by Hilary Bowring, Contributing Editor
This series on estrangement seeks to understand some of the differing faces of estrangement and the crossroads it approaches for good or ill.
Can alienate and separate
Opinions formed in our minds can forcefully separate and divide us whereas at a deeper heart level we care about each other. From my perspective we are all part of One Consciousness so it behoves us to hold benevolence and care for each other, but that’s not our ‘go-to’ level of consciousness at this time. In fact we can be estranged very easily. Estranged from people family and friends because of a rift in opinions and values, which is happening all over the world regarding politics. As the political divides widen some households have ostracised those who don’t share their beliefs. Beliefs so strongly held as to override the love and connection that once prevailed. Hugely profiled in the US but divisive politics are exploding all over the globe. It’s almost as if the binary of ‘Us’ vs. ‘Them’ has to reach an intense stage of conflict to collectively realize we can’t go back to the old way of civil wars. Estrangement has deepened its hold beyond politics: the Pandemic has opened up new tensions and disagreements. Time to understand where this reactivity comes from within ourselves and allow each other’s idiosyncrasies to be. Move beyond the binary set up and get to know the characters and situations who make us feel estranged and enraged even.
The pandemic has intensified divisive thinking as government containment measures continue. Raising questions about what is valid control versus encroachment on individual freedom.
When the virus first hit there was a collaboration to shut things down in response to the unknown danger, especially as parts of the world were visibly out of control regarding spread and death. In the beginning many people were compliant and a sense of ‘’togetherness’ developed. However after a year of dislocation and isolation the mood is different. And views are dividing over what is good government and responsible behaviour in the population.
From the seminal book 1984 by George Orwell. “Doublethink” –‘means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’ This can be interpreted positively as the ability to hold the paradox that Unity despite division can still exist. That it’s possible to sustain compassionate neutrality with each other even when we can’t agree.
This conversation postulates that the divisive reactivity comes from wounded parts of each of us that can overwhelm our natural kindness and empathy. We have all been wounded in the journey of life and we can try to be tolerant of the signs of that in others. As we tune in we can evolve and find better language to communicate with neutrality and compassion, be able to hold compassionate distance.
- Fact vs. psychology
There are some facts, some misinformation and some personal biases in all these controversies. Underneath particular positions held by individuals can be different unresolved anxieties. Let’s explore the inner propulsion.
I’ll declare my own –I have never liked being told what to do, ever since a little girl, so I have difficulty obeying dictates unless I’ve had time to think and consider if it makes sense to me. And I have a rebel in me with a tendency to be opinionated. Friendly suggestions work better than commands with someone like me. Media fuelling fear offends me deeply.
- Authoritarian Control
The government controls are strongest from the old establishment countries and definitely a concern. The over-bite of ‘protectionism’ is usually about the financial interests of the few. The response to uncertainty in the name of security has allowed governments to control citizens in ways not seen since the Second World War and some have gone too far with curfews etc. Surprisingly the Netherlands with their reputation for progressive social policies applied curfews which have subsequently been over-turned by their supreme court. Thankfully we do have charters in place in many countries to protect our rights and freedom.
Some feel conspiracies underpin the pandemic. Those most inclined to this belief have had firsthand experience of rigid government control, or even a parental influence that was draconian and authoritarian at times. Others feel a lack of trust given the track records of many politicians. And they may well be right…Daily news seems to be more about fuelling fear or about personal opinion rather than unbiased reporting of facts…Things just don’t seem to compute for me anymore. I had a word with the bank teller last week and said ‘funny how there aren’t any flu deaths this year” ‘Yes he said…but nothing much we can do about it”. My hint meaning that some of the deaths might be registered as Covid but actually Flu.
Some might argue that there is less Flu because of all the precautions of mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. Fair point.
I question the blanket approach still being applied. It seemed reasonable at the outset of the pandemic when we were dealing with an unknown. Now we have more experience and see the worst hit are older people in Care homes and people with low incomes who have to go to work to survive even if they have symptoms. Let’s support and change the predicaments. Make care homes not for profit. Instigate sick pay through employers for part time workers. Lockdowns are creating terrible mental health issues through the isolation. We are social beings and need touch and hugs to be well, this fact of human health needs to move higher up the conversation .
I think it is right to question when and where is appropriate. Masks indoors in public places make sense to me. However more people are wearing masks outdoors even where stacks of social distance is possible, there is no science supporting this, as aerosol transmission dissipates quickly outdoors. It’s beneficial for our health to breathe in fresh air, and I’m concerned about school children being advised to wear masks outside. Despite my opinion, I can see some adults feel greater personal safety wearing a mask everywhere, which asks for our respect and kind allowance.
Anti-mask people may be very triggered by the symbolism of being silenced with the mouth covered and such emotional refusal overrides any claim of useful protection of others. They need to be treated with deference, not rudeness and punishment. Anxieties stem from totalitarian governments or regimes of female suppression. Some Anti- maskers make it a political badge of the Libertine.
- Pro choice re-immunization
Throughout the world is the compunction to roll-out the immunization programme to beat the virus. And applause exudes for the scientists involved and to governments who manage to quickly and effectively manage the distribution. Of course this solution is to Big Pharm’s financial gain and I cannot help but feel suspicion. Why hasn’t research into treatments been given greater focus and investment. I am pro choice and strongly against mandatory vaccination. Feeling very concerned about the prospect of immunization passports. Why has there been no education about building our Immune system. Of course there are no expensive drugs in that scenario.
Good news! Happily I can report that there is a new experiment here in Canada and in the UK where Drs will be issuing ‘Park Prescriptions’ / ‘Green Prescriptions’, prescribing daily time in nature. 20 min per day!
Follow the science
Is the popular lingo–Many people use this term to justify further lock downs, mask use and testing and vaccination. The main guiding measure is computer modelling to predict future cases and severity of infection waves which includes worst case scenarios. Unfortunately that is what the media tend to pick up to sensationalize and get sales. Which in turn becomes a sort of truth that politicians become pressured to use as the determining factor re lockdowns. Why is there no accountability for modellers, where is the tracking of prediction vs. actual outcome? I’d love to see those…
There is usually something underneath these passionate stances we take and I think it helps diffuse the antipathy by contemplating our inner motivations and sharing them. Being tolerant with each other sometimes means keeping loving distance rather than becoming Estranged. Voices need to be heard and honoured when civil liberties are taken away in the name of protection. We deserve to have unbiased information from the media and scientists and doctors. Even medical groups get politicised in an attempt to gain more funding from government using scare modelling about system overwhelm. Why not be honest and say we have never had enough hospital beds to handle any surge in illness in the fall and winter, time to get that fixed—invest in public health!
The Truth, from my perspective, is we are all part of One Consciousness. We have to find ways to re-unite to evolve in a positive direction for us and our planet