Taking on COVID-19: The enemy of our enemy is unity

Daily FTMarch 30, 2020

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Taking on COVID-19: The enemy of our enemy is unity
Taking on COVID-19
Krishantha Prasad Cooray

NATIONS are best tested in times of crisis. This is when our humanity should rise over self-interest and when all differences should be put aside. This is when intellect, indefatigable energy, absolute resoluteness, and the courage and conviction to stand up and be counted all come together. This is when populations are united into nations. This is when an aggregate of individuals become a community. This is the moment of the team.

In other words, COVID-19 has created a crisis which has to be dealt with collectively or not at all. When an infected person conceals the fact, it is criminal. When individuals act on their own steam, even with the best of intentions, it can make matters worse. Needless to say when anyone tries to make capital out of a crisis it is absolutely disgraceful, whether it is someone trying to exploit vulnerability to make a quick buck or a politician trying to get an edge over rivals.

At times like this it is tempting for the Opposition to complain that what needs to be done is not being done, go into a prescriptive mode and even rant and rave. But this is not the time to quibble over trivialities. There’s a difference between politically motivated tirades and constructive criticism. The opposition needs to remain supportive of the government until the crisis has passed.

The onus, of course, is on the Government. It is easy to find fault, but we need to understand that it is a challenge unlike anything any government has had to deal with. We can only hope that errors will be rectified quickly and effectively, and that the overall response is a product of the best minds and best hearts in the country, working in concert.

“We have to fight this battle together. We have to forget our differences and recognise the need to play for the same team. Unity will be our strength, diversity will be our power and discipline will be our victory. This country belongs to all of us equally so everyone must contribute equally to win this battle. Collectively there is nothing we cannot achieve. This is not the time for politics whether at a national or global level. Politics will divide us. Political parties represent groups of people. Our task is to saves the lives of all our people. We will win only when we come together. Not just our nation, but our world too must unite, overcoming our geopolitical differences to defeat COVID-19 as a community of nations.”

The above quote comes from no one. But I feel it would be wonderful for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa or other senior leaders to say something on these lines. It would be as important for all sections of the Opposition to echo these sentiments. Best, of course, would be for all of them to turn sentiment into words and words into action.

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March 30, 2020