In the age of the coronavirus, more than ever, we are all just human
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In the age of the coronavirus, more than ever, we are all just human

THE coronavirus has stripped us all back.

Lockdown across the world has brought us all back to basics.

Some of us have been relatively comfortable inside that, inside our new limitations, some of us have had to endure real hardship.

Ireland is a wealthy country now, by any standards. Others across the world have had it far, far, harder.

The coronavirus has made us feel both fearful and able to count our blessings, our luck. This is a strange, strange age.

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It has also made us see many things with a clarity that our previously restless lives didn’t allow.

With coronavirus ignoring our nationality, ignoring our beliefs, we have been able to see what unites us is never too far away.

In the coronavirus age we are all just human.

The Irish government, whatever your politics, has behaved decently.

It has made mistakes, for sure, has failed at times, but not with bad intentions.

That much abused phrase ‘we are all in this together’ has been true simply because the virus has attacked our simple humanity, not our politics, our religion, our country.

And the other thing the virus, stripping us back to all the bare, straightforward things, has made us see is that certain values of justice and fairness and equality, belong to all of us.

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Irish, British, American, black, white, or brown.

The bad things like the virus apply to us all so why shouldn’t the good things too?

These are just human things.

So the arrogant hypocrisy of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings at No 10 Downing Street is offensive not just to British people but to Irish people too.

It is offensive not just to Labour voters and Remainers but to Tories and Leavers too.

Or at least it should be. It is not about politics, you see, it is about values.

It is about being human. If you think Dominic Cummings’ defence of the indefensible wasn’t compounded by him telling a blatant lie about forecasting the coronavirus, then I don’t know what to say to you.

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If you think Donald Trump’s authorising of tear gas and flash grenades against a peaceful protest in order to walk to a church and hold aloft the bible isn’t an abomination, then I don’t know what to say to you.

Because it is not political, you see. It is just human. These are simply human values.

To watch a policeman kill a man by kneeling on his neck didn’t shock my politics, it didn’t shock my Irishness, it didn’t shock my religion, it didn’t shock my image of the USA, it shocked my humanity.

If you think there are provisos in your response to that, if you think there is a but in the account of killing an unarmed man in such a brutal way, then I genuinely don’t know what to say to you.

Because, again, that is not about politics, it is not about left versus right, religious versus non-religious, or American versus Irish.

It is just about being a human.

We can disagree about how society should be organised but we can’t disagree about the rights and wrongs of killing someone, about arrogant lying, about an abuse of power.

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Because in the coronavirus age, especially now, that is just about being a human, isn’t it?

For instance, my intensely Irish Catholic upbringing hasn’t left me agreeing with the Church about much but even I could see the truth in a message from an adviser to the Vatican, the Rev. James Martin, in response to Trump’s actions.

“Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. God is not your plaything,” he said.

If you don’t see, if you refuse to see that, I have no hesitation in saying you are abandoning your basic humanity because your political bias is more important.

I’d love to write to you from these green Irish hills about the sunsets and the birds singing in the lockdown and the true gorgeousness of an early Irish summer.

I’d love to do all that, to get back to our own, essentially small, essentially Irish concerns.

But being a human in the age of the coronavirus, that’s just not possible.

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Because these days aren’t about being Irish or English, right wing or left wing, a Catholic or a Muslim.

They’re just about being human.