Room for kindness under traffic lights
Us versus them. Shape up or ship out. You are either for us or against us. These sayings don’t really conjure up the team of 5 million other countries have watched combat a pandemic. They do, however, show where Aotearoa is heading with the incoming traffic light system. A new norm for two categories of people; vaccinated versus unvaccinated.
In times of crisis, we can all understand the combination of being time-poor and the pressure to act swiftly. Making rapid decisions under these circumstances is acceptable.
The COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill—the legislation that enacts the traffic light system—has recently come under fire. Despite being successfully passed under urgency, this bill has raised concerns among a whole host of people including; legal experts, the Human Rights Commission, opposition parties, and even the Speaker of the House. These groups all note the peculiar nature of the bill’s submission, one done with secrecy and far from transparent.
In times of crisis, we can all understand the combination of being time-poor and the pressure to act swiftly. Making rapid decisions under these circumstances is acceptable. In passing this most recent bill, the Government has opted to bypass the safeguards and democratic measures that protect New Zealanders.
When our nation’s leadership disregard these precautions and scrutiny, they minimise or obscure wide-ranging ramifications—including the creation of a two-tiered society.
Ordinarily, legislative changes should undergo parliamentary and democratic processes—like select committee, public consultation, and debates in the House. All these processes act to ensure legislation is properly vetted, and that flaws and weaknesses are mitigated before it’s passed. The Government has acted in their own interests, rushing to have legislation catch up with pre-set dates, and preventing due process.
When our nation’s leadership disregard these precautions and scrutiny, they minimise or obscure wide-ranging ramifications—including the creation of a two-tiered society. This simply highlights a growing need for balance and respect in our response to COVID-19.
The need goes much deeper than this, however. We need a modus operandi that respects and upholds the mana of democratic processes. After all, these processes act to protect the interests of all. We need a government that considers opposing voices and perspectives, and includes the public. After all, this legislation will have far-reaching consequences for all New Zealanders.
The Latin phrase, nemo resideo, meaning, ‘no man left behind,’ serves as a reminder for our politicians and leaders.
A balanced strategy in tackling COVID-related issues calls for more nuanced conversations that factor in the long- and short-term costs of our response. It demands more courageous and creative solutions from our leaders, solutions that unite rather than divide our society. It calls for legislative conditions that enable businesses, organisations, and communities to have options that are not dependant on vaccination status.
The Latin phrase, nemo resideo, meaning, ‘no man left behind,’ serves as a reminder for our politicians and leaders. In forging a path out of lockdowns and returning to a sense of normality, the approach from the Government has to include making sure no one in our “team” is left behind. As the country adopts the traffic light framework, let us all play our part by demonstrating aroha and kindness to our fellow man—whether they are vaccinated or not.go back