Extreme Lockdowners = Extreme Anti-vaxxers
COVID-19 pandemic is just the last in a series of things that have been dividing people. As always, most people tend to take a stance that is either pro or con. After a year of the pandemic, two streams prevail in the public space. Let’s call them lockdowners and anti-vaxxers. The tension occurs when both sides end up in extremes. In this article, I will try to explain the following statement:
Extreme lockdowners = Extreme anti-vaxxers.
I also spoke to a psychologist Nikola Greb who shared his thoughts on this matter.
So last weekend I attended a massive illegal anti-lockdown protest in London to write a reportage. I spoke to people from every single point on the ‘COVID-19 rebellion’ spectrum. I spoke to some who don’t support the Government and Boris Johnson. They think he is a fraud who is not capable of leading the country. Then I spoke to some people who are concerned about human rights, particularly women and children who suffered a lot during the pandemic before they finally went back to school recently. Then there were those who say restrictions are exaggerated and lockdown has taken freedom away. Basics of democracy are questioned — the right to move, the right to speak. The right to protest!
“What is next? When do we stop calling it democracy and start calling it a dictatorship,” they ask themselves?
Then I started to climb higher and higher on the spectrum. So I spoke to those who don’t trust vaccination. They believe the safe vaccine couldn’t be made in such a short period, and they don’t want to be ‘lab rats’. I also spoke to ones who don’t believe there is such a thing as a virus at all.
In the end, I decided to give the floor to people who are on the top of the spectrum. So I spoke to a man who believes Bill Gates created the virus in the first place in order that he can produce vaccination to kill half of the world population and create a new world order. Or something like that.
As I was listening about Gates’ plan to depopulate the world, I couldn’t stop asking myself where I have seen this way of communication before, where I have seen these irrational ideas and such a strong effort to convince me into something. Where have I seen such a strong identification with a stance? Where have I seen such fear before???
“I know!” I suddenly realised. “I saw it the eyes of those people who are saying that we are in a war with the virus, in those people who are calling other people bioterrorists for not wearing a mask on a train, in those people who believe a strict lockdown is the only reasonable thing to have in place. In those people who were buying toilet paper excessively.”
“And that’s why I won’t get vaccinated,” the man said.
“Sorry? Why?” I asked when I stopped daydreaming.
“Because of Bill Gates, are you not listening to me?”
“Right! Sorry, I lost myself in thought,” I said and kept walking.
Extreme lockdowners and extreme anti-vaxxers are two sides of the same coin. They all live in their illusion that is based on fear. And the fear of death is the base of all fears. Just as extreme lockdowners are convinced COVID-19 will kill everybody, extreme anti-vaxxers are convinced vaccination will kill everybody. They tend to completely identify with their stance and whoever is not according to that stance is their enemy. That’s how fascism rises and exclusion of those who don’t think alike. It is ‘we’ and ‘them’ and ‘we’ are ready to do everything to prove ‘them’ wrong. Just as the opposite. Everything!
I spoke about it with a psychologist Nikola Greb, the author of the book ‘The Power of Human Virtues’ (Snaga ljudskih vrlina).
He explained to me his perspective on extreme lockdowners and extreme anti-vaxxers.
“Extreme lockdowners and extreme anti-vaxxers are a phenomenon that is based on the fear which blocks the rational way of thinking, so the overview of all the possible solutions is not achievable. In both cases, we are talking about an unproductive distance from reality wherein a person consciously or unconsciously endanger himself, but also others.
Terrifying moments simulate the emotional reaction of fear. When we are under the emotion of fear, our cognitive functions are reduced. Also, selecting one absolute truth further reduces the capability of understanding and processing different perspectives. This way, a person reduces emotional pain and uncertainty, which brings temporary relief, but a long-term mood, that is based on fear, leads to destructive and irrational actions that are dangerous for that person and society.
Nikola also shared an approach he believes would be better than just opt to pro or con.
“It would be better to keep the mind open and to see the pandemic as a continuum, from complete lockdown all the way to denial of the virus, and put yourself on the scale somewhere from 1 to 10, and be aware of your choice. I think such a choice is the first step towards a greater capacity for rational thinking, and, therefore, for making better decisions.”