History is rich with stories about the unstoppable struggle of the human spirit for freedom. Time after time, societies have marched forward in non-negotiable, steadfast resistance to tyrannical regimes. However, at the beginning of 2020, societies around the world submitted without question to unprecedented restrictions and narrowing of freedom. Staying safe and surviving seemed to be the main concern around which everything else revolved. This article by Charles Eisenstein explores the possible reasons for our almost sheepish resignation to universal demands that force us to find a compromise between our freedom and perceived security. The surprising passivity with which these duties have been met is an insidious symptom of the security culture. Eisenstein argues that the culture of fear that has accompanied Covid-19 poses a real threat to what makes life worth living. Left unchallenged, we risk reducing life to mere survival. – Nadia Swart
What made us so compliant with the insane, tyrannical policies of COVID?
A society imbued with fear will accept any policy that promises security. How to reduce the surrounding level of fear?
Pa Charles Eisenstein
I’m resuming my occasional series discussing the ground conditions that make society susceptible to pandemonium. See my last post about pandemonium if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
I’m excited to restart this series because of some conversations I’ve had over the past few days that have reminded me why I don’t let this question stop.
A man, I’ll call him Kyle, shared a story with me last weekend. He was a nursing home administrator who was given mRNA injections without much question because he needed to keep his job.
Immediately after the second, he had an anaphylactic reaction and was rushed to the emergency room.
He barely survived.
He subsequently had to quit his job because it required all employees to receive booster shots. He shared his experience on social media, but his posts were removed for violating community standards.
A few months later, he looked himself up in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, to see if his case had been reported. It wasn’t.
Kyle didn’t seem angry about what happened to him, but his trust in the system would probably never be restored.
Others I have spoken with are not so unanimous.
They are furious, and their fury is undiminished by being told to forgive and forget, with no accountability for the people who implemented the COVID-19 policy, and no reason to think it won’t happen again.
This rage can easily be directed at innocent or superficial targets. The danger of us carelessly returning to normal life as if the pandemonium never happened is paralleled by the danger of rage turning into fueled hatred of one another.
Indeed, the most shocking aspect of the pandemonium was the splitting of society, churches, clubs, schools and even families into warring camps.
I’m writing this random series to do my small part in preventing pandemonium from happening again. In my view, it is not enough to remove corrupt officials from power or to reform medical, pharmaceutical and regulatory agencies.
My question is, what makes us as a society so vulnerable to their manipulation?
What has made us so complacent about the insanity of COVID-19, so ready to believe the lies, so ready to accept degrading, tyrannical and irrational policies?
The first two conditions were the fixation on the enemies, as well as the morale of the crowd and the formation of the masses.
To number three…
As long as public health policy debates take for granted the assumption that its goal is to minimize disease and death, then other values will inevitably be sacrificed on the altar of safety.
Civil liberties do not ensure people’s safety.
Parties and raves do not protect people. Hugs and handshakes, live performances, festivals, singing groups and football games do not keep people safe. Children are safer at home than on the playground. They are safer in front of screens than on the street. Even without COVID-19, this is all true.
When we argue about whether masks or lockdowns have really affected the incidence or mortality of COVID-19, we are tacitly making the assumption that if they have really helped, we must.
We accept risk minimization as the most important guiding principle of public policy. In accepting this, the implication is that we must mask, distance and lock away forever. Why not if we live for security?
Does that sound far-fetched?
Various health authorities are advising this, notably the new chair of the World Health Organization’s technical advisory group, Susan Michie. In 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that we should never shake hands again. If we make it all about safety, they’re probably right.
Actually, let me take that back: They’re probably wrong.
The irony of chasing safety is that it brings temporary success, but quite often even greater danger in the long run.
Consider the extreme in which everyone lives in an aseptic bubble. No disease vector can penetrate, so they are absolutely protected from infection.
On the other hand, without a problem, their immune system deteriorates, making them vulnerable to any normally harmless germs that enter. They must maintain constant vigilance. They will never feel truly safe.
Moreover, even if the microbe never enters, they will suffer from other diseases because the beneficial microbiota will not be replenished and modulated through constant exchange with the outside world.
Life does not thrive in isolation.
No one lived in a completely airtight bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are nevertheless signs that the reduction in cold and flu transmission did weaken people’s immune systems.
Many people have reported catching the “mother of all colds” after toning down.
The higher post-pandemic mortality rate may be due not only to vaccine damage, but also to general impairment of immunity and well-being as a result of isolation.
Ironically, it now appears that the shots may not even make people more protected against COVID-19 (see here for an entry down that rabbit hole).
In short, the obsession with security bears bad fruit.
The same with all forms of security state. Countries with large prison populations, large armies, and foreign wars tend to suffer from high rates of crime, domestic violence, and self-inflicted violence (suicide).
If we make everything about security, the public will be easily manipulated into addressing any threat that makes it unsafe.
To make ourselves immune to this, we must recognize other values such as fun, exploring boundaries, adventure, sociality, touch, laughing together, crying together, breathing together and dancing.
After all, the purpose of life may not be to one day go to the grave in maximum safety.
One obvious objection to the above is, “It’s fine to take risks yourself, but it’s unethical to do anything that endangers the safety of others. No one has the right to put others at risk.”
Moreover, because self-risk potentially involves the use of hospital beds that may become available to the critically ill, any risky behavior actually puts others at risk.
This is a straw man argument.
It is not about maximum freedom in reckless disregard for the well-being of others. It is that both collectively and individually, we must affirm values other than security.
In the title essay of my new book, The Coronation, I asked:
“Would I ask all the children of the country to give up playing for a season if it reduced my mother’s risk of death, or my own risk for that matter? Or I might ask, “Would I decree an end to hugs and handshakes if it saved my own life?”
What I meant to say is that collectively we have decided just that. We did this because we considered safety to be our top priority. Social contacts, civil liberties, and everything else were explained as “insignificant,” sacrificing them as minor inconveniences.
Collectively, at least in our political consensus, we have decided to stay as safe as possible.
Under what circumstances does it really make sense to live life with minimized risk? Well, that might make sense if you were immortal; when, by avoiding disease and injury, you can stay alive forever.
Almost no one actually believes they can live forever, but many of us act as if we could. This is why near-death experiences are often so transformative.
The same goes for the death of a loved one or a close encounter with death. They unravel the illusion of permanence that modern culture strives so hard to preserve.
I won’t say more about it because I’ve written a lot about the death phobia in Coronation and I’ve talked about it a lot on podcasts and I’m tired of repeating the same thing over and over again. It should be obvious—the purpose of life cannot be to survive it, and the attempt imposes upon us a cramped and terrifying half-life.
Safety mania and death phobia are not sudden, inexplicable insanities.
They are part of a comprehensive condition of human being that has reached its extreme in modern civilization. He is an individual thrown into a spiritless material world who longs to protect himself above all else.
Those who know they are part of a story bigger than their biography are more willing to risk their lives for it.
The best example of this is simply a love story. To love means to include others in one’s circle. It is an expansion beyond one’s individuality. Your pain and your joy are inseparable from your loved ones.
Of course, we still want to stay alive, but for a loved one, this is not the highest priority. This is why I have long warned the environmental movement against the “We must change our ways or we will not survive” rhetoric.
The real solution is to fall in love with the living world again, to see it as a lover, not as a resource gathering, a waste dump, or an engineering project. Then we will not only survive; we will flourish as it does when they are partnered with their beloved.
Safety mania and fear of death are signs of disconnection from purpose and passion. If you have nothing more important than your own life, then survival remains the only goal.
Because our civilizational answer to the question “Why are we here?” unraveled, it is difficult for many of us individually to answer this question either, because the individual story draws from the collective.
Okay, I realize I might have gone too high for the practical purpose of preventing the next bout of pandemonium. So I’ll end with this: We can reduce our overall susceptibility to fear mongering by reducing the level of fear that exists in society.
A society gripped by fear will accept any policy that promises security. How to reduce the surrounding level of fear?
There is no unequivocal answer. Besides, each of us already knows how.
Originally published on Charles Eisenstein’s Substack page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Children’s Health.
© [08/11/22] Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with permission from Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Children’s Health. Your donation will help support us in our efforts.
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