LETTER: The elephant in the pandemic situation

From reader Charles Jeanes

More insights into humans, learned from responses of some people to the COVID 19 pandemic:

In the U.S., one decides one’s response on the basis of party-political identification. I say this on the basis of polling by Pew Research.

“Is it raining?” you may ask an American. “I’ll get back to you, once I know how the party formulated a response,” might well be the reply. The seriousness is not a matter of scientific fact, but opinion determined by party. Republicans say the pandemic threat is not too great, just as their president asserts. If he says the economy is too important and must be relieved of measures to fight the virus, that is the orthodox opinion; relax regulations, let the economy go back to work as it must.

In Canada, we have a large and important minority that is sometimes called a “movement” (or perhaps a self-selected intentional community, or a quasi-tribal alternate-cultural collective would also serve to describe their identity) whose unity is determined by their negative opinion of vaccinations, of Big Science, Big Medicine, Big Pharma, and Big Government. They are commonly called anti-vaxxers.

For me, this minority represents an elephant in the public-conversation room. It is there, yet we would rather not say we see it in this pandemic situation. A vaccine for COVID 19 is, I am led by my reading to think, a probable termination for our present health crisis. Anti-vaxxers will, I have heard from one of them, decide to refuse it.

What do Canadians do in that event? Already the movement has a counter-narrative at odds with what most of us think is happening. Some of their alternate-reality perspective narrates how 5G technology is implicated in the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan.

This is how “interesting times” become bad times, periods of intense social conflict. I hope there’s a better future than that, but one should, as the Stoics teach, stare reality in the face and know it for what it is/might become.

Our lessons are not over yet.

Charles Jeanes


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