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We are Witnessing the Rise and Fall of Nations

By Nicola Rakuljic

We are witnessing the rise and fall of nations.

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a great deal about the world that we live in: notably, how interconnected each country is to one another. So when I say that we are witnessing the rise and fall of nations, really, it seems to be more that we are witnessing the world trying to figure out if it’s going to fall to ruins, or if we’re going to rise above this together.

A few weeks ago I would have been inclined to say that we, Australia, were definitely on track to start rising. But, sadly, events in the past few weeks that have led to a resurgence in cases in Australia has me doubting that. And, so I look towards the countries that have done the quote-on-quote ‘best’ during this pandemic. This website,, helpfully shows the countries that are currently doing well. Included in these countries are Finland, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and Taiwan. Australia is currently in the section of countries that need to take action.

America, unsurprisingly, is also a part of this section, with around 66,000 new cases per day. My father has described the situation in America currently as ‘Nero-fiddling-while-Rome-burnt’. Which leads me to think about what is similar between Nero and Donald Trump, and I think about how neither of them were there to help their countries. Nero was off in Greece, ruining the Empire through deciding to get rid of taxes for Greece and increasing taxes everywhere else. Donald Trump seems to always be on the golf course, and flipping back and forth between what he thinks about masks and how America is handling the pandemic.

However, I think that there may be a better metaphor for him that comes from the American comedian John Mulaney. He referenced him in a skit of his in 2018 as ‘a horse loose in a hospital’. Most people have never seen a horse in a hospital before, and have no idea what it might do, or who it might hurt.

In our current crisis, we need better leaders who are able to be like doctors in a hospital, rather than a horse. Who are able to recognise the threat of COVID-19 not only for their own country, but for the other countries around them, and for the world.

We need leaders that recognise that they cannot leave these mistakes and wrongdoings for the next generation to deal with. We need leaders that actively take steps forward in matters of human rights.

I implore you all to engage in the world around you, and to recognise the events happening as things that can be repeated. Because we are the next generation of leaders that will have to stand up and fix the world if nothing is done now. We are the next generation that may have to deal with this again.

We are witnessing the rise and fall of nations. The rise of our generation into doing something better, into actively making the world better for everyone. The fall of apathy and discrimination and desensitisation, because when you become desensitised to something, you are subconsciously telling yourself that it is ok, that it is acceptable.

We need leaders that are empathetic and view their population as people, not numbers.

COVID-19 is one of the biggest examples I can think of right now that show how harmful desensitisation is. Because for every one of the 16 million cases of COVID-19 in the world, there is a person and their loved ones affected. There are communities affected. There are a thousand other people that know that person, that family, that community.

No person is purely just a number: they are all human beings that deserve to continue to live, to laugh with their family members and friends.

In such a connected world, no one is ever truly alone. No country is ever truly separated from others. We cannot exist without contact with others, in some form.

We need leaders that recognise this. We need to become leaders that recognise this.

We need leaders after us that recognise this.

That is the only way that we will rise.


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