Apr 03, 2020
At a macro level, the emotional impact of the coronavirus has been very unifying. A few weeks ago nations like the USA, Italy, the UK and others were furthering their nationalist political stance and further distancing themselves from their global partners. There is no conversation of populism or nationalist states taking place on the news today. Right now we are all bonded by our collective battle against this invisible villain.
There are some governments who have responded better to this crisis than others. Some leaders have been very pragmatic when called upon to update their citizens, others have been very short-sighted in their prognosis, and then there are the few who remain in denial, refusing to believe that the severity meets the hype.
Why are leaders dealing with the same crisis so different? It is human nature. This whole experience has magnified how global leaders perform in times of uncertainty and we have been watching it play out before our eyes because there is no time to draft and review your response in times like these.
We are all irrational beings that bring chaos to a rational and ordered world. If we were to boil this down to the principle of ‘purpose and feedback’ - what is the viruses purpose and what does it need to thrive? The virus is a living thing. It wants to infect and occupy as many hosts as it can but the paradox to that is that its host will get ill and potentially die. Which is why we see symptoms like coughing which is crucial to get the virus air-borne and find new hosts.
The purpose and feedback of the virus are very clear. It wants to infect as many hosts as possible.
Where it gets more nuanced is when you move away from the virus and observe the human. Everything in life can be observed through the lens of purpose and feedback. What is your primary purpose and what feedback do you look for to arrive at that point?
The global leaders around the world are taking very different approaches to this virus because their primary purposes are so different and therefore they are looking for different sources of feedback. Some leaders are driven to uphold the economy, some are focusing on public health, and when Iook to Ireland it seems that their primary goal is to put the country into a mini-hibernation. This decision has driven public policy, health policy and fiscal policy in response to the crisis.
The same driving force of purpose and feedback that drives the response of the nations around the world is the same for us as individuals. Right now we are all living within the bubble of our own lives and it provides a great opportunity to observe our own rational and irrational behaviour. Judgement is not necessary but observation is.