Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: Us and Them during the coronavirus pandemic

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When the pandemic first hit last year, Britain was already becoming a divided place politically. Of course, there have always been opposing points of view and political parties vying for power but, for the most part, debates were generally good natured. And then the EU referendum happened and the opposing sides were called ‘racists’ and ‘snowflakes’, debate got more and more fiery. When the result to leave – a close result – came in, the temperature became even more heated. There were calls for a second referendum; political parties stood for staying in, another vote or leaving; there were arguments among families and friends. Brexit, as the referendum result was called, dominated the news to the extent that I am not entirely sure what else was going on in the world in those days. On the news in the evenings I could see EU protests behind the newsreader and at times I felt a sense of dread. People were very angry on both sides.

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And then Brexit was forgotten about as if by magic. A pandemic hit the world and the news focused on that. And at the start, apart from the toilet paper wars in the supermarkets when shoppers greedily bought up all the remaining toilet rolls, there felt a sense of unity (to me at least). This type of crisis had never happened before in our lifetime and although we were stepping away from each other on our daily walks in case of infection, there still felt a sense of camaraderie. There was a NHS clap on Thursdays, 8pm sharp; Captain Tom with his £30 million fundraising walk around his garden; morale-boosting dances on TikTok; volunteers helping out… We were on the same page at last. Or so it seemed.

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Except a darker, more judgemental side to humanity started coming out. From the best of intentions, the NHS clap became an excuse by some ‘clappers’ to judge their non-clapping neighbours. And some of those who didn’t clap couldn’t understand what they saw as the ‘virture signalling’ of the gesture. Lockdowns had many controversies in themselves. Some people wanted to stay locked down until the virus completely went away. Others believed lockdown was unnecessary and wrong from the very beginning. There were bickerings about the lockdown rules themselves.

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It became illegal not to wear a mask in certain places (unless people had an exemption). I had no issue wearing one although they did make my glasses steam up! However, some people had genuine reasons for not being able to wear one. I know a man who, when visiting a book shop, was asked if he had asthma attacks when he told the bookseller he had asthma (one of the exemptions). Rather a personal question – needless to say, he didn’t buy anything from that shop.

I came across a Mumsnet forum about masks on the internet. A victim of sexual assault wasn’t able to wear a mask as covering her mouth up brought back horrific memories and gave her panic attacks. This was no excuse for some of the virtuous members of Mumsnet though, who always wore masks to look after others. The sexual assault victim was being selfish of course, at least in their eyes.

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The latest bone of contention are the vaccines. I’ve had both so am no anti-vaxxer but believe that people should have a choice as to what goes into their body. But there is talk about vaccine passports (maybe it’s fine for big gatherings, if it’s on a strictly temporary basis – such as during an emergency, and there is an alternative of a test, but what if this isn’t the case?) I am no conspiracy theorist, but I do think that while we may currently accept we’re living in unprecedented times, we should always be aware of potential slippery slopes.

I have a friend who is reluctant to get a certain vaccine because there have been blood clots in her family and there have been reports of vaccine-related clots. She decided to wait until another vaccine became available. A very valid reason but I suspect she too feels judged.

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A lot has happened over the past year. Some people have died, have suffered, are still suffering from the illness itself. Some are vulnerable because of health conditions and are frightened of getting Covid. Some haven’t been able to see their loved ones for many months because they live far away, in another country, or maybe they’re in a care home with strict rules. Lockdown isolation and loneliness has damaged some people’s mental health. And then others have lost jobs, businesses, wages, homes… And then there are those who are terrified of us all gradually slipping into a dystopian society. Who would have dreamt two years ago we would have accepted lockdowns? It would have been unheard of!

I read somewhere, we are all in the same storm but we’re in different boats. We all have our fears, but they may be of very different things and unfortunately there seems to be no one-fit-all solution. One person’s answer (lockdown) may feel like a recipe for destitution to another. Another solution which aims to save jobs (ending lockdown) may feel like inviting death.

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Like Brexit, it often feels that society is becoming divided into ‘them’ and ‘us’. The non-mask wearers, mask wearers, vaccinated, non-vaccinated, the pro-lockdown, the anti-lockdown, the old, the young … Instead of an intelligent and measured debate, both sides resort to name calling – the sheeple and the covidiots. The lockdown lovers and the granny killers.

Like Brexit, why take part in a reasoned debate when you can call each other names like five-year-old children? When did life become so ‘black and white’ rather than have nuances of grey? I have been guilty of this way of thinking too, judging and making assumptions. I have also changed my mind several times over the last year. Covid has really made me realise how different all our lives, priorities and fears are. Same storm. Different boats.

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There is a lot of division, hatred, fear and negativity in the world right now. It doesn’t have to be this way, in fact, in shouldn’t be this way. If humans are supposedly intelligent enough to fly into space, why can’t our species actually talk to each other, listen to each other and work with each other? Imagine what we could do with a little more cooperation and a little less judgement and hypocrisy? End poverty, stop persecution, hatred and wars, solve the climate change crisis, protect our vital natural wild spaces, save endangered animals from extinction..?

Live in a more peaceful and contented world?

Maybe it feels natural to fall back into our tribe mentality, especially when we feel fear, but I don’t think that’s good for our health. Which is ironic during a pandemic.

Author:

Interested in environmental issues, wildlife, spirituality, gardening, self-sufficiency and mini-adventures. There are two blogs, one is https://mysabbatical2014.wordpress.com/ and the other, more recent one, is - https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/ ☺️

15 thoughts on “Our World: Us and Them during the coronavirus pandemic

  1. This is such a thoughtful, well-argued post with a crucial message. A world divided fails to work together on solutions to issues that matter. Ironically, it’s a hopeful way to greet the smoky, hazy morning in the Great Lakes’ city in the U.S. where I live that is experiencing the global effects of climate change. Our views on vaccines, Brexit, political ideologies. religions, and ancestries are ever present distractions to keep us from building the kind of world where all are welcome.

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    1. Thank you Carol. Yes, I think our world is too divided and there are too many distractions. Somehow we have to move past the distractions, become less divided, and work together to make the world a better place.

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  2. I feel exactly as you do and it gets me down that people are behaving so badly. I can’t remember a time when government was such a mess, so lacking in moral fibre. When I read the arguments, back and forth, half the time I am not even sure what they are saying because they twist words. It’s diabolical and I feel like burying my head in the sand. Not the answer but there is nothing I can do except support causes that I know are legit, mostly local now. This is such a beautiful planet. How are we to save it? We had smoke yesterday from the West Coast and Canada and last night a vicious thunderstorm. I felt as if Nature was saying “HOW MUCH LOUDER MUST I SHOUT?”

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    1. I’m losing my faith in politicians. Or maybe I have actually lost my faith by now! They say one thing and do the opposite. They talk about climate change and then agree on a rail project with very few benefits, a ridiculous cost (billions of pounds) and a lot of damage to the environment, including ancient woodland. I think individually we can only do what we’re able to do to help the planet. I like to think every little bit helps.

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  3. It’s definitely difficult to know how we should continue living through this pandemic, because corvid is just not going away is it. I feel pulled one way then the other way. I found myself going into a supermarket and not putting a mask on yesterday, only to find that everybody else was. So I felt guilty and pulled mine out of my bag and put it on. Then today I went into my local corner shop with my mask on. Everyone else were not wearing them. But I felt safer carrying on wearing mine because it’s a small store. I think I will be fine if I do catch corvid. I just don’t want my life disrupted by self isolation. X

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    1. I know the feeling of being pulled one way and then another. It’s been a very confusing time with a lot of confusing messages given. I will be glad when it’s over.

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  4. I agree with you Clare – I, too, have had both vaccinations. (And I wear glasses which has not been fun with the mask wearing and fog in Wintertime.) I have a friend who had a brain bleed after her dog raced past her on the cement steps, knocking her down and causing the brain bleed which resulted in surgery. She won’t take the vaccine as she was/is worried about blood clots. Here in the U.S., there was a sense of camaraderie after 9/11, like nothing I’d seen before. People spoke in hushed tones, were kind to one another … but it lasted just a short while. You’d think that people would have that same respect for one another like after 9/11, but sadly it is not true. You just went out of lockdown completely and that’s good … I heard today that the pandemic will last until this time next year thanks to the Delta variant. That is a scary proclamation but I feel it is true.

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    1. It’s sad the camaraderie has been lost. We humans seem more focused on what divides us than what unites us. I believe that people should have a right to choose to have a vaccine and your friend shouldn’t have it if the risk to her could be greater than the benefit. My mum thinks the pandemic will end next year as the Spanish Flu took two years. I remember last year when our Government said it might take four months and I was thinking ‘What?! We can’t live like this for four months!’ If only! Things are relatively back to normal although there is talk of vaccine passports in the future and there is the uncertainty and talk of restrictions returning. I’m just taking it day by day, too often I’ve been hopeful and then the rates go up again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We continue to trend upward with cases, especially during the last two weeks. On the news today they said the U.K. is finally letting in Americans without a quarantine period, though Brits may not return to America. That’s interesting. We have a lot of anti-vaxxers and that was a big cause for Americans not being welcome in Canada. I have heard specialists say it may be 2022 until it is more normal, so your mom’s deduction is accurate.

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