Yesterday I watched a powerful conversation between American podcaster Aubrey Marcus and Belgian psychology professor Mattias Desmet. They were talking about something I've been feeling more and more during the last weeks and months: the increasing divide and hostility amongst the people on this planet. I'm not really scared anymore of the new coronavirus, but of what's happening to our old society. What's happening to us.
On one side, a mass formation is taking place with the dominating narrative that the vaccine is the only solution out of this pandemic, and everyone who refuses to get vaccinated is evil and needs to be excluded from most of normal life. On the other side, another mass is forming, where the conviction is cultivated that the only way out is to kill Bill and his evil elite friends. It's very unlikely though that either approach will bring any satisfying solution. Why not? Because a focus on evil never solves anything.
I think it's absolutely wrong to ignore or trivialise the suffering of suffocating people in the ICU's. Equally, I think it's just as wrong to ridicule people's fears of a relatively new vaccine. Who suffers more, the one who loses a loved one after a bad infection with the virus, or the one who loses a loved one from an adverse effect of the vaccine? What's worse, the fear of getting infected or the fear of long-term damage? Who is losing more freedom, the one who can't go back to normal, or the one who can't continue to work? And if you lose the choice over what's being put into your body today, what might you lose tomorrow?
Some might argue, 'but there are far more deaths from an infection than from a vaccine'; others might say, 'only 1% of adverse reactions to the vaccine are actually reported'. You want to talk about numbers? Fine. Since the beginning of 2021, over 8 million people have starved, many of which were children. This has nothing to do with it? Yes, this has everything to do with it! The number one risk factor for a severe Covid infection is obesity, while every ten seconds a child dies of hunger – how much clearer does the message has to be? As Jean Ziegler said already many years ago, 'a child who dies from hunger is a murdered child'. This has been happening for years, on and on and on. We could have solved it by now, many times over, easily. But we didn't.
This pandemic isn't a health crisis, it's a wake up call! We've stopped being truly human a long time ago, and each day it's getting worse. We're freaking out when there's no toilet paper, while millions don't have clean water; we argue over which vaccine we want or don't want, while thousands get shot with the weapons we're producing and selling so we can buy more toilet paper. An exaggeration, I know, but whoever doesn't see the sad truth in it, isn't looking properly.
People are excluded from social gatherings because they are not vaccinated, other people are excluded because they are vaccinated. Wherever this is supposed to lead, it can't be a healthy place. Do we really want a deeply divided society? Do we want civil war or some kind of 21st century totalitarianism? And no, this time I'm not exaggerating.
We urgently need an open and respectful debate. We need to start listening again, instead of constantly judging. We need solutions, not mandates. And most importantly, we need to choose more wisely which side we're on.
Here's the beautiful part: There aren't only two sides. There's a third one, and that's the only side that makes sense to me. It's where right and left, wrong and right, fear and hope, life and death, where they all coexist. Where there's a little bit of hate, but much more love.
The third side is the side of humanity. It's the river that connects us all.