Most opinion columns in the media, including this one, can tend to take a negative view of the world, so let's start this one on a positive note.
Twice in our country's recent history, people have been subjected to cruel and vicious acts of terrorism. Twice the police responded unbelievably quickly to the atrocities and undoubtedly saved lives.
In London, Paris and the United States, attacks similar to the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings and the recent Auckland supermarket stabbings have shown us that the gunman or knife-wielding assailant was free to carry out his violent acts over a much longer period, with an inevitably worse casualty rate.
In the Christchurch massacres, it was eagle-eyed cops rushing to the scene of the tragedy that ensured a speedy halt to the killer's totally unexpected attacks. Nearly a hundred people were killed or wounded, but the total would have been much higher elsewhere in the South Island had the police not nailed the gunman so promptly.
In Auckland, as a result of a faulty anti-terrorism law that prevented the killer from being arrested for "planning" to commit an attack, a team of 30 armed police was tasked with closely following him. No sooner had he begun his attempt to slaughter innocent shoppers than he was shot dead, albeit not before he had wounded seven people, but the total could have been so much worse had the police not acted so quickly.
An old colleague of mine, a multiple-award-winning crime journalist in his day, contacted me to pay his own tribute saying, "Here, our cops were not just courageous, but ruthlessly efficient both times." That is so true.
Of course, Covid-19 played its part in the second attack. Fears were expressed about the deteriorating mental health of the Auckland assailant, but it appears Level 4 restrictions meant arranging a face-to-face meeting to assess his psychological state, which would have resulted in him being taken safely back into custody, could not speedily occur.
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The pandemic has had a huge effect on all our lives. A reduction from alert level 3 to what the Prime Minister calls Delta level 2 for the rest of the country, apart from Auckland, is still enormously restrictive. In indoor venues, it means scanning in, wearing masks and having no more than 50 customers seated for drinking and eating. In your own home, you're expected to note who has come over to see you in case there is a fresh outbreak.
It is the hospitality industry that perhaps faces the toughest time. Restaurants and bars face heavy fixed costs, with those in Auckland that cannot open bleeding money, and those in the rest of the country struggling under the weight of the Delta level 2 restrictions. This time around, Government handouts for them seem more constrained or insufficient. Some, maybe many, especially those in Auckland, seem likely to fail financially before the country can return to level 1 or better.
It sounds bleak, and it is. The impact of continued Covid-19 restrictions across the country must be having a psychological effect on people. I suspect you can see it in the mood of your family, neighbours and friends.
Progress out of this pandemic is painstakingly slow and frustrating, but it appears we have little choice in the matter. To retain my sanity, I've taken to reading and watching less bleak news and I've turned off RNZ National. There is a relentless bombardment of negative news that does wear you down. While we all wait endlessly, I suggest you try RNZ Concert for some soothing orchestral medicine.