The old adage suggests that a person's true character is revealed in a crisis. The same could be said of a country.
It takes a crisis as severe as the one we are living through to realise just how much the society we live in matters. We are suddenly bound together, reminded of our fragility and our dependence on others. Our health and safety depend on the actions of strangers, and on the protection offered by the state.
For some, this is a source of frustration and anger. It isn't easy to accept that the actions of others might determine our fate. The loss of control provokes resentment and rage.
For many, there is a sense of agency in being able to contribute to a greater effort, in being part of a collective with responsibility for others.
These conflicting narratives have played out in South Africa since the start of our national state of disaster in March, as they have surfaced elsewhere in the world. Different national responses to the pandemic have revealed as much about each country's values and beliefs as they have about the capacity of their health systems.
Some governments have done little to protect...