Living in Interesting Times

Reality is subjective. I never used to think that. I mean, how can reality, something that one would assume can be empirically proved or disproved, be open to interpretation, conditioned on whether someone accepts it or doesn’t accept it?

Then came social media, which does have some uses (hi fam) but is also a veritable, all you can eat buffet of political polarization, culture clashes, countless conspiracy theories, and trolls of every persuasion. So many opinions, so little tolerance. I sometimes say opinions are like farts: everyone has them, no one wants to hear anyone else’s and most of them stink. Except mine of course. Mine smell like roses.

But back to reality, so to speak. Let’s look at something that one would think is a fact or isn’t: COVID-19. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It is a particularly nasty virus circulating around the globe with a high infection rate, a higher than average death rate, and long-term consequences for those who contract  and survive it. Or is it? I guess that depends on who you listen to, or what you believe yourself. For health care workers, for example, it seems to be undeniable and has brought about a relentless ordeal that is overtaxing every health-care system that has to deal with it. But that’s not unilaterally true either, as a number of Youtube videos are circulating, produced by health care workers claiming that we’re being scammed and that there are empty hospital beds and unused ventilators stockpiled in basements. Some people believe COVID-19 is such a threat that they put on masks and gloves to bring their bins to the sidewalk. Others are having COVID-19 parties because it’s all a load of nonsense, until they actually contract the virus and change their belief, or not. Economies are shut down and people are put out of work because we’re being indoctrinated into the New World Order with Bill Gates set to vaccinate us with the mark of the beast, or else it’s because we’re facing a potentially catastrophic pandemic about which next to nothing was known initially and, even with discoveries made daily, there are still too many knowledge gaps for comfort. And it was all manufactured in China, or came from eating bats, or something else.

If you are waiting for me to tell you who is right you will be disappointed. Everybody is right, or at least everybody believes they are right. Each of these concepts represents somebody’s truth, their reality. How can this be? Wouldn’t it be a simple thing to prove, at the very least, what the basic facts are about COVID-19 in a way that cannot be disputed? No. But we can’t trust the main-stream media. They each have their own agendas and slants on events in line with their corporate owners. We can’t trust scientists. Who’s funding them and what are their vested interests? We really can’t trust politicians. At best, they are trying to juggle economic considerations and the health and safety of the population, with varying degrees (or lack) of success. In Ireland, for example, we’re telling everyone to wear a mask and be vigilant, but then we’re letting tourists fly in from highly-infected Texas who are apparently meant to quarantine on the honour system (i.e. not quarantine). When we can’t count on anyone to be straight with us, the best we can do is attempt to triangulate what the facts are by looking to see where the various accounts intersect.

“May you live in interesting times” is, ironically, a Chinese curse. The times are certainly interesting, and uncertain. We are challenged with conflicting scenarios and are left to choose what we believe to be true based on how we filter what we see, hear and intuit for ourselves. Our worlds are changing drastically, with this virus being only one example of a catalyst bringing about that change. We can be stressed and even fearful of those changes, as many are, or we can try to take this malleable world, focussing on shifting it in a direction of our choosing that is aligned with love and compassion, while trying not to get distracted by the potential triggers bombarding us daily.

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