Once upon a time, we placed a lot of value in members of our community who put themselves forward for public service. Doctors, nurses, and midwives were the pillars of the local community and Members of Parliament were people we admired and respected. But that was then.
The past weeks have simply been a more acute snapshot of the last 15 years when it comes to our perception of the "folks on the hill". We have lambasted the differences of opinion between the parties in the Executive, decried the complicated public health messaging as being too much and then too little, criticised the pubs being open and then the pubs not being open, and called the restrictions too penal and then not penal enough.
For our politicians, our civil servants, our special advisers, our Chief Medical Officer, our contract-tracers and everyone else, this is the single biggest challenge they have ever faced in their working lives.
On the one hand, you have a novel virus which is highly infectious, deadly to some groups of the population, completely invisible and undetectable at the point of transmission and for which there is no present cure, or vaccine.
On the other hand, you have the economic livelihoods of vast swathes of the population, an economy that has shrunk by 20%, already making the 2008 financial crisis look like a misplaced piggy bank, and the threat of a lengthy and deep recession which would be catastrophic for the lives of thousands of people.
But only one thing is certain: there are no winners, only losers. As a minister, or an MLA, the decision you are making is which group of people lose the most. Try sleeping with that on your mind.
Having spent much of my life working closely with politicians in Scotland and Ireland, some of whom are close friends, you see the sobering reality of what their lives are really like. If you think it's all schmoozing, receptions and interviews, you've been watching too much TV.
It's missed birthdays, school plays and wedding anniversaries, seven-day working, sexual harassment, blatant misogyny and verbal abuse while buying your groceries.
It's being spat on, cancelled holidays, being assaulted, late-night phone calls and appalling failures in public administration which lead to the most horrendous circumstances for constituents and for which you are often powerless to rectify.
It's journalists constantly trying to catch you doing something you shouldn't be, journalists trying to catch you making a mistake which could end your career and all with the general view among voters that you're corrupt, power-hungry and do no work.
But it's okay, the folks on the hill make loads of money, don't they? Let's explore that.
The people we choose to represent us and make decisions about things like our children's schooling, the care our elderly parents receive and the myriad of other things that impact every aspect of public life make £51,000 per year.
Right now, you could be the head of finance at Lisburn and Castlereagh Council, not even a director's post, for £58,421-£61,671.
Some public sector chief executives make well over double the amount of money than the people whose decisions they are often tasked with delivering.
A certain well-known radio and television personality makes nearly eight times more than some of the elected representatives they scrutinise.
There is no doubt that £51,000 is a good salary, especially in Northern Ireland, where our wages lag behind the rest of the UK.
There's no doubt that some of the behaviour of our politicians has not been worthy of public office and deserves rebuke, but instances of that behaviour happen in every public institution all over the world. The exception doesn't make the rule.
We didn't begrudge nurses who went on strike because they rightly felt they didn't earn what their work was worth. We all rightly clapped outside our front doors for our amazing NHS workers on Thursday nights for their dedication in the most difficult of circumstances.
But here's my question to you: how many hours do you think Arlene Foster, or Michelle O'Neill, or Robin Swann, or Michael McBride have slept in the last six months?
If you want to know why we are not getting a steady flow of talented, compassionate and experienced young people entering politics here to try and make a difference, it's because we pay them badly for the work they do and we treat them worse than dirt.
If you also want to know why coronavirus is running out of control in our communities, it isn't because we don't know the key messages. The uncomfortable truth is that it is our behaviour that has got us to this point, not the folks on the hill.
As usual, our love for a good moral outrage here, which fills our front pages and airwaves week on week, distracts us from addressing the issues immediately in front of us.
There will be a time when our elected representatives should be held to account for our Government's handling of this pandemic, but, when that time comes, we best make sure we leave room for our own large slice of the blame.
Gareth Brown is a political commentator, former Cabinet Office and Stormont adviser and public affairs specialist @garfbrown