There are two distinct camps: The Sheep and the Freedom Fighters. I wonder if it was as divided back in 1918. Certainly, there is evidence of some uprisings with mask-wearing in particular, such as the formation of the Anti-Mask League of San Francisco. The fact that the Spanish Flu took place during war time also had a significant effect on people’s behaviour in general as well as the actual spread of the disease itself. As quoted from Wikipedia, “The close quarters and massive troop movements of World War I hastened the pandemic, and probably both increased transmission and augmented mutation. The war may also have reduced people’s resistance to the virus. Some speculate the soldiers’ immune systems were weakened by malnourishment, as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility. A large factor in the worldwide occurrence of the flu was increased travel.”. Of course, only those individuals who lived back then could say for sure how things evolved. Since there aren’t likely many of those individuals left to tell the real stories, we cannot exactly rely on the data given since lies and denials by various governments complicated the accurate reporting of the disease, just as is the case today.
One hundred years later, free from literal wartimes here in North America, you’d think that we would be more enlightened as a society than we were back then, but I fear that that is not at all how it is. On the contrary, it seems that we are once again at war with one another figuratively-speaking as our population attempts to combat everything about the coronavirus, including the implementation of emergency health measures. Sure, “people will always be people” as the saying goes, and there will undoubtedly be some opposition to any enforcements, restrictions or change that folks view as unjust or unnecessary no matter what the circumstance. However, the divisive attitudes between the two aforementioned camps are crippling at best and they will surely only seal our fate in the longevity of COVID-19 and its deadly variants, which are astronomically robbing more and more families of their loved ones. Combine that tension with our present, distorted sense of entitlement and our biggest enemy in the evolution of this whole pandemic is us! Surprise, surprise.
I can only imagine how frustrated the medical community is as a result of what’s going on. The unchartered territories (note the plurality) ahead of us yet are overwhelming enough, let alone dealing with all of the other ‘noise’ surrounding people’s rights and freedoms. Healthcare workers, epidemiologists and scientists have been relentlessly fighting against the ever-changing coronavirus in the fight for sustaining life whilst simultaneously battling diverse beliefs and many selfish behaviours, government officials included. How much longer can we expect these selfless individuals to keep up their exhaustive efforts? How much more can our already-extended health systems withstand? While Freedom Fighters rally without masks and continue on with their normal, daily activities which they are ‘entitled’ to, doctors and nurses are having to make more life and death decisions than ever before, never mind their everyday fear of becoming ill themselves and/or bringing the deadly disease home to their families. They don’t get the freedom to choose what is convenient for them or what’s not, or examine how they feel about certain protocols—they have a life-saving job to do and they do it. Yes, they may have willingly signed up for their prospective professions, but they most certainly did not choose the mass chaos of this pandemic. So, what about the rights and freedoms of the frontline workers? What about the rights and freedoms of the now dead who may well have contracted the virus due to others’ negligence? Would the self-proclaimed Freedom Fighters like to trade places with those who have left this Earth for good?
As hospitals (including makeshift ones), ICU’s and morgues are nearing capacity in some places getting hit hard by the third wave, I am floored by the amount of times I hear me, me, me type of statements: “I shouldn’t have to….”, “I’m not going to….”, “I have the right to….”, “I feel…”. Gee, how nice that in the midst of a deadly contagion and three million lives lost, these steadfast folks have the privilege of examining their feelings about this or that as they decide whether or not they will choose to participate in the rest of society’s containment efforts. That is, until the very system they are bucking against has to intubate them. What if the attending ICU staff were to then take time out to examine their feelings, remove their masks, dirty up their hands, invite others to rally around the bed, recite their rights, etc.? I wonder how that would go over. I’m thinking not well. Imagine the dissent then, except that it wouldn’t happen because the hospital staff actually care about others and because they have a job to do. And, as potential patients, we Sheep and Freedom Fighters alike (vaccinated or not), have a job to do in return… like it or not. I know that I intend to keep doing my part to try to help take the burden off of others and to help protect my loved ones, and if that makes me a sheep, then feel free to call me Woolly Sue.
P. S. Thanks to fellow blogger, Rose Elaine for her inspirational, digital painting of two like-minded, rule-following sheep after reading this blogpost: http://roseelaineblog.com/2021/04/11/two-like-minded-sheep/