Covid: Creator of Hypocrites
The Covid-19 pandemic is one of few things I have witnessed in my life that has affected nearly every person on earth in one way or another. From those who have been sick to those who have lost a friend or family member, from workers taking cuts to employers making sacrifices, from students learning remotely to people who just wanted to catch a flight, it is hard to imagine that anyone’s life has gone on untouched. Yet—even in the midst of our new masked and maddened world, many leaders are best defined by one word: hypocrites.
Boris Johnson—the Prime Minister of England—is a picture book example of this hypocrisy. Beginning in May, 2020 and many times since then, Johnson has blatantly ignored his own Covid guidelines. He and the Tory Party have thrown multiple parties and large social events behind closed doors, and press leaks are just now starting to uncover the extent to which Johnson disregarded the very policies he put into place.
Novak Djokovic—celebrity and tennis star—illegally altered documents to enter Australia unvaccinated. While he was eventually deported after many back and forths with the immigration department, this example only further illustrates the ways that people with high status have tried to circumvent rules that everyone else must follow.
While it’s easy to point fingers abroad, this is also an issue—and not just a partisan one—in the United States. At the end of his term, the Trump administration pushed back against new science and information regarding Covid. The far-right republican party became a haven for anti-vaxxers, and then Trump himself got vaccinated despite his inflamed anti-vax rhetoric. On the other hand, Biden’s campaign and agenda hinged largely on a promise to endorse science and listen to the CDC, yet Biden hesitated to reopen schools even after the green light was given.
So why do our leaders change their minds? Why do we see hypocrisy as clear as day in our politics and the world at large? There is no one right answer, but the closest justification is the virus itself. Every time Covid-19 mutates, every time a new surge grips a country, restrictions shift. We are living in an ever-changing reality that is both exhausting and tempting for people with authority to disregard.
What we need is accountability for those in charge. We need the standard to be set that this is a global entanglement. In order to move forward, we need celebrities, the mega-rich, lawmakers, and leaders to remember that rules apply to them too, and that every hypocrite they make of themselves sets all of us back.