Every day the numbers of infected people hits over 35,000, which is a precipitous and terrifying number of people who cannot work, who may get sick, who may spread the coronavirus and who may get very sick and possibly die. The leaders of our country, from the prime minister who wanted bodies to pile high in their thousands over closing the economy for safety, to the old health secretary who had an affair with his assistant who he hired using public money, to the new health secretary who threw off all restrictions to please the tories’ populist and pugilist base, have failed us- why aren’t we calling this out?
England is a confusing place to live these days. I find myself looking around at the maskless masses and wondering what part of their nature allows them to think that running the risk, not only of their own health, but those around them- is acceptable. I’ve spoken to people I have to be around with this mentality and the shrugging indifference is maddening.
The reason I find this so very confusing is that, in a country so tightly wrapped up in nationalism, one would assume that your fellow countrymen would be high currency to you- and yet the inverse seems to be true. The callous disregard for our fellow countrymen and women seems to be at odds with a country so dedicated to pushing the narrative of “we’re the best”.
One could reasonably assume that the endless scribes thrown out by the media, which serve to manufacture culture wars that aren’t worth the time and attention (see people constantly using the word “woke” as a pejorative) of anyone with a reasonable mindset. As someone who is assigned this moniker at least once a week to my indifference, I’m amused as to why people would think “ugh, you care about people’s feelings and safety” is an insult- but perhaps this is another symptom of the sickness other than covid that is creeping amongst our numbers. Many people are suffering from a terminal case of indifference to anyone that is not “of their number”.
I’d go so far as to state that the UK is suffering from tribalism, but the tribes are hilariously misdrawn. The poor defend the rich who make their lives harder with longer working hours, less stable contracts, poorer pay, more tax, unsafe working conditions. One minority turns it’s ire on another as if this will give them exemption from the same hatred pouring from the masses. And all the while, white people will proclaim that they too can be victims of racism without ever seeing the power dynamics at play.
This applies too to the problem that made me write this article.
100 people on a dinghy, desperate to reach British shores because they speak English, because their family live here- simply because they WANT to come here- are described in term of vermin – incursion, flood, TOO MANY! But the lack of restrictions on coronavirus facilitate the choking death of 150 people daily who supposedly share this great nation, and they’re consigned to the “inevitable deaths” pile.
Looking at it from that angle makes my blood truly run cold. “They had pre-existing conditions- we need to get on with our lives” are the usual defensive lines. It makes me feel sick to think that so many people can’t and won’t even go to the insignificant step of putting on a mask in restaurants, stores etc to prevent the possible deaths of those around them. I won’t even attempt to debunk the crackpots who believe a strip of cotton with ear loops is equivalent to oppression because their cosseted existences cannot be punctured with the simplicity of explanation that a face mask is not the same as jewish or POC or LGBT+ oppression, and rising to their ridiculous polemics is pointless- it’s the net result they want, so I frankly choose a mix of scorn and indifference.
The “other” arguments
Another talking point that both exhausts and amuses me in equal measure is “we don’t count deaths by cancer or flu every day”.
We actually do count flu deaths in the UK- just not on a daily counter. It’s not something we need to do because it’s not happening to the extent coronavirus deaths are presently. If flu became the perfect mix of horribly infectious, easy to pass on, hard to kill and deadly- I can guarantee you the daily figures would indeed become widely available- but the abject slap in the face that is conflating cancer with coronavirus cannot be stated as stupid often enough for me. You cannot- in any real way- compare something that essentially spontaneously occurs in people, which needs long term medical intervention, is 100% fatal without intervention and is not infectious with a virus: to put it simply – I’ve never caught cancer by sharing the gym with someone with cancer. Also as someone who has lost multiple family members to it I find people’s eagerness to throw out nonsense comparisons deeply offensive.
It’s the same with heart attacks, or anything else. Even comparison with flu doesn’t work- yes flu is infectious, it is a virus, but it has a lower death rate than coronavirus- why is this still information that needs to be repeated very nearly two years into a pandemic?
In my eyes, at this point- every death in the UK is squarely at the feet and the fault of an indifferent conservative government, enabled cheerfully by it’s supporters and emboldened by anybody who does not speak out on the hypocrisy of it. And being told to focus on yourself, having the false narrative of personal responsibility thrown out is the biggest insult- how can I focus on my own personal responsibility? If I need to get on a train to visit my family and I wear a mask but every single other person does not, I focused on my personal responsibility and nobody else did- their decision affects me and nullifies my efforts. A society should be encouraged to come together for its’ own good and for its’ own betterment- but in England it’s every man woman and child for themselves.
I suppose I’m searching for answers here from those who so devoutly believe it. Why is 50 migrants a plague, but 150 deaths – from a plague – is fine if it means you get to drink a pint without wearing a mask?