Melbourne, population approximately five million, is struggling with a second wave of COVID-19. The premier of Victoria (like a State Governor in the US) issued a new regulation last Sunday stating that from Thursday 12:00am (or midnight Wednesday, if you prefer), everyone must wear face covering of some kind when leaving home.
Because people are alarmed by the resurgence of this very nasty virus, it is likely there will be reasonable compliance, at least to begin with, while the ‘on the spot’ fine of $200 will ram the point home. I’m hoping the Victorian Police will be thoughtful and supportive when enforcing the new rules.
[There’s a link from the above excerpt to the complete cartoon by First Dog On The Moon]
At Vinyl Connection, my long-running music blog, I posted some album covers featuring some form of mask or face covering. It was tongue-in-cheek, an attempt at humour in grim times, and most of my regular readers were instantly on-board. However a new visitor, from somewhere in the US, said the LP covers were brilliant, even though ‘face masks are not only absurd, but evil’.
Absurd? Evil? What?
Maybe I was missing something, so I looked up ‘evil’ just to refresh my memory regarding where Forces Diabolical stand on the issue of protective clothing. Couldn’t find anything particularly helpful other than the advantages of asbestos underwear.
I thought about the demonstrations against being ‘forced’ to wear a face covering, as if it was some kind of punishment.
‘I don’t want to’
‘I don’t like it’
‘You can’t make me.’
The other theme seemed to be about ‘rights’. I have a right to do what I like. Well, that’s true, but it’s only half the story. As one of my influences (American psychiatrist Sheldon Kopp) wrote,
You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.[Sheldon Kopp 1972]
Or, to put it another way:
But here and now, the consequences rebound on society–neighbours, parents, colleagues–not just on the individual.
The current fashion of debunking science and mocking expertise of any kind doesn’t help. People may be equal in value, but they are not equal in expertise and knowledge. Conflating the two is dangerous. I may be an adequate therapist, but you wouldn’t want me teaching you scuba diving. We are seeing the endpoint of this process in the White House, where expertise, truth, accuracy, and integrity are all but extinguished. Democracy absorbed by the Idiocracy.
I can’t know everything. In fact I know less every day as knowledge expands while my capacities diminish. That’s why I don’t believe in science, I trust it. I trust scientists who have dedicated their lives to questioning, investigating, proving, challenging, testing and sharing knowledge based on replicable studies. Belief may be a kind of optimism, a hope for an answer from beyond, but I’m not willing to bet my life on anything lacking even a shred of empirical evidence.
I want to live to see my son grow into a man (he’s well on the way, but I’m greedy; I want at least thirty more years) so I will listen to people who actually know what they are talking about and prepare for a brave new world of death defying visits to the supermarket.
I hope people will do the right thing. It’s called The Greater Good and it has nothing to do with doctrine nor eroding anyone’s ‘rights’ but everything to do with being sensible. So I’ve written myself a reminder list.
- Wear a mask if you possibly can.
- Remember that while no-one actually knows what’s going on, trusting science is far more rational than swallowing beliefs.
- Avoid ill-informed people and conspiracy theorists. Those broadcasting their fears in this way will infect you like a virus.
- Try not to overreact.
- Be gentle with yourself and aim to be kind. Kindness is an antidote to fear.
- Take care at the supermarket.