The grim milestone of 750,000 deaths has been passed this week. With infection rates going up all over the World, here in Germany, something strange seems to be happening to the Volk.
Life during the Corona pandemic is affecting everybody differently.
politics | opinion | covid-19 | germany | conspiracy theory | fake news
The weekend of 1st August 2020 saw thousands of people taking to the streets of Berlin to protest the "Corona Measures" that have been implemented by the Government. By "Corona Measures", I am, of course, referring to wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose when using public transportation, or when you go into a shop, museum or gallery and maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.
These measures are being called draconian, authoritarian and dictatorial by a group of people who have named themselves the "Querdenken". (Literally, thinking outside the box). But what these people are really protesting about is not the Corona Measures, but more the fact that they are overwhelmed by the complexity of the World that they live in right now.
A group of people, so trapped in their own opinions, so distrustful and blinkered, that they compare the year 2020 with 1933; failing to understand that if they were truly living in that same environment - with Communists and Facists on every street corner - these Querdenkers would be bludgeoned to death or imprisoned just for their hairstyles.
Their complete mistrust of science, facts and the press, will lead to a generation of children without protection against chicken pox, let alone Covid-19. Their irrational fear of being impregnated with a microchip from Bill Gates and the unlawful collection of their data - all the while posting articles by “lateral” thinkers on Facebook and other social media sites - completely missing the irony and contradictions of their increasingly rigid beliefs.
This group of privileged Europeans, who believe that their incoherent and incessant ramblings could possible mean anything to anyone outside of their own bubble, is egocentricity on steroids. Social media has given them a platform and they are damn well going to make sure that everyone hears what they have to say. And please don’ try to disagree with them. They are incapable of dealing with an opinion that differs from their own.
To be a part of society, part of a democracy, entails doing things that you didn’t personally vote for; things you don’t personally enjoy. If one of those things involves wearing a mask on the train and at the supermarket, then to live democratically, means that I have to wear that mask. The majority wants me to wear the mask, so I will wear the bloody mask! So, when these alternative thinkers scream from the rooftops that the press are lying to us, that we should stop being sheep and blindly following advice that keeps us and others safe, I have to ask again – have they understood the true meaning, the actual definition of the word “democracy”?
The Dunning-Kruger effect, popularised by Donald Trump, has taken hold of those who already felt unheard. These protesters have wildly overestimated their ability to carry out the task of changing a society, for what democracy means, if nothing else, is the offering of alternatives, solutions and a political discourse - following the rules of the democracy you want to change and help shape. Democracy should not be against anything. It should be for something.
They believe that the mainstream media and journalists have the power to shut down protests, all the while failing to recognise that on the other side of the World, journalists are on the street protesting their right to report the truth. Their collective lack of knowledge regarding the importance of a free press - what having it and supporting it truly means for a democratic society – is mind boggling. The absence of competence, has rendered them too incompetent to realise their complete lack of competence.
YouTube channels and Facebook pages are filled with the drivel being espoused by these self-proclaimed virological, epidemiological, climate research “experts”. They hold the German constitution aloft, misreading and misunderstanding each and every word. Only when real experts, or just those who have read and understood the constitution, confront these self-appointed justice warriors, do we see the cracks begin to show in their fragile egos.
Without the ability and proficient language required to articulate their demands; driven by a fear of losing control over things they never had control over in the first place - they shout louder and louder. Believing that the louder they shout, the more likely they are to be heard. They make unrealistic and unobtainable demands, because they have suddenly become aware of their complete insignificance. They are afraid.
Their unawareness of how they themselves will pave the way to a real dictatorship, ignoring the 75 years of peaceful living that the continent of Europe has enjoyed (no other people on this spinning rock we call Earth have ever known such privilege), they have lost sight of the genuine freedoms that they have. Failing to recognise that these protests they organize, having the right to protest against their government primarily, is an advantage many would be envious of, and many have lost their lives trying to protect.
To be afraid is to be human. Who is not afraid of the world right now? On a daily basis we are confronted with the deaths of thousands of fellow citizens from an unknown and uncontrollable virus; the climate disaster is still the biggest challenge we face as a global community; systemic racism destroys the lives of our black and brown friends and family; sexism and femicide remains a subject not taken seriously enough by society; the list goes on and on.
I live in Germany, but I am from the UK. I can’t help but think that these Querdenkers have so much privilege, they are simply trying to find something to complain about. Admitting to their fear would harm their pride and force them into acknowledging that not everything in their lives can be controlled or solved by those in power. The German government, under the leadership of Angela Merkel, has become the envy of the World. They have injected billions, if not trillions into the economy in an attempt to protect people from destitution and poverty. Something that most Americans wish their President even gave a passing thought of doing.
Of course, it’s not perfect in Germany. It’s not perfect anywhere. (except perhaps Finland!) But this is a Government clearly trying its best to protect its citizens. The Corona Virus is an unprecedented event in our lifetime, and its not about to go away anytime soon. So, let’s take stock, be thankful that we live in a country where we are protected, where we can protest and where we have access to a press free from Governmental control. These freedoms and privileges can easily be lost if we are not prepared to listen and accept that we may be wrong.
“… I seem, then, in just this little thing to be wiser than this man at any rate, that what I do not know I do not think I know either”.
(from the 1897 translation by Henry Cary)
This blog post, is a kind of translation from a comment left by an anonymous reader on Die Zeit website after the protests in Berlin. I have added my own thoughts and opinions.
This post was also published on Medium.