As the year 2020 arrived, we were living and thinking as we had been in 2019, 2018 and 2017. There was plenty of fear and outrage in the world, but the levels were fairly smooth. And then, unexpectedly, a long and nightmarish storm battered us.
We’ve all lived through three years of intimidation and fear. It has subsided now, but most people haven’t processed what has happened… they haven’t sorted and settled things inside themselves.
This type of delay is not unusual, and a great example of it was the Nazi holocaust. Everyone knows about it now, but in the aftermath of World War II, it simply wasn’t talked about. After millions of Jews were murdered as an industrial process, the remaining Jews spoke fairly little of it. “We didn’t talk about it until about 1960,” I was told by those who lived through it as adults. And the records bear that up.
Storms such as we’ve just been through distort human character. First of all, fear of invisible death seized millions of minds. Added to that was fear of authority, repeated stoking of the initial fear, off-the-charts pressures for compliance, and a hundred clever justifications for all of the above. Even across-the-board values like tolerance for different opinions, bodily autonomy and free speech were trampled and discarded. Books were written (and broadly promoted!) on why free speech was now bad.
And so we have a lot to unwind. We need to re-balance ourselves… to recalibrate ourselves. And we can do that in either of two ways: We can recalibrate to reality, or we can recalibrate to fantasy.
For obvious reasons I think we need to choose reality above fantasy, but this is the more challenging choice: reality is stark and doesn’t cater to human feelings. Fantasy, on the other hand, is fitted directly to emotional desires: it succeeds by painting pictures of whatever the hearers would like to be true.
In the past, centering on reality couldn’t be done as easily as it can now, and so people recovered slowly. For emotional reasons it may not be terribly fast even now, but we can move ourselves ahead rather faster than slower by centering on facts.
So, I think we should begin by facing the one, essential conclusion from the entire covid business:
Everyone got it anyway.
However the disease entered the world, the mayhem that followed was sold with “We have to prevent people from getting it.” And so we have to begin by facing the fact that everyone got it anyway… that the threats and enforcements and orders – the actions of authority and the authorized – simply failed.
Appeals to ignorance can certainly be made (“No one knew and we did the best we could”), but the actions and enforcements of authority still failed, and we need to grasp that first.
The Second Point
Once we can accept that the measures taken by authority failed openly (which will be hard for some people), there is a second point to hold in mind:
Excuses for that which failed serve fantasy rather than reality.
Accepting reality can be hard, and one of the best tools for helping us through the process is logic: clear and almost mathematical thinking. Logic may not help a great deal with emotions (which are not to be summarily tossed out), but it gives us solid ground on which to stand and sort ourselves.
So, if everyone got it anyway, then the edicts for “stopping the spread” and so on were wrong, and the need to justify what failed keeps fantasy alive.
Or, to say it a bit more directly,
- The entire, interlocking system of authority got it wrong.
- Attempts to make authority look good in this area should be rejected.
Jesus was ever so right when he advised people to clean the inside first, and that’s precisely what I’m recommending here. There may be a time for holding people accountable, but not before recalibrating ourselves.
If we don’t recalibrate (at least fairly well), it will be hard to tell when we’re getting out of balance.
So, if we want to fix things, there’s really no way around fixing ourselves as a first step; if we don’t do that, the rest of what we do is in danger of going either too far or not far enough.
Whether we feel like it or not, we must begin by recalibrating to reality: Just about everyone got it anyway.