Monday, February 22, 2021

Getting Tired of Covid

 I am losing my patience in dealing with the Covid pandemic. Yesterday my wife and I went on some errands to replace a modem and buy some data, and I came home very frustrated.

We mask up when we go out in public as requested by Ghana's government and as required by the larger businesses in the area. When we arrived we did our usual hand washing routine outside the store before an employee pointed his thermometer gun at our heads to get our temperature, and then he squeezed two big pumps of sticky hand sanitizer on our recently cleaned hands. We then walked a few paces into the store and were met by another woman who informed me that I was not social distancing, since I was standing next to my wife. She had us separate and stand on some floor stickers further away from each other. She then said we had to sanitize our hands. We explained that we did so 15 seconds ago by another employee and pointed to her coworker standing near the door, but she insisted we add more sanitizer. My wife did so but, before I could, I was told only one of us could come in the store, so I sat in a waiting area outside the store. 

I know these precautions are an attempt  to slow the spread and protect people. I also respect private businesses to enforce whatever rules they decide. It is their business; "no shirt, no shoes, no service comes" to mind. Even though I see where they are coming from, I am getting sick of this. In that moment I had some empathy for the people I've seen on the Internet complaining about the loss of freedom and making a scene in public places. 

Here is my problem: If this disease had a high mortality rate and there were dead bodies stacked in the streets, I would be the first to wear a full hazmat suit, if I even dared to leave my home at all. Ghana has over 30 million people and over the last year there have been 565 deaths from Covid. In contrast, they experience about 2,000 deaths from traffic accidents a year. I am much more likely to die driving my car here than I am from Covid.

I understand the mortality rate changes significantly when comparing different countries, age groups, and those with existing health problems, but I just don't feel it is the threat that we are told it is. I think the way this pandemic has been handled has been more detrimental than the actual disease. Isolation, inactivity, uncertainty, loss of livelihoods, and damage to the economy has caused an increase of stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicide for many people. We can't be blind to all the collateral damage that has occurred.

I'm also frustrated by the many conflicting messages from the "experts". At first we were told we don't need masks, then you were a grandma killer if you don't want to wear one. Within the last week, "experts" suggested we wear two masks! Whenever scientists, virologists, or doctors share opposing views and data, or question the efficacy of masking for this particular virus, they are often crucified by the mainstream media as being quacks or conspiracy theorists. 

I just wish there was more "science science" and less "political science" when it comes to Covid. For some reason, the disease is no longer a threat once you walk in a restaurant and sit down to eat. A group of maskless friends can sit next to each other for hours eating and laughing with no problem, but if I'm driving with my immediate family in my car with the windows up and come to a police check point on the road, they want to know why we are not wearing our masks. 

I have seen many arbitrary and illogical rules as well as a good share of hypocrisy and abuse of power from leaders and experts around the world when it comes to Covid precautions. That makes it all the harder to jump on board and do whatever we are told for the greater good. 

Luckily there is a vaccine available now. I am not an anti-vaxxer but I am not excited about injecting myself with an experimental vaccine that has been tested for less than a year, with no long term studies. I would actually jump at receiving it if it solved the problem and I could return to the normal life of pre-2020 but, after receiving the vaccination, I am told you still have to social distance, wear a mask, and you can still get Covid!

When I went to the mall last week I noticed the sign above. This has been up since last March when the Pandemic hit. This is what "science" is saying here. I guess I will stay away from our goats and will make sure to cook my eggs very well to protect me from the virus. 

I believe this virus is real and can be deadly to a certain segment of the population. We should all take common sense steps to protect ourselves and we should do more specifically for those high risk individuals who are the most vulnerable. Whatever we do, let's handle it with actual science and truth, not just fear or good intentions. We've experienced a year of contention, judging, name calling, fear mongering, and virtue signaling and I'm sick of it. Protecting lives doesn't have to be done at the exclusion of our livelihoods, standard of living, or freedom. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Conspiracy Theories

You may have noticed that over the past several years the concept of conspiracy theories has become more popular with some individuals while at the same time being immediately dismissed by others. Recently the label of conspiracy theorist is being used as an insult.

The definition of conspiracy is "a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful." A conspiracy theory is defined as "a theory that rejects the standard explanation for an event and instead credits a covert organization with carrying out a secret plot."

Since the world began there have been countless conspiracies and you would have to be a fool to think that they don't exist. Anytime people work together in an attempt to cover up a crime it is a conspiracy. The problem is when some people attribute almost everything they see on the news or in the government as a conspiracy. 

There are some really good movies address this topic. Films like Close Encounters, 3 Days of the Condor, The Manchurian Candidate, The X-Files, Capricorn One, The Divinci Code, Jack Reacher, and many others have all featured a person who had a hunch or inside information that something about an event was not right. They are immediately labeled as being paranoid or crazy. They then have an uphill battle with superiors and the public as they try to prove there was some kind of cover up by the higher powers. This concept makes for great movies but isn't usually applauded in real life.

There are some people who say conspiracy theories don't exist and refer to those who believe in them as tin foil hat wearing, delusional people. These are the people who quickly dismiss any theory and are quick to label those who disagree with them or question government as conspiracy theorists. They frequently say things like "the government is here to protect us, it would never do that" or "how could that many people be in on the secret together without someone finding out?"

On the other extreme there are some people who attribute almost everything that happens to conspiracies. Some people don't believe we landed on the moon. When there is a mass shooting they insist that it is a false flag and that the victims are government actors. These paranoid people don't trust anyone and are suspicious of everything and of all authority.

Neither of these two extremes give their cause much credibility. I find myself more in the middle. I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist but I'm troubled by unanswered questions about 911. I believe in vaccines, but I 'm disturbed with certain aspects of the industry. I believe in government and law and order but I also have concerns about government overreach. I just don't care for the current trend of calling someone a conspiracy theorist as an attempt to silence them or make them look crazy.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is let's not be so fast to attribute every thing that happens to a behind the scenes secret organization that is out to enslave us. At the same time, let's not dismiss people's concerns they have about ulterior motives or consequences of things they see happening around us. If you wonder why people don't always trust their governments, just look at the history books and see what horrible things those in power have done to others through the ages.

Solving this issue once again comes back to being able to determine real truth, not just what most people or a biased media outlet may tell you. That is the ironic challenge of our day when there is more information available than ever before but we are not sure which sources to trust. 

On a lighter note, my boys have a Youtube channel where they do short comedy skits making fun of movie tropes. I wrote the following sketch for them about this subject.