13 For I hear many whispering threats from every side, conspiring together against me and scheming to take my life.
14But in you, Lord, I put my trust; I say, ‘You are my God.’
15My fortunes are in your hand;’
Psalm 31: 13-15 – Revised English Bible
For those of you who continue to enjoy the irreverendpodcast, you will have heard that they are opposed to any kind of ‘celebration’ of the anniversary of our year spent in ‘lockdown’, which is reached today, 23rd March. I’m totally with them on this, but I do think that maybe there’s a case for a review of the not inconsiderable list of things that we’ve learned or been forced to relearn, since COVID first started affecting our lives on a daily basis. I’ve jotted down some of the most important; I’m sorry that it doesn’t make for pretty reading. The list is too long to be dealt with in one blog, so I’ll publish the second one on Friday this week. This is my first list, by category:
Government & Public Behaviours
- People are all completely different. The last year has shown that some of us are very easily terrified. I wish I could say that our government believes that it’s irresponsible to terrify its own citizens; I fear all the signs are that it doesn’t.
- People are, it would seem, very easily manipulated, and by and large have been totally passive to a government takeover of their lives and freedoms. This is worrying for the future; what the government’s learned about our passive acceptance of it taking unparalleled powers is unlikely to be unlearned quickly.
- We’ve learned that death in particular is now more feared than it has been at any time in human history. This isn’t healthy; death is a quite natural part of life. This may be caused by the decline in faith in recent decades; if you believe there’s no meaning to life, then death becomes final and terrifying, even if you’re 80 or 100.
- We’ve lost a functioning parliament, and we no longer have any kind of organised opposition to the government. I believe this to be a most dangerous place for our country to find itself. Why has the Labour party abandoned the very voters that first brought it into being, those who economically struggle the most?
- The government has been allowed to get away with misleading us and sending out irresponsible propaganda in advertising; it’s not true that ‘anyone can pass it on’; you have to have caught it to do that. And it’s doubtful also that ‘anyone can get it’, unless you believe that those who’ve already had it or have had the vaccine have no immunity. Even at the height of the infections, the maximum positive test rate was 3%; it’s now a fraction of that.
- Government messaging has also encouraged people to worry about their own health, at the expense of others; this is the very opposite of what they should have been doing. I genuinely feel we’re not far from people being attacked in the street for not ‘social distancing’ to a passer-by’s satisfaction.
- We’ve learned that government messaging has been very poor and lacking in even basic common sense. If we can’t now open up our economy because of the risk of importing COVID from elsewhere in Europe, then what was the point of the vaccine programme? What’s the logic behind allowing Supermarkets to sell birthday cards, when card shops have to close by law? And what’s the logic or sense, let alone the science, behind curfews and alcohol bans?
- We’ve most certainly learned, if we ever needed to, that it’s impossible to accept at face value reports of the spread of COVID in China and in other authoritarian regimes. How on earth could anyone think otherwise?
- We’ve learned that government lawyers are shockingly bad at drafting clear, unambiguous legislation. And we’ve learned that the Police cannot be trusted to police ambiguous laws with common sense. The loss of trust in the Police is likely to be another long-term casualty of lockdown.
- We’ve learned that it’s impossible to make direct, fair comparisons of deaths between different countries. Some countries have a requirement for a cause of death to be established beyond doubt by post-mortem (and post mortems have declined as deaths have increased). Other countries have been allocating deaths to COVID, when the link has been, at best, tenuous. Why would the UK want to define a COVID death as a death from any cause within 28 days of a positive test, even an asymptomatic test?
- The government has been guilty of suggesting that instead of the virus being the cause of illness and death, it’s people’s behaviour. This approach has been grotesque in its manipulation of the public, who mostly have been incredibly compliant. The payback is likely to be massively increased mental problems and suicide, in addition to a lack of respect for all authority.
- Without a functioning parliament and opposition, the role of the media in holding the government to account becomes far more important. By and large, they’ve completely failed in this duty and have instead colluded with the government in pumping out ‘terror propaganda’. Our media seem to be getting worse with the passing of time. Why?
- The media have irresponsibly abandoned almost all investigative journalism. How can it possibly be, for example, that we still don’t know what caused the shortage of PPE last spring?
- We’ve been guilty of not challenging the authorities for using the term ‘Cases’ when they don’t mean cases, but positive tests, which is not the same thing at all. The media has connived in this and bears a lot of the responsibility. The behaviour of most of the media has been disgraceful.
- Again by and large, we’ve developed an extremely unhealthy relationship with the NHS, which has almost assumed the role of a deity. Was I the only one who thought that the NHS was there to protect me, rather than the reverse?
- We’ve learned that the NHS has been completely unable to control the spread of COVID in hospitals. The fact that 40% of ‘Cases’ have been picked up after arrival in hospital is little short of a national scandal; why is it not being debated?
- Why did we allow the NHS and those who run it to get away with not preparing for a winter surge in COVID cases on top of the normal, year after year, winter overload? This again was absolutely disgraceful.
- Our ‘free’ (meaning vastly expensive) NHS has proved that it is not capable of dealing with even a modest pandemic. We should prepare ourselves for the shocking eventual toll of non-COVID deaths.
Science and SAGE
- It’s not possible to ‘follow the Science’. Science, despite the general public’s misconception, has never spoken with one voice and some of those who disagree with government scientists are even more highly qualified than those that serve on SAGE.
- We’ve learned that despite the enormous strides in science in recent generations, we still understand very little about how our own bodies function. This isn’t a bad thing, as long as we wholeheartedly embrace this and use it as a driver for future change.
- Scientists can be as arrogant, biased and manipulative as any other members of the public. It’s therefore grotesquely irresponsible for the government to abdicate its responsibility for governing the nation to a group of unelected scientists.
- Some Scientists in positions of power have refused to engage in debate with those who are every bit as qualified as they are, and instead have resorted to cheap character assassination. They either don’t know, or don’t care, how much damage they will do to public trust in Science when this is all over.
- There’s no scientific evidence that masks stop the spread of COVID. If you still don’t believe this, read this excellent article: https://www.aier.org/article/the-year-of-disguises/. We’ve learned through the public’s love of masks that most people do not have the ability to grasp how small 100 nanometres is – one ten thousandth of a millimetre (the size of a single Coronavirus). We simply do not know how such very small viruses behave in the real world, but we do know that they cannot be stopped by the masks sold for this purpose.
- Personally, I’ve learned that we seem to have tens of thousands of Professors in the UK, and many of them seem to lack even basic common sense. How has this happened?
On Friday, I intend to publish part 2 of this post, which will cover the sub headings of Lockdowns, Statistics, Testing transmission and immunity, Vaccines & international co-operation and finally Children and young people.
O Lord, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen