It’s better we overreacted, you say?

Those of you who were in favour of “overreacting to Covid” have not truly thought about it.

In context, I hear this argument when (still) trying to explain to people the unmanageable consequences the earlier lockdowns will have for years to come. I encounter the argument when I try to explain that we needed some measures, but that locking up an entire population wasn’t reasonable (nor probably constitutional). That we knew the at-risk groups and could have spent more effort to protect those, rather than closing schools for example. And finally, that neither government nor media did a good job at explaining the virus, proven by the fact that I see people all by themselves out in nature wearing a mask — spoiler: there’s no way you can catch the virus outside without someone literally sneezing in your face. (You’re contributing the most by sneezing into a tissue or your elbow, and by washing your hands frequently. But I’ve covered these points at length already).

So, on to my one example. Many people in favour of overreacting to the virus are those very much in favour (at least on social media) of protecting Black Lives and defunding the police. Here’s the thing: the argument that leads to police brutality is exactly that of “it’s better to overreact in order to be safe”.* No matter how much is wrong with the way of thinking that leads up to that point — i.e. “there’s a black person, they probably have a gun, I better shoot before they do” — the prejudice aside, this is self-preservation. Yet you call this self-preservation wrong. And rightly so, because it harms a number of largely innocent people at the hands of a small powerful group.

With Covid we went so far as to harm a vast majority of people for the self-preservation of a much smaller number of at-risk groups. Starting to see the hypocrisy? It’s a small, but powerful group of people (be it cops or ageing politicians) who are willing to put in harms way a larger group of ordinary people (be it innocent or not at-risk) to protect themselves rather than doing what’s best for a majority.

The only difference between cops and politicians? The cops have their self-preservation techniques engrained through training. The politicians, I feel, are bumbling and bungling along, unprepared, even though scientists had long warned that a next pandemic was due.

Anyway, if the above doesn’t speak to you, just think of anything else that might affect you and your life, because of your gender, sexuality, colour, size, interests, religion, accent, wealth, etc. and then tell me you’d be in favour of someone overreacting against your entire group of people for their self-preservation. I very much understand that we’re living in the age of overreacting to everything all the time, but all I want for you is to think about a single example that has affected you — doesn’t matter what it is — where another person harmed you by overreacting and you will understand my entire stance on politics and society.

In the case of Covid-19 it just so happened that billions of healthy people were harmed to save a few hundred thousand ageing people with co-morbidities. I am not saying they should have been thrown under the bus. I am saying we could have channelled our efforts to protect them and didn’t need to ruin our economies and create civil unrest. We will deal with more and more uncertainty in our future and we cannot take unsustainable measures like shutting down entire countries whenever a new situation unfolds.

*I support Black Lives Matter. I also think we need the police. Defunding is not a solution, re-education is.

South China Morning Post

I am a scientist and writer. I aim to be a voice of reason and facts in this distorted world in which opinions are considered truth.

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