Opinion Politics

Grown-up Children and Lockdown

By Anna Wright

Every parent is aware that the moment will come when they will have to destroy their child’s fantasy. They will have to admit that Santa Claus is not “real”.

For my friend, it was a particularly painful ordeal. You see, she allowed her 13-year-old daughter to believe in the fantasy for a little too long. A 7-year-old or 8-year old will forgive you and move on, but a 13-year-old has too much invested. My friend didn’t intend to keep the lie going so long. It was far more a case of her headstrong, imaginative daughter being unwilling to give up the magic.

As she grew older, friends at school – presumably a little bemused by her devout belief – would hint at the fact that the Santa story wasn’t real, but she refused to succumb to their bubble bursting tactics. She would come home and roll her eyes at her mother, telling tales about the nonsense her heretic friends were spreading. But this past Christmas, my friend decided enough was enough. She sat her daughter down and explained that Santa was just a made up story, partly upheld to make children behave themselves in the run up to Christmas, because – as we all know – only the good and obedient children get their gifts.

There followed two days of hysterical tantrums. There were tears; doors were slammed. But the upshot was this: Santa would not be defiled. Another Christmas came and went; the fantasy remained untarnished with the truth.

I was reminded of this story when I saw Keir Starmer come up against a desperate, angry, frustrated former Labour voter and exasperated publican on Monday 19th April. Rod Humphris confronted the Labour Party leader, exclaiming that he had failed the country. Rod pointed out that the average age of someone dying with or from Covid is around 82, which is in line with the country’s average age of death in most preceding years, and on that basis there was absolutely no justification for the abhorrent and abusive lockdowns that have devastated lives, left many locked out of any health care and decimated the educational experience of a whole generation of children (my choice of words in describing harms of lockdown restrictions).

Starmer’s response was, “I am not going to be lectured by you!” He sounded like a petulant teenager. Interviewed on camera later, he stated that Rod was entitled to his “opinion” but that he, Keir, “profoundly disagreed” with it. I was reminded of my friend’s daughter who effectively said to her mother, on hearing Santa did not exist, “You are entitled to your opinion but I profoundly disagree with it.” The Labour Press office (sounding like Keir’s playground gang) later Tweeted that their leader had been accosted by a man “spreading dangerous misinformation.” It may well have been dangerous to the Labour Leader’s fantasy, but it was not misinformation since it was taken straight from the ONS website.

I had a similar experience recently when I tried to explain, over the phone, to the operations manager at my gym, that their request for people to wear masks was unwise since they admitted they had done no risk assessment on the harms of mask wearing. When I suggested sources they might refer to, he retorted, “I am not going to have a conversation with a conspiracy theorist!” And hung up on me.

We clearly have some deeply disturbed and disgruntled grown-up children in the world, throwing tantrums over the fact that people are ceasing to believe in their fantasy. I am reminded of a powerful and poignant quote by George Orwell (significantly written in 1946 as the true horrors of the Nazi regime were coming to light). He said, “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

I confess that it was with some relief that I watched Starmer stamp his feet. I have found his actions over the past 12-13 months so absurd, I was almost beginning to believe the insane conspiracy theories circulating about him. I have read that he is a member of some elite organisation called the “Trilateral Commission” and is in cahoots with Tony Blair to usher in a digital ID that would create a health apartheid and end civil rights forever. That is clearly utter tosh. Now I know he is just a scared child, juvenile and embarrassed, desperate not to be caught out having made the most horrific mistakes. He could take a leaf out of Justin Welby’s book. Our current Archbishop of Canterbury, a man who has seen and experienced more human suffering than most, recently apologised for “getting quite a few things wrong” when he did not push harder for churches to be kept open during lockdowns. He acknowledged that we now have a national case of PTSD and sounds fully committed to getting the country back on its feet.     

Perhaps Starmer should be reminded that the purpose of the privilege of education, which he has been privy to, is not to make and hoard money, or to seek omnipotence over the human race, but to lead and inspire. Those more fortunate have a duty of care to those less fortunate. And the duty of leadership itself is to have the humility to say, “I was wrong, I made mistakes, I will do everything I can to put things right.”

Lockdowns are profoundly wrong; they are inhumane. Everyone in their right mind knows this. Nothing will ever change that fact. All our leaders need to find the courage to stop digging their destructive rabbit holes, apologise for telling lies, and find the compassion to help people heal.   

Anna Wright is a guest writer for The New Era. Note: all TNE guest posts represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of TNE.

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