Coronavirus doesn't see borders - it knows there are humans on both sides

Coronavirus doesn't see borders - it knows there are humans on both sides

AS the grim coronavirus stalks our country there is one thing for sure it is telling us. It is telling us that the borders we put between ourselves are ludicrous.

This is startlingly clear on this small island in the Atlantic.

The numbers we have been given, as the virus has spread, for confirmed cases in the Republic and confirmed cases in the North has made the border seem more irrelevant than ever before.

Illness is not halting on account of territorial boundaries. It just knows there are humans on both sides of it.

Information on the virus is changing by the hour and what is written this instant might be irrelevant by the time it is read. But it is telling us something about ourselves.

It is telling us that, even as we wait between governments, even as our system finds a way of enacting the result of the election, that our democracy is a fine thing.

It is a flawed thing, for sure, and there are some chancers bedevilling it, but it remains just about the best way we have of ordering our shared society.

In that way we should stop belittling it and stop deriding it.

I may fundamentally disagree with the likes of Simon Coveney, Simon Harris and Leo Varadkar, and believe me I do, but I don’t doubt their spirit of public service.

It’s not fashionable to say so but I’d say that about most of our TDs.

Politics is a much derided business these last few years and that has led us to the age of the vacuous showman, the time of Boris and Donald.

But they are not all like that.

In the face of a public health emergency our politicians, who will in all likelihood be out of their current jobs when a new government is formed, are doing their duty.

I don’t agree with their beliefs, I don’t like their ideology, but I’m glad they’ve enough public spirit to keep doing what they’re doing.

Even if they get it wrong. Even if they make mistakes.

I can disagree with them politically, and I fundamentally do, but I don’t have to hate and despise and belittle them.

They’re only human, after all. The virus can tell us that.

Likewise our society itself. Here in Ireland, as we currently dawdle in this uncertain land between rumour and restrictions, people are not eating each other alive.

They are not the selfish, I’m alright Jack, me feiners, some would have us believe.

They are humorous, polite, self-deprecating, caring, looking out for each other.

It’s a good reminder that for all we complain, that for all we knock ourselves that, you know, we’re not that bad.

Are we stupid and ignorant and crass? Yes, we are.

But we are also decent and kind and intelligent. Our society is a good thing. Our shared existence is precious.

And our shared existence goes beyond those divisions some would have us put such store by.

Brexit Britain, sailing off on its own, is no more immune from the virus than European Britain would have been.

Our borders, our flags, our this is us and that over there is you, is shown up for what it is. Imagined nonsense.

Because those under a different flag and those on the other side of the border are getting the virus too.

They are getting it because whether they are Irish or Italian, British or Japanese, American or Iranian, they are human beings and they have lungs and they have bloodstreams and they get ill and they get sick just the same.

And then they get better.

And we should remember that when this passes over.

Remember that what unites us is far more substantial, far deeper and enduring, than what keeps us apart.

Selfish, vain, egotistical people, yeah like Donald Trump, let’s not beat around the bush, thrive purely on keeping us divided.

But it’s not the truth. We’re not all like that.

We can put up walls in America, vote Brexit in Britain, have a border on a small island in the Atlantic, but the likes of this virus simply sweep by that.

When this is over and we get time to reflect let’s hope we remember that.

Let’s hope we decide to live in a world where borders are irrelevant and there are fewer walls not more.

Where those who seek to divide us lose and those who unite us win.

Where looking after each other matters whatever side of the border we’re on.