Lockdown Reflections Day 17
Leo Varadkar is the Prime Minister of Ireland. Before going into politics he was a doctor. His husband is also a doctor, as are many of his family members. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, he has re-registered as a doctor and is volunteering one day a week at a hospital for Covid-19 patients.
Cyril Ramaphosa is South Africa’s President. Last week, while announcing that the lockdown of citizens had to be extended, he also announced that he and senior government leaders were taking a 33% pay cut and donating the money to a Solidarity Fund set up to help small businesses and individuals impacted by Covid-19.
In the grand scheme of things, these are small gestures that make little actual difference. But we recognise their symbolism. And we value the fact that leaders like this show empathy and solidarity with the people they serve.
There are also numerous examples of business leaders taking salary cuts so that the lowest paid staff in their companies don’t need to.
In different ways, all these leaders are saying: “we are in this too”. Of course, they’re not “in this” in the same way as the more vulnerable people of their countries and companies are. But these are still important gestures in bringing people together to stand united against a disease that knows no barriers of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, education or wealth.
What other examples are there right now of leaders showing solidarity with their people? These feel like good news stories to share on Easter Sunday, a day that reminds Christians that in the midst of darkness, there is always the hope of light. And that in dark times, there is comfort in knowing that our leaders know - and share - our pain and deepest fears, and will help us overcome them.