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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale


The global death toll from Coronavirus has now surpassed 1 million. Appalling, shocking, frightening and the endless other ‘-ing’ suffixes that could be added here to encompass our reactions towards this grim reality. Granted that there are bound to be some discrepancies and conflicting opinions of what constitutes a COVID death, but if you are any conspiracy theorist, I recommend that you stop reading this now.

Indulgent and as dismissive of the tremendous suffering that has been witnessed as it may be, I feel that “fed-up” would perhaps an equally apt expression to describe a significant amount of the U.K.’s public opinion in regard to our Government’s handling of COVID-19. It has played-out as a challenge all too real for our leaders to cope with, as it relies upon us looking after each other. It’s hard to be lead out of a situation with there not seem to be any consistent tangible plan for this.

Not only is being ‘caring’ an antonym to the rampant neoliberal philosophy that they so espouse, but the bitter irony in the hypocrisy of then having to exert such statist control i.e. lockdown, curfews… inevitably just doesn’t wash. In such a time of crisis, those in perilous situations not being able to trust that they are being cushioned by a reliable safety-net.

The inevitable of polarized social media fueled (though I’m far from wanting to say that it’s all bad!) world, this happens; binary opinions ever chucked around with no display of empathy or discussion in the middle. I’ve always believed that to dismiss an opinion on account of you not happening to agree with it, displays a form of the most counterproductive preservation of your opinions unchallenged; arrogance being one word for it; insecurity being another.

It’s this cycle of immaturity that seems to afford people in combative forums with the right to possess a ‘my way or the high-way’ advertisement of their beliefs. Deep within us, I’d guess that we all instinctively have the view that if everybody cooperated with our political and philosophical beliefs, the world would be a better. For me part of maturing, was accepting that this just isn’t the way that the world works. From that ghastly false confidence that I may once have possessed in believing that my way was the ‘right’ way of doing things to improve everybody’s life, to seeing all of the holes in this naivety. This is where I’d hope that we could all eventually accept that you have to respect the right of other people to own their opinion and how undermining – not to mention childish – it is, to automatically hold your opinion as somehow more worthy.

Resting all of your laurels on convincing other people to change their approach to life based upon the truth that you hold in your argument feels like an unending uphill race. Or battle. On the current pandemic, it feels as if I ran out of enough breath long ago.

Offering a real life example, I’ll disclose that I certainly did find some hot air on the way back from some post work drinks on the Victoria Line (for some context) after some post-work drinks with some colleagues last weekend. Thankfully the vast majority of us were wearing masks on a busy train journey and I was quite happy in my own little stupor. That is until one in a little gang of rowdy naked faced pubescent’s (I’d go for aged 15/16/17, but without carbon dating, who’s to say?) sat right next to me on the tube! Yes, flouted social distancing. I wouldn’t usually, but with plenty of fruity Neckoil’s inside of me I simply inquired “erm, why are you not wearing a mask mate?”

The curt response was simply “I’m asthmatic”. Apart from thinking “a likely story”, I buttoned my lip. I mean, they do always emphasize that there are medical exceptions and I do tend to favor giving the benefit of the doubt. But then, I used to be asthmatic which somehow made the ridiculous swagger he and all of his little friends annoy me even more! Admittedly I was calculated in waiting until he was about to get up at Warren Street to depart the train to merely comment “it’s a real pity that all of your friends also have medical conditions”. To which he simply responded with “I can’t understand what you’re saying. Like I say, I had been drinking, obviously had a mask obstructing his having the chance to lip-read and I hate confrontation, so nothing happened.

There really are so many issues facing the world at the moment and the lack of impact that my little query would have on anything allowed this exchange to be – until now! – as good as forgotten within a matter of seconds. Bigger fish to fry. What it did make me reflect a bit upon though, was how mask wearing key signal as to the attitude that we have to this and almost induces an automatic display of our position.

You may even be forgiven for allowing some of your own prejudices to come into this. Disgusting as this. What I find most harrowing, is that our increasingly shallow world of instantaneous expression on a macro scale seems to cater for fierce opposition as opposed to understanding.

Whatever you may think of anything, demeaning anything in itself can surely only ever serve as an inferior value than that obtained in putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes first if we want anything to ever change or progress as a people?

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