Stubbornness and stupidity are twins.
Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.
— French Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne
WE ask, what has the coronavirus pandemic taught us?
One of the things I have noticed (and worry about) is that there are people around us who refuse to take the least possible action asked of them to protect themselves and others from genuine danger by masking up.
This has actually been quite a hard lesson to learn. From solo subway riders to complacent beat cops and even a few frontline medical workers and barangay officials and staff, I’ve seen and been disappointed by the apparent selfishness of their public actions—as if asking them to please not spread their germs during a global pandemic was an intolerable personal affront.
But how did they make the decision that the deadly epidemic affecting the rest of us would somehow pass them by? Where does their great confidence come from, considering they are watching the news and seeing tens of thousands of people become infected and die all around them?
On last count, over 2.37 million Filipinos have been infected with Covid-19, and out of this number, 36,788 have died from the disease. And there are reports that even those who have been fully vaccinated still contract the virus, like in Pateros where 100 percent of its citizenry have been administered two doses of their vaccine jabs but there are some who continue to have symptoms and are being quarantined inside their homes tagged with yellow markers.
Well, perhaps those who are complacent of the health safety protocols enforced to stop the spread of Covid-19 are not actually watching the same news as the rest of us. They’re being influenced by a far more conservative and skeptical media, forums that bristle at the idea their personal freedoms should ever be curtailed by anything at all, including the coronavirus.
So what happens to individual freedom when it is asked to show some social responsibility? The answer is that it all breaks down.
Increasingly the people being asked to show some social responsibility are breaking down too, staging iPhone recorded freak-outs in public in places like grocery stores, malls and public conveyances and transportation such as the LRT (Light Rail Transit) and passenger buses, airlines and sea-going ships, where some of them erupt with utter fury at being asked to trade their own personal comfort for the terrible chore of protecting themselves and others for the duration of their travel or presence in a store or establishment by masking up and wearing face shields.
Many Filipinos have always had contempt for science and for the scientists who strive to protect us from deadly diseases. We saw this in action with the authorities and health experts, whose patience for health secretary Francisco Duque III has endured as long as it meant no political blowback from the public, whereupon it immediately ended.
There’s a deep strain in Filipino life that will not endure being told what to do, even if it means putting themselves at risk of deadly diseases. They would literally rather die than listen to the advice of others. They would much prefer to expose themselves to a dangerous virus rather than expose themselves to the idea that their personal actions can be curtailed.
You cannot reason with someone who cannot bear to listen to the science that contradicts their self-interest. You can only watch with horror as they act as if pandemics are things that only affect other people, not them, because they don’t believe in it.
I have heard a neighbor saying that the pandemic is merely an invention by the government to suppress people’s rights while high-ranking officials of the Duterte administration are raking it in ‘big-time’ from cuts and commissions in government’s expenditures in its pandemic response.
But the news is also filled with the iPhone recorded messages of intubated conservatives in overflowing ICU units telling all their friends and relations that it turns out the coronavirus is real after all, and that it might be a good idea not to make the same mistakes about it that they did. Sadly, many of these messages are posthumous, released after the maker has needlessly died.
We’ve said this before and we want to repeat it here: pandemics do not care who you voted for, they do not care what you personally believe, they are no respecter of your hard-won personal freedoms, and they don’t give a damn about what you think at all. They only have one aim—kill you!
If you spend all your time bitterly grousing about how a pandemic impacts your worldview and personal politics then you are a simple friend to Covid-19’s global plan, that is all.
Cruelly, stupidly and cynically some people are fighting a mask ruling, which would have imposed strict mask requirements on people to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The consequences are obvious, of course. We are number eight in the world’s ranking in the number of Covid infections.
So alongside the tragedy of the pandemic, we have also had to endure the tragedy of some of our most selfish neighbors, who have made it clear—despite all the tricolors in the front of government building and schools—that they don’t give a damn what happens to the rest of us as long as they’ve got theirs. (ai/mtvn)