The Macquarie Dictionary defines empathy as “the mental entering into the feeling or spirit of a person or thing; appreciative perception or understanding. Empathy comes from the Greek word empátheia. In German the word is “Einfühlung”.
Whatever its origin, or its roots, empathy is not part of the game plan of the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Nor is empathy part of the lexicon of the prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison.
Yes, I know he’s a good Christian, and Premier Berejiklian is part of the Armenian diaspora, renowned for its ancient Christian faith, but not once has either leader expressed a modicum of empathy. And yet this is what we the people yearn for from our leaders in this crisis of the century.
People are dying from Covid-19. We are enduring an epidemic within a pandemic, and yet all we get is an obligatory “heartfelt sadness for the loss of a loved one” day in and day out at press conferences.
It is not as though we the people do not have a collective memory of the calamity of epidemics past. Of course, we do!
Many of us remember our dead loved ones via some of the finest music, art and literature created in the last 100 years or so.
Who among us can hold back tears as we listen to Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto from his Symphony Number Five, also known as Death in Venice, a novel, by the German writer Thomas Mann? Or the remarkable Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner. The German word, Liebestod, means love and death.
This is now the daily reality for hundreds of Australians.
Thomas Mann, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler… each had one thing in common. All created art in the shadow of disease and death.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella, which killed my oldest sister, Scarlet Fever, Polio… all thankfully scourges of the past. And we have the music of the three artists, to help us come to terms with the unspeakable loss of a loved one.
And then we have Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian.
I don’t intend to enumerate all their shortcomings in this essay; the mainstream media is awash with analysis. But I choose to focus on one aspect of the current calamity which, in my opinion, draws a line beneath the lack of empathy of both leaders.
Look no further than the 2021 Closing the Gap Report.
And then watch NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro describe the daily Covid-19 calamity occurring in Aboriginal communities in Far Western New South Wales.
Empathy? It does not exist. Instead, we get a daily regurgitation of abject nonsense like this excretable example published on June 11th 2021, by the Voice of Freedom itself, The Institute of Public Affairs.
If you can’t be bothered reading this tripe, at least hold your nose and follow the bouncing ball over this shocker of a paragraph written by a nobody called Daniel Wild, who describes himself thus: Daniel previously worked at the Commonwealth Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet where he analysed global and domestic macroeconomic policy.
Take a deep breath… and go.
“The NSW Government has been far from perfect in its handling of the virus. But at least it doesn’t place residents under 23-hour-a day house arrest because someone hundreds of kilometres away may have walked past someone who may have had Covid. Instead, NSW has tolerated a small number of new daily cases of coronavirus without resorting to lockdowns.”
For the record this apathetic twaddle was originally published in The Herald-Sun.
Now fast forward to Tuesday August 31, 2021 when New South Wales listed 1,164 Covid-19 cases and four deaths. In Victoria, the number is 76. None in the Liberal state of Tasmania, none in the Liberal state of South Australia (as of August 30) ditto, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, Labor states.
Until we change this government, we can look forward to months of apathy: “a lack of feeling; the absence of passion, emotion, excitement, or energy. Lack of interest in things which others find moving or exciting. Apathía, from the Greek apátheia, insensibility.”
As for me, I’ll take my empathy via these six minutes of perfection:
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