By John Jaarsveld –
Why are we so afraid of COVID-19? Why are we prepared to put whole countries in so called Lockdowns, disturb international trade to the point that millions are starving, deny children their education and scar them for life, spend a gargantuan amount of money that will have to be paid back by cutting essential services for decades , and destroy human rights that had been won by victories paid in blood? Why are people demanding a surveillance state, vaccine passports, calling for censorship and hard crack downs on those who dare to voice a different opinion than that is sanctioned by their government? All of these things would have seemed very, very alien in many countries as recent as two years ago.
The root of this collective hypnosis has much to do with the meaninglessness that many modern people have come to experience in their lives. A very high percentage of the population in developed countries takes antidepressants or painkillers on a daily basis. So many people feel their job makes no meaningful contribution to society and is unfulfilling. So many have the feeling that they had been promised paradise through technology and ‘progress’, but the promised gains never quite seemed to arrive. Many have felt for quite some time that their governments, courts and journalists had gotten out of touch with their daily experience of life, and are no longer living in the same society as they are.
People are scared and angry, and many of the old ways to give meaning to life, and to deal with hardships, have been lost. Social cohesion has been under pressure due to growing inequality. Orthodox religion just didn’t do the job any more of helping ordinary people deal with their daily struggles. Art had become elitist, and expensive, rather than a source of joy and connection for the common people. Insecurity has become the norm in jobs, housing and relationships.
Such a deeply wounded society welcomes a new religion, one that offers new rituals (social distancing), dress (masks), recognisable signs of adherence (masks, no handshakes) and salvation (vaccines). Suddenly, people can feel like heroes, are told they save lives, just by staying at home. And many are getting paid for their presumed heroism as well, while pretending that they are just as productive “working from home”, as in the office. They are given an excuse to project their inner hate, no longer at their own misery, but onto others, those who don’t follow the rules. The rules that are changed at will by a government that does not have to justify it actions any more.
Generalised fear, rampant in a society without a future to look forward to, is offered an object to be projected on: an enemy that cannot be seen, can hardly be found, may be hiding everywhere, especially in the vicinity of a fellow human being. A feeling of bonding between fellow followers of the dominant narrative ensues, and more and more repression, with less and less scientific backing, is called for, until no reason for a new round of restrictions is necessary; it’s no longer the end that justifies the means, but rather the means that justify themselves.
The more angst there is, the greater the sacrifice that is required to to quench these fears. The sacrifice of children, the ultimate sacrifice, is required to deal with the deep fears that have been exposed in 2020. Thus children are forced to wear masks, are isolated from their friends and family, robbed them of their childhoods, forcefully medicated. It has to be done, not because there is any scientific evidence that these things are beneficial for anyone, but because its cruelty stills the hungry monster inside us, at least for a little while.
The true fault of what is happening in this decade lies not with the powerful men and institutions that have now stepped up to seize control of the whole world. They are merely jumping on an opportunity that they see, but they did not plan this. Still, their actions are not neutral, and their defence that they are just trying to make the best out of a difficult situation does not acquit them from being guilty of destroying that what took centuries of enlightened thinkers to create.
The true cause of the situation we are currently in, are the people themselves, who long for totalitarianism, censorship and repression, to fill the void in their own lives. It lies with those who applaud the expulsion of anybody saying anything that questions the authorities or the main stream narrative, of him who would dare to scratch the scab covering the psychic wound of segregation from nature and from each other, which causes that wound to ooze its fear, loneliness and loss of meaning, that hurts so much the soul of modern man.
Will we be able to construct a positive future, rather than to succumb to creating a dystopia just to avoid feeling our existential despair? The question is still wide open, as the road to a totalitarian world regime requires nothing from us but to keep doing the same as we’ve been doing for a while now, and to keep supporting our current leaders.
Another possible future is one where we let go of our past dreams of world peace and world unity, let go of grand plans to find solutions to save the world, but instead work on local autonomy and accept local diversity, even though that may be especially hard to accept for those who want to do good, as no universal applicable principles are left to promote, however well meant. If we chose that road, we need to accept that meaningful discussions between different groups are limited, and local truths may be incomprehensible, even repulsive, to other groups. The overarching, universal truths that we dreamt of and that have brought much good, have run their course of expression, and they need to go, lest they suffocate us now.
And thirdly, the most difficult way we can go, is one where we embrace a radically different view about how we see the world. We would have to let go of the idea that the natural sciences provide us the best and only true way to see the world, and let the humanities step up to help us navigate the unfamiliar new territory. If we can put art in the place that is now taken by natural science, it may be capable of leading us through the current crisis towards something better. Literature can provide us with the stories that we need to guide our thoughts, the visual arts can give us the images, dance can bridge the gap that exists between our mind and our body, which is of such an incredible value in an age of digitalisation, music can help to heal our emotions, battered by propaganda. The age of Corona started when governments weaponised psychology; to counter this we need poets and ballerina’s, enamel workers and D.J.’s in charge. Where will this lead us? From our current vintage point, we are not even capable to imagine where this may lead.
*Author is a Practitioner of natural medicines in the Netherlands