Illustrated by Melcher Oosterman
Whether you’re shopping, going to the pub or traveling to work, there is now a real and tangible atmosphere of anger and division post lockdown so let’s explore why this maybe and what we can all do to combat it.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has literally changed everything; mentally and physically we have been bombarded with messages of fear and hope in equal measure sprinkled with a large measure of disinformation, lies and distortions. Some Governments, like New Zealand and have shone in their response to the crisis, others, like here in the U.K. and the U.S.A have struggled, and that’s putting it mildly. The reasons are varied and debatable but what is irrefutable is the public has lost faith in the ability of its elected officials to manage an emergency in the best interests of its people.
Strong polling and support for Trump and Johnson has evaporated in the face of the COVID onslaught, with ever more nationalist slogans failing to placate the masses or contain the impact. With national lockdowns lifted the feelings of
community, family unity and collective responsibility have quickly given way to fear, resentment and uncertainty. With no clear route or plan for what the new ‘normal’ will eventually look like, we have all become more and more split and segregated by the mixed messages flashed up on our screens nearly every day.
This isn’t by accident by the way, this is the net result of populist politics, because divisionism works! All the while people are arguing with each other the guys in power just need to monitor where the majority view lies and align the next days slogan with that demographic. It works for a while but is impossible to maintain because the various groups start becoming more and more splintered as the subject matter changes and the effects are felt.
Guys wearing masks are jeered or assaulted by others who think the pandemic is a hoax or exaggerated by some in the media; they point to their conspiracy theory champions like Alison Pearson at the Telegraph or Brendan O’Neill and Toby Young at Spiked who continue to weave complete bullshit into flowery prose. That’s ok because they’re allowed, we live in country that still values free speech but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to it much less fall for their divisionist crap.
To begin with masks were deemed unnecessary in the UK, despite large swathes of the rest of the world donning them; now there is legislation being rushed through to force the use of face masks in shops, takeaways and retail outlets, but not apparently offices. Anyone with a modicum of sense realised
a long time ago that the British Government are basically making up as they go along, one minute ‘following the science’ next ignoring evidence and relying on rhetoric to restart an economy in the depths of recession. The reason for this is clear, they are petrified of losing support and with it, power. They are quite prepared to risk a few thousand more deaths to get the tills ticking over before the inevitable second wave and we return to a widespread but ‘localised’ shutdown.
The mixed messages now associated with masks has been reflected in nearly every other Government response to COVID except the very simple lockdown one of ‘Stay Home’. Unsurprisingly that has been the most effective and many people are sticking to it simply because they don’t trust anything that’s been said
since. The guys who have ventured out in search of a type of ‘normal’ to cling onto, have largely been met with a very different world to the one they remember, with increased segregation, queues, controls and restrictions.
All of this has added to stress levels, feelings of uncertainty and nervousness; with recession now biting, the Brexit bonus being exposed as a very predictable mirage and Government support for Furlough and Business being withdrawn its little wonder that the vast majority of people are shitting themselves. Add to this weeks of isolation from friends and family and surprise, surprise, everyone is angry; they’re angry at themselves for feeling weak or scared, they’re angry at anyone not doing what they are doing and they’re angry at
the lack of clear direction or a plan, there are no leaders. This manifests in arguments, violence and abuse, it shows its ugly head in the streets with gangs of youths in Shoreham openly defying the police, mass brawls on Hove Lawns, flare ups in shops and road rage wherever you look. The anger isn’t made up, it’s a real and tangible result of the uncertainties of what comes next.
So what’s the answer?, how do we address this individually and collectively before it gets out of control? The answer is surprisingly simple but difficult to do alone, in fact by definition its impossible to do alone; its achieved through community and commonality, the basic feeling of belonging, or agreeing with something or someone immediately dilutes the anger, its shared and therefore
diminished. Get together with your family and friends and discuss your feelings, have a vent or write them down and do some research to see if those fears are based on fact or fiction. Be proactive in your approach to problems, don’t hide them away, whether its debt or job insecurity or mental health, confront them, discuss and find resolutions.
We launched Kula in the middle of a global pandemic while everyone was locked down but we refused to be diverted or deflated from the task in hand, we made it happen because we care about the environment, climate change, food waste, water scarcity and everything about sustainability but ultimately
we care about people and their infinite ability to respond to adversity and come back mentally and physically stronger. We have faith that the spirit and resolve that was on show during lockdown can be channelled in a way that will address the negatives but expand on the positives to produce long term change in behaviour and approach by working together on the things we agree on and plotting a path through the issues we don’t.