim pessimism can do to people… lonely people, people separated from family, vulnerable people, young people?

See, this is false equivalence from people who don’t know better. It’s been said repeatedly that telling people they will be having a hard time will lead to them having a worse time. This sort of ideation of lowered expectations causes more mental health issues than the pandemic itself.

There may never be a vaccine that gives guaranteed protection. We may be wearing masks for years. We need to prepare for continued fatalities, secondary health issues, long term Covid-legacy sickness, mass unemployment, the entire collapse of the entertainment, travel and tourism industries.

Those who survive are the ones who are resilient, who are stoic, those who are perceptive and adaptable. This has been the history of humanity since the very beginning. We were not the strongest, nor the fastest, but we were the smartest. And you don’t stay smart by being lied to.