We’re in hard times and in these times, we need a lot of empathy and compassion for others out there. Let’s face it, as human beings that’s not something we always do best. We fight with each other, we argue, we belittle and frankly treat certain others as less than or expendable. That’s not right, but that’s part of our history across the board, we can’t deny that. But despite that as we’ve faced Covid-19 as a society we’ve managed to rise above that so far. Regardless of race, religion or political persuasion, we’re all on the same team and we’ve acted as such, trying to help each other out.
But as this moment of crisis becomes longer, we’re starting to hear some voices singing different tunes. These people are spreading dangerous and morally questionable ideas that seem to either try to wish away the crisis we’re facing or worse, try to exploit it for their own benefit. It’s an ugly kind of thing to see, a morbid view in serious times. Today I saw three specific examples from across the political spectrum around the World that speak to this ugliness, and I felt deserved to be named and shamed. The first comes from Brazil, with an unsurprising source continuing his Covid-19 denial:
Look, it’s not a shock that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said these things at all, that’s just who he is. He’s used brute force, try to wipe Indigenous peoples from the Amazon and has watched the Amazon burn long before Covid-19 came along. When Covid-19 started, he called it a fantasy, only to later see one of his senior staff get that “fantasy”, exposing not only him but US President Donald Trump to it. Yeah, insert your own jokes about karma here.
What jumped out at me about this story was not his denialist rhetoric and continued attempts to burry his own head in the sand, but his open attacks on those who are actually trying to attack this problem head on. He went on national TV to address the whole country to try to pressure mayors and state governors to roll back lockdown measures that have brought in to try to protect their citizens from the menace of Covid-19. That’s far from being constructive, it’s in fact dangerous. It’s one thing to want to ignore reality, but it’s something quite different to try to pressure others to stop dealing with that reality and putting lives at risk. But while that’s bad, there is another example brewing just to our south that’s leaving me gob smacked and rather speechless:
Okay folks, I am not without empathy for the concerns about the effects on the economy and the effects that current measures are having on people’s lives. I have big empathy for small business owners who are losing everything before their eyes, people being laid off and wondering where their next pay cheques may come from. So I can’t be furious at the idea of wanting to try to ensure everyone’s economic well being in most situations.
But there are rare circumstances where all other considerations need to become secondary to life and health, and this is definitely one of them. And this is where I find this entire line of argument extremely disturbing and just unacceptable, that basically “Hey people are going to die anyway so why should the economy hurt”, to be extremely morbid and craven. The idea that American politicians are actively saying that “Seniors are willing to die to save the economy” is mind-blowingly immoral, especially coming from Republicans, the same people who just a decade ago were fighting tooth and nail against basic healthcare for people by calling part of their implementation “deal panels”. This is a kind of economic Darwinism that’s beyond the pale and just plain ugly, especially coming from those who claim to hold the moral high ground in the American political context. But if you thought this kind of blinkered, ugly thinking is only coming from the political right, we’ll you’d be wrong, as this example from the United Kingdom shows us:
This…. This…. This really left me speechless for minutes when I first saw it. Part of me wanted to believe that it wasn’t real, but it does look real and seems to have their hallmarks, as we saw with their stupidity on Vancouver Island just less than a month ago. This Extinction Rebellion group are this vapid and ignorant in their views and approaches, somehow managing to become more vile in their views and words than groups like PETA, which is a hell of a feat when you consider some of the things that PETA has said and done over the years.
But that? That’s just downright crap. Covid-19 is not a cure and humans are not a disease, period. To try to suggest this in any way, shape or form is the ugliest crap imaginable. It’s eliminationist language that no moral human being should ever want to be associated with. What’s worse is that the tone of that post is almost triumphalist to an extent, as it seems like they are celebrating that a global pandemic is killing people’s family and friends. It’s a tone that acts like somehow that climate change is linked to this horrible disease, which it is clearly not, and that it’s a good thing. This is the kind of crap that makes people revile environmentalist and those who are fighting to stop climate change. It’s tone deaf, unempathetic and the most craven thing I’ve seen so far in this moment, even more so than the two examples above, which is saying a lot.
Whether if we want it to be the case or not, we are in a global crisis and we are in this together. We are a team on this because the acts of every country in the world have an effect on us at home, and our actions here have an equal effect on those others. We all need to do our part to protect our friends, family and neighbours, it’s just that simple. We can talk about individual rights and liberties but none of those matter if you aren’t alive to enjoy them. Furthermore we don’t just have rights, but we also have responsibilities, responsibilities to our society and one another. Some seem to be forgetting that last part in this important time, and that means doing what we can to protect others. In this moment many people are making mental notes about who is truly trying to help the team in these hard times, and those how are working against it. I would argue that in these three examples, we see a group of people from around the World who are not working with the team. People will remember that when this is all over and I doubt that this will be forgiven when that time comes, once we get through this together.