Whatever happened to the notion of working together for the greater good?
Since Covid began, there has been an onslaught of propaganda pushing the ideas of “Freedom” and “Personal Choice” over any effort to work together for the collective good. From bots on Twitter to politicians, the message has been “Being asked/made to help others makes you weak. Fight it! Freedom = choice!”
Never mind that even if personal responsibility was a good solution to public health (spoiler alert, it’s not!) and even if we had the tools we needed to make those kinds of decisions (we don’t) human beings are notoriously bad at risk assessment.
But, thanks to these sustained campaigns to “Fight the Man” (or whatever), instead of a mass effort of masking and vaccination we’ve ended up with a patchwork response that’s resulted in a widespread disease that leaves between 10 and 50% of the people who catch it with a new health condition.
Kind of makes you wonder who benefits from this, doesn’t it?
I mean, it definitely helps certain unfriendly nations to not only sow division among countrymen (countrypeople?), but in a way that leaves their workforce crippled, straining resources, *and* makes it harder to tell real information from false.
But maybe that’s a little too down-the-rabbit-hole, conspiracy theory-esque.
That’s fine. The “personal responsibility” narrative helps our own government, too. After all, mitigations like mandates cost money. And so does taking care of those who end up disabled by the virus. But if everyone is responsible for their own health and safety, then it’s not the government’s fault if you catch Covid and end up disabled – its yours, and you deserve what you get. (Just wait until health insurance companies latch onto this reasoning to deny Long Covid claims.)
As someone who suffered from debilitating chronic illness even before Covid came along, I am all too aware of how prevalent the belief is that people get what they deserve when it comes to health. Don’t ask how many times it’s been suggested if only I ate better, or exercised more, or took up yoga, or prayed, that I wouldn’t be suffering now.
And, I suppose, in some ways that’s hard to refute. I mean, how do I prove that it’s just as likely I’d have avoided illness if I’d worn hats made out of spaghetti, or taken up nudism, without travelling back in time?
But it’s a comfortable lie to cling to. I mean, if everyone gets what they deserve, then you don’t have to feel bad for people who get sick, or want to support them (see current ODSP rates), and you can bask in the smugness of knowing that it’ll never happen to you.
Until it does.
Even then you’ll probably find some way to blame yourself: for letting your kid play soccer or attend in-person school, for having to take transit or work with unmasked people, for removing your mask that one time to drink – never mind that if N95 masks and air quality were mandated, you probably would have avoided infection…because public health is a group project!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concern about freedom and not wanting the government to tell you what to do, even if it’s for both your own good and the greater good.
We do it all the time. Kids can’t buy booze or cigarettes. You can’t drive drunk. Or smoke indoors in public places. In Quebec, you have to buy & use snow tires. You have to pass a test and follow rules to drive. You can’t kill people. Or even punch them. You can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.
These are all protections put in place for the greater good, and following them doesn’t make you a sheep – the real sheep are the ones following the guys screaming about how “Baaaaad” the rules are.
The world is only going to get harsher and scarier in the next few years as the climate changes, more diseases evolve, natural disasters abound, and food and water become scarcer and more expensive, and we’ll all get through it a lot better if we start working together and acting like a team, instead of just looking out for number one.