Moral Leadership in the Coronavirus
Or Why the Experts are Our Moral Leaders
In a time of crisis we tend to not only reevaluate ourselves but our values and morals as well. We become scared, uncertain, in some cases terrified. With this comes the natural sense that we're meant to be doing something, that we're meant to be reacting in some way, to counter the major issue at hand. We start to look for advice, groping for some kind of reassurance in a world that’s changed dramatically over a very short period of time.
The problem is that we often look to the wrong people and groups—governments, politicians, economists, bankers—for moral direction. We think that these are the right sources to turn to when, in reality, they’re anything but.
In the case of the current coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic that's circulating around the world, this is definitely what's happening. A direct consequence of this is that one's understanding of right and wrong, their grasp of their own conscience, in a crisis situation becomes confused and misguided. If people looked to the experts and professionals they'd know how to react morally. Not only for themselves (and this is a key point) but for society, civilisation, at large.
The other problem, of course, is that politicians and even whole governments, those in the West, for example, believe they possess a higher moral authority than the best health expert out there merely because their political power, educational background, or social status dictates it.
The same applies to economists and those who generally deal in economic matters: they only interpret such crises as a pandemic from an economic standpoint in the sense of how it will affect governments, banks, and other large companies, therefore believing that people should and can only share the same view. This is terribly misleading, even dangerous, and completely misses the point of what’s happening and why it’s happening.
Nothing is said about health or healthcare; nothing is said about ordinary people, the most vulnerable among us, from the marginalised to the homeless; but, most importantly, nothing is really said about how individuals and indeed communities should think and act in a moral way to respond to what's going on and keep themselves safe.
Nothing is said about any of that, and it’s deeply shameful. In the end, many people, including those who are suffering from the virus, are likely to be left on their own, and this is becoming more noticeable every day in supposedly indestructible countries like England and the United States where not enough moral authority is being given to the real moral authorities—health experts, doctors, scientists, general medical professionals, basically anyone who has studied the crisis and knows exactly what’s going on.
Overrated and barely articulate personalities like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump (I’d even include Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in there as well) are being given far too much authority, far too much trust, and they probably don’t even realise it or care.
We should be listening to the experts, not those who are pretending to be one. For those who disagree with me, they should question whether they're an expert or not, especially when it comes to an enormous health crisis that's already claimed over ten thousand lives. The answer? Most likely not.
Most people aren't experts, and the sooner one becomes aware of this, the better. Your normal expert doesn't necessarily demand attention; they simply do their job, as opposed to what, say, Trump says or does on a daily basis. They simply know what they’re talking about. That's why our wisest moral reaction here is to listen to them, and the future, history as it will inevitably be, will reflect whether we did it or not.