The Convergence of Resistance
As one who tries to understand people I have been most curious as to why conspiracy theories are being embraced by those who normally do not see eye-to-eye. How is it that supporters of Donald Trump are joined by those described as “new agers?” Politically, they would otherwise have next to nothing in common.
What both presently DO have in common is a distrust of those who are in charge of the medical system and the governments who rely on them. Why distrust the established medical field?
When the pandemic emerged very little was known about the virus. Initially it was believed that people could easily become infected through touching infected surfaces, and so playgrounds were closed down and copious amounts of alcohol-based sanitizers and chemically-laden cleaners were put to use. Even when evidence ‘surfaced’ that virtually all infections were caused by the spread of tiny viral-laden droplets, we were continued to be told to sanitize everything. Thankfully playgrounds reopened.
Of course, there are lots of people who believe that having to wear a mask contravenes their human rights. Maybe they believe the same thing about traffic rules. (It would certainly seem so in my town!) All of us have to live with some restrictions in order to maintain public order and society at large. We can’t kill someone just because we don’t like them. We have to drive on the right side of the road unless it is a one-way road. We knock on a neighbour’s door rather than simply walk in. What is different now is that it has become imperative to wear masks when indoors with others who are not in our “bubble.” This was also true during the Spanish flu outbreak a century ago. Nobody likes having to wear masks. Most people also don’t like getting sick and potentially dying from this virus, either. So we are expected to wear masks.
One would usually expect that “Alt-right” people would be alone in opposing mask-wearing, but this is not the case. The same thing is true of those who oppose being injected by a vaccine. Why?
I believe there are five principal reasons.
1) A lack of information about exactly where the outbreaks were/are occurring.
2) In an attempt to squelch panic and/or doubt about the official discourse, websites, social media posts, and the results generated by search engines have been edited to downplay other sources of information, such as how to improve one’s immunity.
3) The expression “social distancing” was used (rather than the correct term, “physical distancing”). We are social beings. We have to be sociable, otherwise we begin to die inside. In fact, loneliness kills. In essence, we were told to isolate. In a way this is like telling people to stop breathing. So, the term was very poorly chosen. And is still being used, even though it is extremely unwise.
4) To me this point is the most important one, and reveals a huge gap in the current medical model: instead of passively waiting for vaccines to be developed and deployed, we should have been told how we could do our best to prepare for a possible infection. If everyone were taking adequate amounts of vitamins C & D, zinc, three specific amino-acids, drinking green tea, (similar to washing our hands with soap) rinsing our noses with salt water, and getting enough sleep and exercise; the death rate would likely be a small fraction of what it has been. (See my earlier blog at https://www.iangartshore.ca/2020/05/my-plan-response-to-coronavirus.html.) Of course, the pharmaceutical industry loses profits when we take care of our health, and the pharmaceutical industry is making record profits at present.
5) This virus behaves in a scary way. Pandemics, especially with a virus that hides its presence until it has infected many others, is even more scary. Hospital workers were rightfully scared, and a great many of them lost their lives while attending to their patients. And. And! Fear reduces our immunity. When the pandemic began to be taken seriously, with a total disregard to how we could prepare our immune systems, it was fear that infected most of us. While fear can control most people, some will push back against it and decide to become their own authority.
All of us need to feel secure and in control of our lives no matter what our political views might be. If we sense that we are not being told the whole truth, all while our lives are being rocked, we want to push-back. Conspiracy theories emerge. Which ones are at all true and which ones are not is up for debate. When we are able to make sense of what is going on, truth or otherwise, and this perception does not fit the official discourse, then resistance (ranging from passive to violent) will emerge. This is especially inevitable among those who already have a low ability to trust.
Those who are already aware of how to stay healthy, such as many “new agers,” are very unhappy about how governments have responded to the pandemic, especially point number four above.
Since members of the Alt-right are more likely to be vocal, well organised, and willing to push against the status quo, it is only natural that anybody who is dissatisfied with government responses to this crisis will easily get sucked into to the Alt-right’s conspiracy theories. An article on this topic is situated in the province of Quebec, but it is true elsewhere: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-anti-mask-movement-qanon-covid-19-1.5737040.
Because of the five items listed above, trust is being lost. Our society is in deep trouble –especially in the United States with its soon-to-be former President being a cheer-leader of the Alt-right movement.
So, what can we do? We need to take charge of our lives, not by insulting our common humanity by refusing to wear masks, but by becoming proactive with our health. Follow the recommendations of those who study health (sadly, not the medical community). Demand that politicians and health authorities broadcast news about what measures actually do reduce the risk of infection. Be socially active while also being responsible for not transmitting the virus. Be calm. Accept the vaccine should you wish it. And engage in proactive health measures in order to take care of your health, even after the pandemic has passed.
Your life may very well depend on it.
p.s. after writing the above I came across a similar article written in the scientific Greater Good Magazine that points to how not trusting people has backfired. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_we_learned_about_human_behavior_from_the_pandemic)