THE DIVISION BELL
This article will not consider the merits or otherwise of any conspiracy theory. It is simply intended to look at stages we have passed through to arrive at our current point.
Covid-19 has divided nations, societies, communities and, in many cases, families.
As with most things – such as politics, religion, sport, art and so on – not everyone is going to have the same view. There have always been divided opinions and there always will be. There are also people who take the middle ground, not having strongly held views either way. Yet covid-19 has managed to polarise views very quickly and very strongly.
The degree of polarisation is alarming and is due in no small part to the fear that has been generated. There is no doubt in my mind that there has been a deliberate and concerted effort to generate this fear. As always, fear is used as a method of control. This is a topic worthy of discussion, but it is not the topic of this article.
Anyone who has a polarised view is biased; it’s the nature of the beast. This sharp division is not beneficial on an individual or societal level.
It is important that people are willing to debate issues. It is a way to identify where the differences of opinions lie and, hopefully, work through them. Although such debates may not reconcile differences of opinions, it can at least lead to an understanding of why those differences exist.
Areas Of Agreement
It can be useful to start such a debate by looking at areas in which both sides agree.
In the case of covid-19, I think most people would agree that
- there is a new virus circulating
- the virus is infectious
- the virus can be deadly
- we would like restrictions in place due to the virus to be lifted
There are some people who claim that the virus is not real, that it’s a completely false narrative. There are references by these, and other people, to a “Plandemic” and a “Scamdemic.” Conspiracy theories abound.
There are those who do not subscribe to any conspiracy theories about anything and who dismiss those that do with dysphemisms, appending their description of these people as conspiracy theorist “nutters.”
Opposing Sides Working Together
It is probably fair to say that in the majority of cases, there is a chasm between these opposing views that neither side has any interest in bridging. And yet, you may find these people working side by side in the workforce, conducting business with each other and interacting pleasantly and sociably when their views on this one topic are unknown to each other. Neither intelligence, social status, nor economic position can be used to determine which side of the chasm an individual sits.
Since the pandemic was announced early in 2020, there has been a consistent message from the government, espoused on television, radio and newspapers (including online news) that the virus is deadly, poses a dire threat to us and that all measures must be taken to protect everyone.
Early Days Of The Pandemic
At the beginning, no-one knew anything about the virus. All we knew were the reports we heard of people overseas dropping like flies.
To be fair, the government had to do something. If they waited to see what would happen and even one person died, Prime Minister Scott Morrison would have been crucified.
The race was on to find the one and only thing that would save us from the scourge of this deadly virus.
Controls were announced and restriction put in place, always with the reminder of the danger posed by the virus and the assurance that the action was being taken for the safety of everyone. The message originated from the government, but was picked up and repeated universally by the mainstream media.
Placing All The Eggs In One Basket
The government placed all its eggs in the basket of a vaccine. The race was on to find the one and only thing that would save us from the scourge of this deadly virus.
Finally – although amazingly quickly, in reality – a vaccine was produced. More than one, actually, and initially two of them were provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the medicine and therapeutic regulatory agency of the Australian government. They were both safe and effective. We were told.
Again, this was – and continues to be – the consistent messaging from the governments (State and Federal), reinforced continually by the mainstream media.
A Return To Normality
With the arrival of the vaccines, the push began to get everyone vaccinated. Once we are all vaccinated, life can return to normal. Who doesn’t want that? It is a very reasonable outcome; a return to normality.
And yet there was an apparent hesitancy. Initially, there was a shortage of vaccines that did not allow everyone to be vaccinated immediately. Added to this was the logistics of distribution and administering of the vaccines.
During this initial period of rollout, life carried on without out-of-control hospitalisations and deaths. Many States – by luck or design – had low rates of infections, leading some to question the need for vaccines and for others to be complacent. They’d get around to it, but there was no apparent rush.
The Threat Of The Unvaxxed
This hesitancy led to more aggressive language, aimed at getting more people to get vaccinated. The government started to generate a division in society. Vaccinated vs unvaccinated.
Nicola Spurrier, South Australia’s chief public health officer, spoke on television about the threat that the unvaccinated pose to the vaccinated, in a clear example of generating this division, setting neighbour against neighbour and friend against friend.
There were veiled warnings in the form of benefits that would be afforded those who are “fully vaccinated” and withheld from those who are not.
Mandates, Coercion and Incentives
As always, mainstream media faithfully reinforced the message and corporations jumped on board with incentives.
Despite assurances that the government would not mandate vaccinations, workers in some areas had government mandates to have the vaccines as a condition of employment imposed, followed by similar mandates by some private businesses, such as Woolworths.
It can be argued that these rulings are not mandates. Yet when the choice that people have is to be vaccinated or lose their jobs – their careers, livelihoods and means of providing for themselves and their families – it cannot be argued that this is coercion.
image courtesy of Michael Leunig
Is This Coercion Justifiable?
The question is; is this coercion justifiable?
Some will argue “Yes, for the greater good of society.”
Others will argue “No. The threat posed by the virus is not sufficient for breach of medical choice and medical privacy.”
Veiled warnings have since morphed into official intention to make participation in society difficult, expensive and – in some instances – impossible for those who choose to remain vaccine-free.
The following sentence appeared earlier in this article:
“The race was on to find the one and only thing that would save us from the scourge of this deadly virus.”
Note the language used. It could have been written as,
“The race was on to create a vaccine to protect against covid-19.”
This second iteration is accurate, yet without using the inflammatory language of the former. It doesn’t seek to instil uncertainty, alarm, or fear, as does the first. It doesn’t use the language of government spokespeople or media frontmen.
The Goalposts Are Constantly Moving
Some argue that if the vaccine is as safe and effective as the government says it is, those who choose to vaccinate will be protected. Those who do not, will not pose a threat to those who are. There is no need for mandates or coercion.
But this argument doesn’t hold sway with those in power who want us all to be vaccinated. Since this pandemic first began, the goalposts have been moved as and when deemed necessary, starting with “flatten the curve.”
Whether it was due to good luck or good planning, South Australia is one of the States that, early in November 2021, had no active cases of covid-19 and hadn’t done for a while. Before that, the rare infections were quickly isolated. The States borders were still restricted, yet with no active cases anywhere in the community, general restrictions were still in place because the vaccination rate was deemed to be too low.
Submission Of The People
There are people who are more afraid of the vaccines than the disease, but they are bowing to the coercion in order to participate in society.
Anyone not wanting to get a covid-19 vaccination is labelled an “anti-vaxxer’, yet it is not as simple as that.
The sky is falling
Removal Of Freedom For “The Greater Good”
There are people who are against all vaccines, no question. There are people who are only against the covid-19 vaccines. There are those who quite simply feel they should be able to decide what goes into their bodies (especially when it can’t be taken out), regardless of what it is. And there are those who want their medical decisions to be private. They find the concept of vaccine “passports” abhorrent.
Up until now, choice and privacy has been the case. Although vaccines for all are highly recommended, they have not previously been mandated. The ills of society are not due to people who have chosen not to vaccinate. Those people have not been discriminated against and the sky had not fallen.
The opinions of those who are against the covid-19 vaccines for whatever reason are being forcefully and deliberately censored. This is unconscionable in any society that holds itself up to be a democracy.
There needs to be an open, rational discussion of the issues, without finger pointing and rhetoric from either side, for opposing viewpoints to be heard and to enable the deliberately created chasm to be bridged. To eradicate the fear.
It was quite recently that the Prime Minister unilaterally decided (at least, I wasn’t asked) to change the words of the National Anthem from “…we are young and free,” to “…we are one and free.”
I’ve got bad news for him: We are neither. But it’s a pretty good ideal.
The Division Bell will soon be rung.
The image here and the title of the article are taken from Pink Floyd’s 1994 album, The Division Bell.
The statues are stylised Easter Island statues. Placed facing each other in this manner, they represent division. You can also see that their outline forms a heart that has been rended.
The featured image at the top is courtesy of Marooned, from Georgia.