We Swallowed The Fearmongering We Were Fed
We've Rolled Over And Accepted Lockdowns While Waving Goodbye To Freedom.
When a death from COVID is reported, journalists and politicians refer to it as tragic or sad, offering thoughts and prayers (has there ever been a more hackneyed phrase?) to family and friends.
Suicide, on the other hand, is far too awkward to mention. Deaths from alcohol or drug overdose, or intimate partner murder, are rarely deemed tragic or sad. Family and friends might not agree, but there are no thoughts and prayers for them.
Such is the state of things in Australia, where COVID is the only show in town and its suppression or eradication (depending on which state you’re in and which politician is in charge) the only thing that matters.
The average age of those dying from COVID is higher than the national life expectancy, yet the debate is about children getting vaccinated. Hospitals and ICUs have huge surge capacity, yet we are constantly told the health system will be overwhelmed. A year and a half since we had a two-week lockdown to flatten the curve, Victoria has suffered over 200 days of lockdown and NSW is not far off it. And despite around half the adult population being vaccinated, there is nothing resembling the UK’s Freedom Day on the horizon.
What is genuinely sad, indeed tragic, is that this has been accompanied by the trashing of so many fundamental values. The basic rights we once took for granted have been turned upside down, and many are now saying they no longer recognise their country.
Take freedom of movement: Australia is now locked down tighter than North Korea. On pain of arrest, huge fines and imprisonment, nobody may enter or leave the country or even their state and territory. Millions in Sydney and Melbourne cannot go further than 5km from their home and, like naughty children, must be home by 9pm. Australians overseas are blocked from returning by quarantine caps or cannot leave again if they do return. For a while it was even a criminal offence to return.
Freedom of religion has also been trashed. Churches and other houses of worship were closed while brothels remained open, church services have been disrupted and worshippers arrested.
As a population we allowed them to do it, swallowing their fearmongering and sacrificing freedom for perceived safety
Freedom of assembly and the right to protest have been met with brutal force, not unlike the treatment dished out to democracy supporters in Hong Kong.
Protesters are vilified by the government and media, although Black Lives Matters protests were praised. And, also like Hong Kong, Victoria’s parliament is suspended while local government elections in New South Wales are postponed.
Then there’s freedom of speech. Who can forget the arrest of a woman in her own home for using Facebook to promote a forthcoming protest?
Perhaps most tragically, our relaxed and laidback culture, in which authority was never taken too seriously, has been transformed. We’re now encouraged to dob in our neighbours (and plenty have done so), masks are a symbol of obedience, the military is helping to enforce ‘compliance’, and police helicopters broadcast stay-at-home orders. In effect, everything is forbidden unless allowed, and there’s not much that is.
We know who is responsible for all this – spineless politicians and the public health mafia who manipulate them, not one of whom has suffered personally from the devastation they have wrought on jobs, careers, education, business and mental health. The voices of those paying the price – people in casual jobs that no longer exist, students unable to complete their studies, parents struggling to educate their children at home, owners of cafes and bars with bills piling up, plus all the others whose life does not fit the model of a work-from-home government employee, are silent or ignored. They are collateral damage in the anti-virus obsession.
But we are also guilty ourselves; as a population we allowed them to do it, swallowing their fearmongering and sacrificing freedom for perceived safety. When they told us we were the envy of the world, we puffed out our chests and believed them. When they said they’d keep us safe if we voted for them, many of us fell for it.
But now, as we think about re-joining the rest of the world, some uncomfortable questions need to be answered. Will we continue to expect the government to keep us feeling safe and protected, irrespective of the cost to our rights and freedom? How much do we actually want free speech, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to protest? It is no longer possible to predict the answer with any confidence.
Clearly, we are no longer the country we used to be, or at least what we thought we were.
As Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
Art by Josh Spencer.