A crisis is like an x-ray. It shows us who we really are. In the case of the UK government the Coronavirus crisis has revealed incompetence and deceit. In the case of the British public however, the picture is more positive. Communities have come to the rescue where the State has failed.
As individuals we are dealing with this new existential threat in various ways. Here’s a light-hearted analysis of the different strategies we are using to cope with strange times. So read on if you want to know if you are an Ostrich, a Doomer or a Happy Clapper.
This group includes all essential workers including health and social care, cleaners, truck drivers, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, police, community volunteers and the invisible people who maintain electricity, water and sewage systems. This group gain strength and meaning through helping others. They enjoy being busy and have a positive, practical attitude to life. Their hard work and self sacrifice must be rewarded and respected.
Unlike the heroes Ostriches think only of themselves and their own needs. They have difficulty facing up to reality and are afraid of change. They admire Donald Trump and believe the virus is a Chinese Hoax. They often have narcissistic tendencies and think the world owes them. During the Pandemic they are out on the streets flouting lockdown rules or on Facebook posting photos of their dinner and complaining of boredom. They have a deep seated fear of death hidden beneath a superficial bravado.
The Happy Clapper
This group have an optimistic trusting attitude. They believe all will be well if only we listen to the authorities. They spend lockdown time painting rainbows on windows, organising sing-songs on Zoom, doing sponsored knitting for charity and making masks out of cotton knickers for health workers. They clap so hard and so long their hands hurt. They are a contented bunch who never ask difficult questions. Sadly I am not one of them.
The Doomer is the opposite of the Happy Clapper. They are pessimists and give up on every project after five minutes. They believe the Pandemic is the beginning of the end of the world and nothing can be done to stop it so we may as well not try. They disagree with Lockdown, thinking they might as well die sooner but on a good hair day and in a nice restaurant. They brood indoors and do nothing constructive, spending time instead watching the 24 hour News Channel and drinking gin. They take their allocated daily exercise strolling around the local cemetery. Doomers are to be handled with caution as they can damage your mental health.
This group are going strong while others struggle. They have been preparing for the Pandemic or some other existential crisis ever since they first saw George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. They may have an underground bunker in the back garden or a basement filled to the brim with essential supplies, hand sanitizer and Hazmat suits. They have an emergency generator in the shed and a very sharp axe by the front door. They are now smugly observing from a safe distance as lesser mortals fight for toilet rolls.
The Creative Revolutionary
This group sees the Pandemic as a chance to change the world for the better. They are idealists. They believe people are basically good and that a new order with humanist values will rise as the virus demonstrates the failings of capitalism. They are using Lockdown time to organise community groups and post provocative messages on social media. They believe art can bring change and they may be artists, musicians, writers or gardeners who leave boxes of vegetables or poems at the doors of needy folk. This group are an inspiration to us all and we must hope they’ve got it right.
6 thoughts on “Notes on a Pandemic #4”
Some very perceptive observations, as the world seems to be going more crazy with Trump advocating injecting disinfectant!! Not sure where I fit in somewhere between survivalist and doom monger, part me also sees a creative revolution of staying local, valuing green spaces and nature, making food last and grow your own, and the internet being used what is was invented for when things start to collapse in the world information can still be shared
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Hi Alastair, thanks for your comments. I’m also split between two groups- Creative Revolutionary and Survivalist! I agree with you about green spaces. The Pandemic has shown us the importance of locally grown produce and digital communications. I’m looking forward to my raised veggie beds as soon as the saw mill reopens and the prospect of home grown lettuces!
Cogent analyses, Nikita. Australia is not doing too badly at present. For me, a terrifying aspect is the groups who do not have a chance to form a sensible opinion (which you have alluded to), not just because they don’t get information but because they are only fed misleading info. One survey in the US showed more C-virus infections if you watched a particular media network. (No prize for guessing which.)
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Hello Steve, good to hear from you and that the Pandemic situation is improving in Australia. It shows that it can be done if government is quick and responsive. In the UK things are going from bad to worst as you have probably heard with the highest mortality figures in Europe. I’m so glad I live in a remote part of Scotland with a devolved government who have slightly more common sense than in London. Let’s hope we survive through this crisis as there will be many tales to be told in future. Best wishes, Nikita. 🌈
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In the USA it seems like chaos, as if our whole system of government has broken down. There are two parties. If you vote for anyone else, it’s a wasted vote, but what a choice! The two parties hate each other, make up vicious lies and spend all their time fighting. The new media are like puppy dogs. They go to the White House briefings every day to be abused and how are you supposed to find the truth as they all report something with a different slant. Then there are the conspiracy theories. I hardly tune in to any of it anymore. I live in isolation anyway so nothing has changed for me, so far. I was expecting a pandemic to be delivered by Nature as a way of reducing our numbers. It had to happen but I had hoped to be gone before it arrived! My father was a survivor of the 1918 pandemic. Best wishes, Nikita.
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Thanks for your thoughts. There are many parallels between USA and UK. We also have two dominant political parties and a largely right wing media controlled by big business. Conspiracy theories abound and like you say it depends on who and what you choose to believe. Truth is a relative construct. And there is no trust left in politics. Hope all goes well with you. We must keep on keeping on. x