Editorial November 25th 2022
Welcome to this week’s editorial,
Several years ago I laughingly commented that New Zealand should rename themselves to “get farked” because that is exactly what you say as you drive around the country, going from one stunning view to the next. It every turn and every twist in the road, from North to south, you find yourself unable to not say “get farked”. Fortunately the Kiwis also has the place name Aotearoa, that sums it up perfectly. But this side of the Ditch we have a variety of other uses for the expression “get farked”. Mostly around defiance. I remember fondly riding in the back tray of my father’s old Holden ute with all of my friends. Wind through our hair as we bounced along dirt roads, fluing up into the air along with the spare tyre, the dog and any tools in the back if we hit a bump. When the rules came in outlawing that my father said the same thing he said when it was ruled you couldn’t have your arm out the window to indicate stopping or turning. “Get farked !” Eventually he came around to the new rules that also included not driving when you were drunk, using indicators instead of arms, and wearing seatbelts. It seemed that there was a universal approach to accepting new rules with an initial “get farked” that, more often than not, came with the additional declaration of Australia becoming a ‘nanny state’. If you go back over the decades there were the warnings about skin cancer with the population encouraged to Slip, Slop, Slap. Most parents did it, but to the young and older diehards the response was “get farked”, until having a suntan was unfashionable. Fortunately we have changed. Occupational Health and Safety demands sunscreens, hats and appropriate clothing for workers and schools have rules in place.
We now wear High Viz, wear work boots on building sites, have scaffolding and safety harnesses and enjoy the monotony of reversing alarms on trucks. We can no longer smoke cigarettes in cinemas and on aircraft, we are required to wear flotation devices to ensure we don’t accidently drown and homes must have smoke detectors. Rules that all came with resistance and are still challenged from time to time, even though it is common sense. This seemingly natural defiance against rules seems to be hard wired into some of our community. Mostly male, and of those it is the young ‘bullet proof’ males or the ‘tough as nails’ old males. The “No-one tells me what to do” males. Oddly there are also the defiant females who join the fray. We are very odd animals, us humans. We are advised, from birth, of all the things that might hurt us. “Don’t do this, Don’t eat that. Don’t touch them and especially Don’t do THAT.” But we do. We drink, we smoke, we speed, we break the law, we do dangerous things and most of us survive…. But that all changes when we arrive at the recognition of our own mortality. “Why Not?” is replaced with “Best Not”. We become more cautious. We become far more aware that we are not ‘bullet proof’ and are in fact far more fragile. You can see this at play on any day at your local supermarket. The resilient young and the cautious old. We know that Covid is still out there and that the numbers are once again rising. We are advised daily of the numbers of infected and the number of fatalities. We are told of the symptoms and of the sometime dire complications that might happen to each, and all of us. But we collectively ignore this. Its as if Covid doesn’t exist any longer. Unlike the AIDS campaign there is no Grim Reaper to remind you at every turn. Unlike the cigarette warnings there are no photos on packets of mouth cancers. So now, without mandate, most are going without a mask, without appearing to have fear of contracting Covid, or having any concern they might carry it and are giving it to others. A collective “fark it, and a “get farked” to mask wearing, or caution. For a while there were the reminders of Covid with crosses on the floor 1.5m apart, sanitiser pump-packs at entries, wipes for trolley handles and staff wearing masks. But those warning reminders appear to have gone by the by except in some small shops still showing caution. Looking about however ,“Fark it”, seems to be the general response, mostly driven by “if they haven’t got a mask on then I don’t have to wear one either”. But Covid is still out there. A Russian Roulette of unknown consequences, from mild to deadly. I ventured cautiously out to a public meeting last week and came home with Covid. It is real and is not pleasant. For whatever reason I didn’t wear the mask that I had in my pocket. Most likely because had I done so I would have been the only one in a room of seventy with a mask on. Masks are a bind. They muffle your voice, fog your glasses and are uncomfortable. I muse, recognising I succumbed to peer pressure. I think back to that town hall meeting and realise that collectively, with full understanding that Covid is still around and that it loves nothing more than a meeting, a wedding or funeral to spread, we all, including me, decided collectively to say “fark it” to wearing a mask, and indirectly “fark it” to any consequences. Rules are put in place for a reason. Often to protect the individual, the collective, or the collective from the individual. With Covid about and no mask mandate rules we are left to determine how we might navigate our day to day. Most will hopefully survive but some, unfortunately the older or weaker, will not, and have not. One day I intend to venture back out in public again but will do so with a mask. For myself and mine, and for you and yours. In the meantime take care out there because Covid is definitely afoot in our community. Until next—lei