I already published this text in German a few weeks back but I felt like translating it for my international readers. This essay reflects the situation in Germany but is surely similar to other countries. Or maybe you live somewhere more sane and this way you can get a glimpse at what is going on here.
The world makes no sense right now
I have always been a keen observer of society. Maybe due to my interests in history, politics, philosophy and society in general. And I was always able to make sense of current affairs and the trends influencing society. I might be of different opinion about a few things but I could always understand and explain the actions, decisions and events happening around me.
Since March 2020 I have mounting difficulties finding rational explanations for the things that are happening. I almost despair about this puzzling world. Maybe I do understand but can’t believe it myself that this is actually happening. I look at politics and large parts of the media and feel that what they proclaim is no longer in contact with reality. It is a spiral made out of numbers, restrictions, threats, fear and anxiety followed by new numbers, new fears and new restrictions.
I talk with friends, family and coworkers and some of them seem like they are under a spell of anxiety. Anxiety that is no longer rooted in a realistic view of the world but is being fabricated mostly via media and politics. Others like myself are puzzled and in despair about a world that they think seems to have gone mad. Others again just want to get through all of this and avoid asking too many questions because deep down they fear realizing the immensity of what is going on.
Nothing is more difficult…
I was always convinced that political action within a democracy should be used to solve collective problems and questions in a rational and peaceful manner. It won’t make everyone happy but it should work by having a discussion, by compromising and by slowly deliberating different proposals. I am shocked that instead most politicians in charge use worst-case scenarios, threats and fear instead of acting in a calm and responsible manner. What is the task of politics in a crisis? To produce even more panic? To threaten those who think differently and question the wisdom of certain political measures? To frantically forbid, restrict, lock down or push people into a new pharmaceutical therapy? Should they not act with calm and help guide their citizens through a complex situation. Help them to make their own best decisions and but also trust their own citizens, the people who actually voted for them?
Maybe we are currently driven by fear. Fear of the virus itself, fear of the consequences of our own actions and fear of having made mistakes. It might even be a kind of existential “angst” that we all carry and that likes to wake up whenever we are faced with uncertainty. The kind that screams for quick, easy and clear solutions that are almost always wrong. Because this “angst” is not concerned with actual solutions but with calming this gnawing existential worry about ourselves.
The Prussian military historian Carl von Clausewitz once said, that nothing is more difficult than retreating from an indefensible position. It sounds so simple but this insight contains an incredible knowledge of our human psyche. It will be very difficult for many politicians to let go of the ways they handled this pandemic over the last two years. Abandoning these policies would raise questions. Were they were necessary or even helpful in the first place? It would mean conceding that maybe they made some mistakes. And would the public be able to forgive and accept that after two years of suffering, not only from the pandemic itself but even more so from all the political restrictions and media-made anxiety? Would parts of the public even want to hear that or are they complicit in keeping this narrative going?
Maybe it is hard to see things differently as a politician when all the official experts do is proclaim warning after warning and asking for restriction after restriction? Maybe it is hard to keep a calm and measured approach when the public in their initial fear screams for action? And maybe for many people the last two years need to make sense. All these restrictions must have been good for something right? The retreat will be difficult for many but a relief for others.
Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here? Most politicians see salvation in vaccinating as many people as possible including children. They even think about mandating this vaccine. Because then we are finally done with this pandemic right?. Then it is over right? But the vaccines seem to be less and less effective than initially promised. Now all they do is reduce the risk of severe cases of COVID19. Vaccinated people still get infected and they still can infect others. And even then it seems the vaccines are only good for a few months. What if vaccinating everyone will not save us? What if the virus comes back next year and the year after like all the other respiratory viruses do? What do we do then, what will we have achieved?
The only thing we will have achieved is putting our society into shambles. It is going to be painful to realize that all the suffering we have inflicted on ourselves was for nothing more than the illusion of control. We sacrificed ourselves and restricted our lives for virtually nothing. We will see that we fell for the unrealistic promises of Big Pharma and media experts. That in the process we inflicted heavy damage to our society, our rights, our humanity and our trust. We did that in the insane attempt to control or even defeat an airborne virus. There is word for that: Hubris.
And all of us, vaccinated or not, young and old, left or right, have to suffer from the hubris of experts, politicians, pharmaceutical companies, the media and our solutionist thinking. We are all in the same boat. We should stop fighting each other and we should stop letting our lives be controlled by fear. For quite some time now I no longer fear the coronavirus. There is still some concern, of course, but I feel free. You can be free as well.