After being trapped in physical and emotional bubbles for so long, the real world now seems out of reach for some
Humans are complex beasts and whenever you think you’ve worked them out they go off and dumbfound you.
Best described in the phrase by Winston Churchill – a great man for the throwaway – who came up with “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.
Actually, I’m taking a liberty there. He was referring to Stalinist Russia at the time, but the point still holds for the rest of humanity.
It’s at testing moments when humans usually display these peculiar traits and come over all odd and irrational. Or at least that is when it is most apparent to the naked eye.
Covid is proving to be a classic breeding ground. I think we’ve all found out things about ourselves, families and neighbours in the past year that we didn’t think possible.
Kindness, generosity and resilience are probably the most obvious traits we have seen in abundance. Forbearance too – because we’ve needed that in saintly quantities. But after that there are oddities to be found if you know where to look. Points where Winston’s shrewd observation becomes tellingly apposite.
I’ve observed that since the beginning of the stuttering roll-out of vaccines many people have become, strangely, more negative than positive.
Despite the fact that this curse is nearer its end than its prime, the mood generally is more sombre and fatalistic than ever among a significant cohort.
People seem fixated on every glitch and reversal rather than on the jab itself; obsess about the daily numbers of cases rather than the main prize.
These serial pessimists are quick to anger if anyone mentions that there is more than a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and are quicker to douse it.
Tell them that eight out of 10 will have been vaccinated by the end of June and they’ll fob you off. As if vaccines were simply a ruse to fool us.
It’s hard to know what to make of this, but I do get a sense that there’s more than a bit of Stockholm syndrome at play. That occurs when hostages bond with their captors as a counterintuitive attempt at survival. Rather than try to escape or even accept liberation, they find themselves attached to the very thing that enslaves them.
While most people desire their freedom desperately, some seem strangely fastened to the pandemic and can’t see beyond it.
After being trapped in their claustrophobic physical and emotional bubbles for so long the real world now seems out of reach. The old normal seems alien, challenging and even scary.
It’s understandable. A nightly diet of body counts on television, talk show hysteria and newspaper saturation seems to have led to a sort of national dysphoria. It’s easy to understand why some people have given up or given in.
But they shouldn’t. There are other Churchillian quotes that would prove inspirational in this regard but we’ve all heard them countless times already. But you get the gist.
The nice woman behind the check-out in Marks & Spencer was all sunshine and chat. We exchanged pleasantries and then Covid wove its way into the conversation in the casual way people used to blather about the weather.
When she realised I hadn’t been vaccinated yet she tilted her head a little to demonstrate her genuine concern. Gave a little sign. As if I were an ancient golden Labrador that would need to be put down soon – but not yet.
Moments like that are shattering, even if the comments that inspire them come with the best of intentions.
For the record, I’m not due the jab for ages yet. Ages.