Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"Aotearoa"

The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu 
from Queenstown, New Zealand
photo credit: Nick Bramhall Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0

… is often translated from the Māori to describe New Zealand as the “land of the long white cloud.” 

Although New Zealanders see the unwelcome pall of Covid-19 drifting away for now, they might feel like their All Blacks rugby team just after many a match – elated at a win and yet to recover from the effort.

First Sunrise
Alternate translations of Aotearoa are “long bright world” or “land of abiding day.” 

As a recent writer for Politico put it “the first major country to see the sun rise every day, may also be the first to get a good look at life after Covid-19.”

A Leader Matters
Certainly, the decisive statements and actions of Prime Minister Ardern seemed to do the trick, expecting the best of New Zealanders, who delivered.

It's a great case for what happens when you can trust your government.

Whatever quibbles or more that the future brings as we learn more about this virus, what we learned for now and then is that a leader can matter to head off mass suffering. 

People Matter Too
In some other countries, I’m just hoping that a version of Leo Tolstoy’s thoughts on great military leadership results. 

At the close of War and Peace, he claimed great military successes resulted from something like an infectious collective action among the troops, in concert with unfolding events, rather than any great value in what a leader said or did.

In many places, with medical staff, other first responders, state governors, local officials, and individuals increasingly taking actions that are often complementary, thankfully it’s starting to look like Tolstoy was onto something.

The “troops,” that is, local leaders, workers, and other citizens are making progress.