Fintan O’Toole: If we must endure, please hit Covid on the head
Public losing faith in empty promises that pain will be matched by gain
A view of Dublin city centre on Sunday. The urge to downplay the grimness of what we have to endure has lessened the rewards of lockdown. Photograph: Tom Honan
The afterlife was invented because we need to imagine that suffering has a meaning, that it will be rewarded in the end. In a more secular era, we accept collective pain if we are convinced there will be an equal and opposite collective gain. The great problem of public policy right now is that this faith is being tested to destruction.
If we lose the belief that the things we are enduring have meaning, there is only absurdity. This is the danger of the moment we are in. A sense of futility hangs over everything. The Government has to think radically and urgently about how to restore a conviction that all the harsh measures we must again endure are worth it.