Before I elaborate more, a small disclaimer. I realize that the timing may differ depending on your location, and some of you may not have left the first wave yet.
When I watch the news, I hear the same conversations all over again. When I check the Whatsapp groups I’m part of, the discussion seems precisely the same as six months ago.
The same people with the same positions haven’t moved one bit and are still making the same arguments.
Why don’t we learn? Don’t we know better?
I know I may be putting people in defense mode right now. I know some people will start pointing out all the improvements we’re experiencing.
But why do we hear again about a lack of testing capacity? Why do we hear again about pressure on the number of intensive care beds in hospitals? Why is the conversation about the legitimacy of facemasks continuing?
We had six months to figure out what works best, pending a vaccine. We had six months to align ourselves and come up with a common approach. We had six months to agree on, in my case, a European approach to handle a second wave.
The result? Nothing.
Not one single citizen who understands anymore what’s happening. A color-coded warning system that looks different in every country. A prime minister (from my native country, the Netherlands) who tells his citizens to shut up and comply.
Experts that can’t agree on anything and seem to be predominantly interested in their media exposure.
It’s clear to me.
Nobody knows what to do.
But everyone pretends they know.
Everybody is so worried about their (political) future that an open and honest conversation is the last option on the list.
A conversation about mistakes, lessons learned, and listening to each other before deciding what’s the best way to go forward — a conversation where we may realize that somebody else may have a better proposal or solution.
Somebody who may have different expertise, work at a lower level, or be from another country. Somebody who doesn’t necessarily fit our thought or behavior pattern. Somebody with our shared best interest in mind.
Once in a while, somebody shows up who projects trust, authenticity, and willingness to be vulnerable. We all have our own examples. Most of us find that so refreshing that the person gets attention, exposure and becomes more believable than those in charge.
Until we are the people in charge.
Then we exclude the person from the conversation, rather than embracing a different perspective and include the person.
Because how would we look when we have to admit we were wrong. What would happen to our carefully built up reputation, managed by communication experts and reputation consultants?
Your turn: What have you learned about yourself and the pandemic in the past six months?
As far as I’m concerned, here’s what I’ve learned.
We’re all human beings.
We don’t have all the answers.
We’re all trying to find out this thing called ‘life’.
And once in a while, something happens we have not experienced before. So we make mistakes, we learn, and move on.
That’s how most of us live our lives anyway. Don’t we?
Can we at least have a conversation and listen to each other?
You may call me naive or stupid. That’s fine.
But as my good Greek friends often said, “Hope dies last”.