The world has come to see the country through that lens — through the actions of its blinkered politicians. To some American conservatives, Australia has even become the world’s largest prison — its citizens all but barred from leaving or returning to the country, with governments reflexively locking people in their homes at any sign of the virus.
But many Australians, while frustrated, see something else. Asked if the sacrifices have been worth it, they look to their neighbors, their community leaders, the millions of people waiting in long lines for vaccines and the tens of thousands of Australians who would have died of Covid without all the restrictions.
Their answer, with caveats or zeal, has generally been the same: “Yes, it is worth it,” or “Yes, we believe it will be.”
To understand why, I explored both Australias, the one with Covid, where roughly half the country’s population is trapped at home, and the one that has so far managed to keep it out. In both, I heard the same message — critics need to reimagine freedom not as the personal autonomy that Americans cherish but rather as a collective right with responsibilities. Epidemics are a test of society’s commitment to the greater good, they argue, and if any country has failed, it’s the United States, not Australia.
September 26, 2021 5:00 pm