Where does one start when faced with the litany of crises, plagues and altogether sordid developments 2020 has, ever so brutally, unleashed onto our unsuspected heads? Where does one start indeed…
Before such a flood, one’s only hope would be to retreat to the comfort of one’s ark … Noah as it were had a good mind building one; we most definitely lacked the foresight. Well actually it is not the lack of foresight I most deplore but rather our inability to wield our intellect and exercise reason when confronted with One, the hubris of politicians and Two, the hubris of politicians masquerading as experts in fields they have proven to be illiterate in – ie: sciences, economy, health and dare I say it, managing our state institutions.
For months now I have watched our world descend further into chaos on account of a virus we were told would decimate our ranks, render our health services null, and bring about plagues deadlier than those narrated in the Old Testament. In the face of so much fallacy, for let’s admit it, even if for a moment, COVID-19, while unnerving is hardly a global catastrophe in and of itself – rather it is the remedies to its miasmas which have burdened us beyond the tolerable, I cannot help but recall Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again …”
Indeed we have fallen … who will now attempt to put the pieces back together?
Yes people have died and we ought to mourn their passing, but this does not abstain us from demanding of our leaders to exercise the very responsibility they demanded we grant them, and that is to lead without giving in to a populist narrative which main goal is to cater to our fears so that we would better give up our rights, and instead to give us the courtesy of an intelligent discourse on how to handle a crisis, which needed not to be the end of our economies.
Since 202o has pretty much exhausted my patience in much things, I will, for the purpose of this article anyway, work on the assumption that state officials until proven otherwise are inept creatures whose sole purpose thus far has been to run us all into the proverbial wall; while we, for reasons which escape me still, acquiesce, node and drudge along as mindless ducklings would.
Only we are not ducklings! Our humanity demands of us more than our collective propensity to submit to the whims of our politicians for fear of what our refusals may buy us. Especially when such fears are allowing for the disappearance of our hard-fought civil liberties, our right to dance to tunes other than those dictated by mainstream media, and above all things our right to think us free – free to exist and revel in our idiosyncrasies, free to embrace views to then discard them when offered reasonable, defendable and provable arguments, free to question and challenge those who sit in positions of power, and free to exist in the holy confines of our sovereign self.
Freedom we may find, might not see the dawn of another year. THAT is the plague befalling us… not so much this pesky virus which does not warrant the grand adjectives we attached to its proclaimed lethal claws. Though legions may disagree with my statement is of little consequence. To argue that the ‘remedies’ our ruling class conjured up to oppose the spread of covid-19 is in my mind not only hypocritical but naive.
Our governments, the UK in the lead have, for all intents and purposes ruined us. In the midst of a global recession, which may soon prove to be far worse than that of the 1930s, we have yet to grasp how incredibly irresponsible and baboonesque our state leaders have been so far, so busy they all have been to play ‘politics’ when really they should have rolled up their sleeves and act the leaders they claim to be.
We are what our leadership made us … here we must own to our share of guilt. No government can exist without its people’s mandate – and in this dynamic of power silence echos louder than the most vocals of contrarians. Our distractions and our preoccupation of the mundane – ie: the intellectual blackhole that is social media have been the threads used by our elite to usher this alternative socio-political reality we call covid-19.
Yes, lives matter and all should be done to preserve and protect them, but not without context, and certainly not without the impartiality and objectivity one must wield in the face of impossible dilemmas… such as is the art of ruling by the way. Our lockdowns and ‘preventive’ measures have done little by way of addressing the virus. However they marvellously exploded the fabric of our global economy and geopolitical world order, thus condemning millions to the throes of destitution, social unrest and war.
While we argue curfews and mask wearing how many crises have we chosen to ignore to instead contemplate our navels? Yemen, Lebanon, Israel… There are too many to count.
I posit that saving lives, or rather the pretense of saving lives, should not cost us our civil liberties. Fear cannot, and should not be the foundation upon which tomorrow’s tyrannies are built upon.
Let us all remember that governments’ interests, geopolitical and otherwise seldom ponder over the many means they could or should employ to save lives. Rather, governments and those running them have been and are in the business of power and its many pursuits. Power and its bride, Control are central to the social hierarchy we all find ourselves in. Lives, all of our lives are of little consequence in such a schema.
Today’s demagoguery has become intolerable, even more so now that the State has employed an all too willing public to censor those whose ideas somewhat run against the mainstream. Our ecosystems – political, social and otherwise have been sanitised to such an extent that we all have become sycophants to our own tribalistic mindsets.
Our social feeds and search engines tuned to echo our beliefs and prejudices so that no contrarian ideas could ever breakthrough, propping up our individual egos in the belief that we are right in our views, the very views we have been forced-fed through ad nauseam media exposure.
To be a contrarian those days is a social sin, our collective media complex is unlikely to forgive… and most likely to censor with all our acquiescence.
Enough is enough… 2020 is a stain that we can wash away if only we wanted to.
Catherine Shakdam is a research fellow at the Al Bayan Centre for Planning & Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements. She is the author of A Tale of Grand Resistance: Yemen, the Wahhabi and the House of Saud. She writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.