Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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We’ve had our Peter Pandemic adventure. Now let’s grow up


THERE’S an old joke about a woman who asks her husband to tie her up and do what he wants.  He does – and goes to the pub.   

In March 2020, the nation was asking to be tied up in lockdown and the Government obliged. Then it went to the pub.   

The many commentators now aghast at the get-togethers in Downing Street are forgetting themselves. They were demanding more lockdown, harsher lockdown. Remember when we were saving lives by staying in?   

The nation shouted, the media with them, and the Government was given a ticket to do what it liked in the name of saving lives. The outcry now over Boris et al going for drinks seems a poor substitute for what should have been an outcry then.  

But why would a nation jump eagerly at the very notion of giving up personal responsibility and actively asking to be locked down? What happened to us? 

There was, of course, a very serious infection in 2020 that started in China and spread quickly to Europe. It was called Lockdown Fever.  The infection’s main symptom was a feverish excitement for lockdown.   

Other symptoms including a significant regression to a childish state, affecting our ability to think ahead, and a loss of the ability to discern information.  

The sufferer took on a state of unquestioned beliefs in nice and kind things, with the NHS becoming a secular Santa Claus. We decorated our windows in excitement and participated in regular banging of our pots like baby rattles to show our child-like wonder and enthusiasm for that benevolent deity.   

The devastation of this spreading attack on our faculties led to us lying around in our homes waiting on adults talking to us like children on our TVs. Language was simplified and visuals were produced to help us understand the risks. 

Of course, a high level of repetition was needed. And we were supported with reassuring baby-talk adverts and shop announcements about being kind and safe to help reduce our childish anxieties. The impact on our moral decision-making was extreme.   

We invented goodies and baddies. Remember the Covidiots (now anti-vaxxers)? Telling signs of the worst-affected included a patronising vocal tone, running to phone police about restriction-breaching neighbours, or photographing walkers through your window to put on Facebook.   

Severe cases of Lockdown Fever had completely removed all of moral responsibility and ‘I was just following orders’ was an acceptable response to the vaguely adult voices that remained.       

For some of us, immune from Lockdown Fever, it was a lonely and terrifying few weeks. Few people seeing the clear impact of this new infection were brave enough to try to deal with the pitchfork-yielding Children of the Corn crowd. 

The crowd could turn nasty and could sniff out a sceptic through adult questions about why we were not targeting and supporting the vulnerable by throwing the resources in their direction. The idea of keeping the vulnerable safe was a sign of adult presence of mind. But, as we learnt, childish minds don’t really do logic and the immune were simply pouring water on a chip pan fire.    

There were no outward signs of THE PANDEMIC! for me at the time. No body bags or hazmat suits, other than on telly. The Army didn’t arrive on our street. The Government was smart enough to know that although the nation wanted to be treated like children in some ways, in others the nation drew the line. 

Alcohol consumption went through the roof. Deliveries of fun fast-food? Not a problem. We weren’t Alice in Wonderland learning to cope with adult problems. We were in Peter Pan’s Neverland.   

We went back to childhood and demanded that our government took on the role of parent. We asked for it and now we are offended that those in charge appear to have been making faces at us behind our back.     

Of course, the problem with adults being children is that actual children get left behind. We sacrificed children’s education and wellbeing and now we complain that Boris had a party. We wanted to be children for a while and now we find out that our leaders are human after all.    

It’s time we put away childish parties and took on an adult role by starting to focus on doing what’s best for our young.  Here’s an adult thought: Maybe we could continue to demand full information about how many children are going to be negatively impacted by a vaccine for a disease that poses very little risk to them (including that most adult of concepts – injury or even death). Let’s grow up and talk about what number we are happy to be sacrificed. 

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Gail MacDonald
Gail MacDonald
Gail MacDonald is a professional psychologist and writer. Views expressed here are her own.

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