Monday, 4 May 2020

So this is how it begins

Last year, I read 'A Handmaid's Tale'. I haven't seen the tv series. While the book left me with more questions than answers, the premise is that human fertility is substantially reduced and women, like the main character, are 'hired' by rich, barren, couples to bear them a child. In the space of what was only a few years, a male-run society has developed and women are constrained to defined roles and hierarchies, their freedom of movement is restricted and life as they knew it is a thing of the past.

I couldn't figure out the time period that it took for things to change from 'normal' life, same as like our pre-covid existence, to that of the book, but it seems like it was only a few years. I don't know whether it was the whole world or just the whole of the USA but I get the feeling it was a specific area / town. This aside, when you consider the change that took place, within a short period of time, I found myself asking, "How could they - regular people like you and me - have allowed this to happen?".

And then you look at history - genocides, concentration camps, cults - and you see that it can indeed happen in a very short space of time.

While we're all behind the sound reasoning for lockdown, other restrictions don't make too much sense - but we're following them.

As far as no alcohol sales... Well, sure, domestic violence could be worse in an alcohol-fuelled environment aggravated by lockdown conflicts so preventing alcohol binges would help to reduce domestic violence. But domestic violence happens without alcohol too. Murders and the like are down - the murder rate certainly affected by alcohol. But that people are not grouping and gathering and ganging during lockdown probably had a greater positive impact on reducing murders. With fewer alcohol-induced incidents, there is a lesser burden on emergency wards and hospital resources - to make more space to deal with coronavirus patients. 

Of all the restrictions, this is one that I can reason but these alcohol-related social issues are everyday problems that always needed this level of consideration. Personally, it doesn't affect me either way but this restriction is nonetheless a control element over the behaviour of people.

No cigarette sales? I abhor smoking but again it is another restriction that has no bearing on coronavirus. Not having access to ciggies during lockdown has no effect on transmission of the virus, especially considering that social distancing should be adhered to and that people are locked-down at home. As for being forced to stop smoking... Some may come out of this as ex-smokers, but others will jump right back into puffing. Are smokers a high risk group for greater severity of covid-19 illness? Yeah. But this is for damage done to their lungs prior to lockdown and having no smokes for two or three weeks is not going to change their risk profile.

Now that we're in Level 4 restrictions, we are permitted to exercise outdoors. Walking, running and cycling only. Between 6am and 9am. Only. It makes absolutely no sense. But, we're sticking to it and even changing our exercise patterns to do so. Online, people vehemently support the restriction - it is better than not being allowed out - and those who speak out about their displeasure are told to stop moaning and to be thankful for this concession.

Consider if, to reduce congestion and increase social distancing during this three-hour window, the exercise time frame was split into something like women on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and men on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Or even women from 6am to 7.30am and men from 7.30am to 9am, alternating shifts on alternate days so that each gender got a chance to enjoy the early or later time slot...  Would we just adapt to this, thankful to still be allowed to exercise outdoors?

With these examples, it is quite easy to see how a greater population of people can be controlled by a smaller group through restrictions and fear and threats and allowances. And then, it is a hop, skip and jump to 'A Handmaid's Tale' situation.

I do not think that the regulations we are abiding to have been derived with malicious intent, but while out running (before 9am), I did think about the book and how life can be changed - in an outrageous way - just like that.

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