A contentious Christmas


A clever ole-time calypsonian with a good lyricist behind him or her would have penned a special Christmas song named something like Covid for Christmas,

Covid has become more than a deadly virus attacking our respiratory system and defeating our defences to its newness and power, bringing death in its wake; it has divided us into believers and non-believers, ie, the vaxxers vs the anti-vaxxers. This Christmas, 2021, will be remembered for all the bad feelings and negativity, the selfishness, the greed and the duplicitous acts being perpetrated against people ill-prepared for managing the extraordinary crisis in which humankind finds itself.

This is probably the most contentious and unconventional Christmas in a long time and calls to mind the terrible Bible story about Herod the Great and the Baby Jesus, which relates that when the cruel and power-mad king could not find the newborn Messiah to kill him, he ruled that every newborn male in Judea be killed instead – the Massacre of the Innocents. That was one very bloody Christmas time and maybe, if we scale up, the worldwide Christmas deaths from the novel coronavirus are just as heinous.

The difference is that it is not the death of innocents; many of the people who are dying from covid have chosen to do so. Their obtuseness in the face of an invisible, lethal force could well be an expression of paranoia or lack of trust in the state and society. Refusing to be vaccinated is an act of empowerment and self-protection, even if it kills them.

I have a vivid image in my mind, from childhood, of a classic medieval painting of Jesus and Lucifer confronting each other in a barren landscape. The contemporary battle between logic and reason on one side and the powers of ignorance and wilfulness on the other can be summed up in similar imagery. If we still had wry cartoonists plying their wit in our national newspapers they would be having a field day.

I keep asking myself, how did we come to this juncture? It seems like the Dark Ages all over again. The irony, however, is that in the present day we have so much knowledge, so much science and so much potential for things to be better. There is science everywhere.

Too much, maybe. It must be going over everyone’s head. For sure, the masses do not seem able to make sense of it and the scientists and the conduits have failed to understand that given the cultural shift in society, which makes us disinclined to think deeply or sustainedly upon almost any issue, that just putting the facts out there was not the right thing to do.

It is encumbered governments that are paying the price. Who in their right mind would want to be a politician or prime minister at this fractious time? In the “free world” every government is under siege, brought on by covid and its intensifying of the schisms in societies. Governments are doomed if they do the right thing and they are doomed if they do not.

We should consider that we elect groups of politicians and we charge them to perform the duties that we want and need them to, on our behalf. Top of that list is to keep us safe: safe from hunger, violence, sickness and all manner of life-threatening and life-shortening experiences. Only irresponsible governments behave in the way ex-President Trump in the USA and Bolsonaro in Brazil did, denying the existence of the modern plague and encouraging citizens not to protect themselves, then, when they each got infected, seeking first-class medical treatment, while the poor foolish citizens die in their tens of thousands. They should be sued for crimes against humanity and suitably punished.

With that in mind, consider the current objection from the unions and the Opposition to the TT government’s policy on non-payment of salaries for public servants who refuse to be vaccinated and choose to stay at home. It is a perfect example of the war zone that politics has become. The government's move is a not unreasonable attempt to get people to act sensibly in the face of overwhelming evidence that we could be overrun by the virus. Maybe we need many more thousands of people to die before we listen to good sense and reject the baseless notion of some global conspiracy to do what, I am not sure, to “us.”

The definition of who is “us” and who is “them” also eludes me. It is laughable that some group of people – each person has a different idea of who constitutes that group – could unite for long enough to agree on something like starting a plague. To what end? One lesson I have learned is that “the Establishment” is always where you are not. There is no one Establishment.

So, from a fractious Christmas 2021 to, almost definitely, deepening division in 2022. I wish you, dear reader, all the wisdom and inner strength to weather the storm.


"A contentious Christmas"

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