My Blog Week: August 22 to August 28
A Word on the Week
Helpful Friends, part two
One of the principles of product-free gardening (which is not simply organic, but zero pesticide, herbicide, etc.) is that you can’t have the predator unless first you have the prey. Applied to nature, this means only bearing up with aphids and caterpillars, in order to have ladybugs and tanagers.
In social circumstances, we can identify predators, some of whom are political fundraisers that mislead and fearmonger, and sign donors up for monthly payments they hadn’t intended to make. And this week, we’ve learned about medical practitioners, degree-holders, yes, who have been exposed as recommending, and profiting from, the dewormer Ivermectin.
Social predators flock, too, in areas where prey exists for them. I’ve seen the question raised a few times…how can someone reject the vaccine, a free and proven way to avoid Covid, and pay for something out of left field, that sends them to the poison control center? How did the anti-vaxx, anti-mask stance become so fraughtly emotional? Predators gain, materially, while their victims only lose. So what can we understand about this will to plunge into victimhood?
Covid broke under the worst of presidential administrations. The mask message ought to have been straightforward, and free masks furnished to every postal address. Under the Emergency Powers Act, factories with sewing capacity could have generated millions of a basic type, sparing medical suppliers and their stock of specialized masks. (How many refrigerator magnets, tote bags, note pads, have you been given by all sorts of businesses, while even now most people are still buying their own masks…?) But officials being lukewarm on insistence, combined with the great majority not owning a mask, allowed the “freedom” narrative to take hold.
It was nobody’s fault, but it didn’t help, that the vaccines were rolled out in stages. The most damaging kind of thinking is conditionality, a type of magical thinking. What we don’t have to decide, or are unable to do today, exists in a conditional state. We can intend to do it; we can believe with sincerity that we might, or will, do it. That equates to not being a bad person, on the wrong side of a particular decision, because we are psychologically on the path to doing right.
The more the vaccine was made available, the greater the pressure to go ahead and get it; the more, then, that the reluctant felt judged. Because they had plenty of time, the doubters could gain confirmation on Facebook and others, in social media discussions, making the temptation to substitute the mere “I am not a bad person” with “I am a hero of resistance. The vaccine hasn’t been adequately tested. I don’t trust the CDC…” and so forth, too intimate a matter, between persuader and victim, for wiser advisors to intervene.
Raising alternative possibilities (monoclonal antibodies, hydroxy-chloroquine, Ivermectin) is a tactic that muddies the waters. In the conditional world nothing is proven, so anything might equally be proven. The pretense that the course of action is uncertain gives permission to anyone who’d rather do nothing, live in the old maskless way, and hope the pandemic blows over.
Threats of dying or being harmed are rarely immediate, and so we rarely feel fearful. Vaccine reluctance isn’t failing to come to grips with dying, but having no (sense of) occasion for it. Meanwhile, aversions are a reaction taught by experience, most often the experience of being bullied.
America is a bullying country; a lot of people have a bad relationship with authority. We don’t believe we’re going to get Covid, but we believe, if forced to sign papers, stand in lines, submit to procedures, we will get the runaround. And a lot of anti-vaxxers, for clustering with fellow anti-vaxxers, cringe acutely from the thought of ridicule.
Aversion generates secrecy. Take a person then, who doesn’t want life disrupted: normal. Who doesn’t feel strongly motivated by weak and contradictory recommendations: normal. Who feels well at present and tells Self that Covid can’t be worse than the flu… “They say it isn’t…” Shading from normal to aversive. There is evidence enough to respect the danger, and to know whether you are in a high-risk cohort.
Take a person, then, who gets involved with persuaders and has aversions fanned into paranoia: not normal. One who affiliates with a fringe group, and grows desperate to avoid being bullied by the group: not normal. And here, you have a trajectory towards secret purchases of questionable treatments, absurd ideas of natural immunity, or of God-protection.
On Monday, a new Jumping Off poem. Tuesday, The Sword Decides!, Andreas waking to a meeting more expected than not. Wednesday, the conclusion of “The Bog”, a clash not quite of values, and a family gathering. Thursday, Hammersmith, and a return to town for Aimee and Vic. Friday, Shine!, a departure, and grief for Annie. Saturday, “The Big Pants” part two, the retreat’s participants getting to know each other, and the Messerman Method, better.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: August 22 to August 28