Our response to Covid-19 offers an opportunity for Ireland to be its own hero. This crisis is an accelerant for recently emerging successful changes in our society. If we eventually succeed in managing this crisis well, then we must not lose sight of the reality that it will be an achievement by us all.
Already, 4.8m people are successfully adjusting to the loss of jobs as well as restricted family contact and socialising without significant protest or disagreement. There are no troops on the streets with loudspeakers in Ireland; they are not needed. We are doing this for ourselves and for each other, without much fuss. We are a good people.
This success has not emerged out of the blue. It has been part of a distinctive, emerging pattern of many successful, small steps in new directions that we have recently chosen for ourselves. We were ahead of most of Europe when we all agreed to avoid plastic bags; to accept the smoking ban and to change ourselves with our referendums.
These have rapidly changed us from one of the most socially conservative to one of most tolerant and liberal countries in the world. Too many people measure Ireland's success in terms of GDP per capita, but we are more than that. We have succeeded in the social as well as economic spheres.
To some, perhaps, our achievements are not as dramatic or tangible as the successes of big powerful nations who build aircraft carriers or huge bridges, yet our successes are great at another level because these changes are made by everybody, for everybody. We have changed everybody's life.
Now we are faced with a challenge to succeed at something without precedence. All around the world there is evidence of how well, or how poorly, different societies are dealing with Covid-19.
Success will be measured by minimising the losses of lives and suffering - but also by recovering quickly and adopting successfully to a new world.
When this is over, Ireland's goal must be to be counted among those countries who dealt competently with this crisis.
Over the next 16 weeks, this crisis will unfold in a number of different stages. We are still only at the beginning of a process that has the potential to transform this country in an episode of nation-building that will be slow and subtle, yet unprecedented for us.
This process is likely to reveal the existence, or the absence, of an important component of all successful nations. A sense of being part of something that is bigger than each of us.
In Ireland, our sense of being a part of something bigger has largely been confined to things that are enjoyable, such as the achievements of national sports teams or the Eurovision. To date, we have conspicuously lacked the hard edge of other small European nations, such as Portugal or Denmark, who can be very assertive in matters of national entitlement.
Portugal and Ireland are about the same size - and though Ireland is considerably richer - we appear to be incapable of the type of confidence that allows us to build something like the Vasco da Gama Bridge, Europe's second longest bridge.
It is breathtaking to look out across the Tagus River and to see a 12km-long bridge vanishing into the distance. How could any country have the self-confidence to conceive of building such a thing?
The answer to the 'how?' question is easy. Tiny Portugal used to be the masters of huge colonies all around the world. Today 260m people in places that include Brazil, still speak Portuguese. They are used to thinking big.
One of the legacies of being a colonising country is the way that it gives its citizens a sense of being a part of something bigger. Every man and woman in France or Britain feels a sense of pride as they see their national flag on a nuclear submarine - they feel that they are part of something that is bigger than them.
These types of sentiments are, rightly, regarded with suspicion in these days of petty nationalists. This does not alter the importance of a society being anchored in values that are based on more than sports teams or songs.
We constantly forget that Ireland is one of the few EU member states that wasn't a coloniser - quite the opposite, we are the only one that used to be a colony.
This creates an indelible difference in outlook which leads to an almost reflexive looking elsewhere for leadership, inspiration - or heroes.
Our response to Covid-19 offers an opportunity for Ireland to be its own hero. In individuals this is regarded as being a critical milestone in maturing into a fully functional adult. Over the next four months our changed circumstances will fundamentally alter our sense of what it means to be Irish.
It takes about two months for us to acquire a simple new habit and about four months to learn completely new behaviours. This is why basic military training all around the world usually lasts for 16-18 weeks.
By late June, we will be a very different country, with new habits of discipline and domesticity; new ways of working and new ways of living our lives. By the autumn we will have forgotten that it was ever any other way.
Take, for example, the emerging new role of An Post in rural communities. After many years of trying to re-imagine their role, the Covid-19 crisis, in the space of less than a week, has utterly transformed the role of the postman or woman.
On the initiative of individuals as well as the Communication Workers' Union working with An Post, they have agreed to transform themselves into an exciting new agent of stability and care in rural communities.
In their new role, each week, they will be looking in on the older and vulnerable people along their delivery route; relaying requests for groceries or medicines back to the local HSE team while also supporting deliveries of other supplies, such as medicine.
There are even plans for delivering newspapers to ensure that people have reliable sources of information. Could there be a better example than the constructive, imaginative and compassionate re-invention of the postman as a local hero?
This crisis is offering an opportunity to examine ourselves along our road towards creating a new and distinctive country that is characterised by being purposeful and disciplined, yet compassionate.
The Covid-19 crisis may help to amplify changes in Ireland's values, for the better, as an accelerant for Ireland's emergence as a more mature country that succeeds at the things that really matter.
When this is all over, a quote from John F Kennedy will seem particularly apt - "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."
If we succeed in containing this crisis by minimising loss, recovering quickly and adopting successfully to a new world, we must not lose sight of the reality that the biggest success story is that it was achieved by all of us working together with common purpose. We will be our own heroes.
If our postmen and postwomen, overnight, can become part social worker, part nursing assistant and part deliveryman, then what else are we capable of?
We may surprise ourselves even more in the coming weeks.