I can't draw, but if I could, and was trying to draw a cartoon for these times, it would show God and an angel contemplating the Earth from on high. And the angel would be saying to God: "Have you tried turning it off and on again."
Our lockdown halfway point was 100 days since the World Health Organisation was notified about Covid-19. One hundred days was all it took to turn the world upside down.
There's a feeling abroad that the pandemic crisis offers the opportunity for a reset on a large scale. With the pause button pressed more or less firmly around the planet we can see what is necessary or not; what works and what doesn't; and what things could be done differently. There's even a name for people who see this as an opportunity: apocaloptimists.
Climate change activists are sure that now people have shown they can put up with inconvenience for a long-term good they will be ever-so eager to apply their newfound discipline to saving the planet. That's possible. It's also possible that many people will take the attitude that they've done quite enough for now thank you and we'd just like to go back to normal. Living in an isolated New Zealand, bartering feijoas for homemade cider over your front gates with your neighbours, will be a source of pride for only so long before people want to get back to their artisan butchers and liquor stores.
Nevertheless, it looks like New Zealand will be well-placed on the other side of the pandemic – and earlier than most countries thanks to the relative ease with which we can protect our borders. (The government under Covid-19 has effectively built that wall that the US president has had his heart set on.)
Global trade has made the world go around for centuries. But now we can see that countries may not be as dependent on each other as we thought. Even The Economist has noted "a retreat from freewheeling global supply chains".
On the other side of the pandemic, this country will be a bit cleaner and greener than it was a month ago. And, contagion-free, we will be an attractive prospect for anyone wanting to live somewhere without the risk of Covid-19.
Naturally, therefore, people's thoughts are turning to how we can exploit this situation to our advantage. Pharmaceutical policy consultant Matt Bowden has suggested "people will want to escape here so let's capitalise on that tourist demand by delivering precisely the services they need and pick up our economy again".
Bowden is an alternative thinker on many fronts, but his idea has been echoed by the conservative likes of business journalist Fran O'Sullivan and Wellington businessman Tory Bowker, who has mooted a scheme in which, according to Newshub, "2000 foreigners invest roughly $50 million in New Zealand in exchange for a visa and the ability to relocate here".
Previous high-value immigration schemes have had mixed results, drawing the billionaire bunker brigade who haven't really added much value unless you own a bar in Queenstown.
What Grant Robertson called a once-in-a-century shock to the economy is also a once-in-a-century opportunity.
Whatever form it assumes, there is definitely an opportunity to be taken here, but it will need us to carry on in the same spirit of initiative and energy we have shown under lockdown. Which brings to mind the observation of French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I've never been exactly sure what that means, but I have a horrible feeling we're about to find out.
I was going to finish this column with a joke about Donald Trump's widely mocked statement "People are dying who have never died before." But it turns out he never said it. Fake news.