The heroism of the community of Mann in responding to the Coronavirus disease has been remarkable – in many quietly courageous ways that are not obvious at first glance. The sacrifices of the people on the front-line of fighting this disease are clear to all, but the quiet sacrifices of many Manx people has been inspiring to me, and shown the strength of the special brand of Manx nationalism.
This is a commitment to our nation that is powerful, courageous, and sacrificial: it has seen many working families sacrifice their income and their livelihood, so that other members of their community can live and prosper. Why do we sacrifice for our community? It is because the Manx people have a quiet love for their nation, their community.
Currently, there are members of our community who do not have much savings, and did not have high income, staying at home and sacrificing their financial security for people they have never met. They are sacrificing their own comfort and their own financial safety for the benefit of people who live elsewhere on this island. So many of these people will never get a thank you for their losses – but rather, they’ll be called once more to go back to work to put bread on the table for their families.
In effect, Manx people have willingly assented to putting our economy in a coma. This suspension of economic activity is hurting many people, especially the self-employed small business operators and manual workers who do not have the luxury of working from home. These Manx heroes are saying a life is a life is a life, and they are sacrificing so much to protect others at great expense to themselves: barely considering the cost they are paying, nor considering the cost of what they are saving.
These sacrifices are huge: businesses are shutting down, jobs are being destroyed, even solitary gardeners are staying at home to comply with the Government’s rules, despite there being little chance that such solitary workers would interact with anyone during their work day. This is completely discrediting the caricature that some people falsely make of the Isle of Man – that we are only driven by money, and the Manx courage is destroying false claims that everything is for sale on the Isle of Man as a tax haven unmoored from morality.
While the early data about the virus is unreliable and somewhat confusing, we generally know that the virus kills a large percentage of old people (especially those with other illnesses) and relatively few young people. If the Isle of Man was a bastion of unfettered capitalism where money and treasure was the only thing that mattered, we would not be doing this. But we are doing this – because of our love for our community.
The Manx people have not spoken loudly. They, instead, have said something much more powerful by letting their actions do the talking: They have debunked all the critics of our community by staying at home. Many working Manx families are struggling already, and that nervousness will increase in coming days and weeks – but these Manx families have already sacrificed so much over the last few weeks.