Defying the virus

The world is seven months deep into the global pandemic. The little-understood virus is still out there in search of noses and mouths to enter in order to stay alive. It doesn’t care who you’re, where you live, what you do, or what you believe. It just wants you to help it stay alive. Lockdowns are gradually being relaxed, the world over; masjids and religious places, parks and gardens, markets, and shopping malls are thrown open. Though advised to stay indoors, people are strictly told to adhere to all precautionary measures while stepping out of their houses. While many millions of us do our part to starve the virus, there’s not much chance of that with so many other millions. Don’t be surprised when some maskless, face-naked, bravado yells, ‘Coronavirus isn’t real!’ And then he calls people ‘idiots’, because they wear a mask.

Masks deprive the world of physical beauty for now. They hide and cover beautiful noses, mouths, smiles, chins, cheeks, lips, nostrils, and other facial furniture. Wearing a mask is certainly uncomfortable and that too when you wear it for hours together.  As Maskholes scoff at covering their faces in public with smirking defiance, they walk maskless, talk maskless, work maskless. While others dangle them under their chins or below noses, now months into the lockdown and the mask is still not finding its place. Mask hostilities have grown rampant in restaurants, workplaces, and markets. Technically speaking, those that wear masks are humans and have heads; headless people do get away with not doing so.

Within us, perhaps there is a collective of heads that influences our lives for the worse that forces on us their logic, their reasons, and their way of life. ‘Virus-rebels’ don’t listen to logic or reason; they’re interested in propagating their views, opinions, and logic, and confuse us into following them blindly. As if in denial that the virus exists or is as bad as the media projects it, it spills into a false bravado—“I won’t get it! Look at the percentages”. The brigade of nonconformists that rebels against societal norms tend to think they’re immune to the virus & won’t get seriously ill. Public safety around Covid-19 is a political/corruption-thing to the Maskholes. With a wealth of conspiracy-stupidity, these ‘Virus-rebels’ use it as the filter through which they view the world, maybe out of panic, peer-pressure, and herd-mentality, as also the superstition and fake news. Some of them may claim those nations across the globe, and India in Kashmir, have apparently colluded to pretend that millions of people have been affected by Covid-19 and half-a-million people have died.

People that proclaim themselves as ‘teachers/preachers for the world’ care two hoots for the scientifically-proven fact that one carrier of Novel Coronavirus, who might not have obvious symptoms of being infected, can infect hundreds of others, leading to exponential spread of the disease. As one admires himself, because of his learning, he regards himself superior to others & therefore becomes careless. The religiously-bigot-physician that doesn’t believe, the virus is responsible for the spread of the Covid-19, persuades faithful into offering congregational prayers, defying masks/social-distancing. Similarly, a university professor for whom Covid-19 is overblown, something doozy, it’s “just flu”. He gets pissed-off when asked to wear a mask. The Maskhole declares it’s his constitutional right to ignore social-distancing guidelines, disinfectant wipes & hand-sanitizers.

The pervasive problems are that easily-remembered events inflate people’s probability judgments and that if no such events come to mind their judgments of likelihoods might be distorted down. As the ‘Virus-rebels’ don’t locate anyone in their knowledge to have contracted the deadly virus, the maskless-worshippers offer congregational namaz, without caring for guidelines, and then also challenge the conscientious group of persons, who control, regulate and direct their impulses. Those, who indulge in lavish gastronomic extravaganza (wazwaan) on marriage ceremonies or parties, on the other hand, may end up COVID-positive, and/or lose nears and dears. Most likely, hereafter, they’d wear masks and maintain social-distancing, regardless of the risk to their life they now actually face. Biased assessments of risk perversely influence how we prepare for and respond to crises.

Imagine the social dilemmas wherein we have a choice between doing what’s best for us and what’s best for the group which we belong to. When privately smart and publicly dumb “what-difference-can-I-alone-make “and “how-does-it-matter-if-I-alone-don’t-wear-mask” are our well-reasoned attitudes. That’s if an attitude is rational for me, it’s rational enough for everyone else, leaving everybody high and dry. The attitude of “but-everybody-else-is-doing-it” and “everybody-is-violating-social-distancing-so-why-shouldn’t-I” reflects the extent of our fatalism, our mute acceptance of circumstances, our willingness to believe in ourselves and our complete subjugation of the self, which in other words means, “nobody-tries-to-take-on-the-COVID-rogue-so-why-should-I-alone-do-it or what’s-happening-isn’t-because-of-me-so-why-should-I-intervene?”

When we don’t react to seeing people doing offensive things, violating rules and regulations and standing mute witness to the gross injustice, we tend to use our intelligence to quickly see through the fact that no matter what others do it’s better for us to squeal. Lacking self-regulation and aping a defector, instead of discouraging him, we may cooperate even when the laws aren’t strictly enforced and that too when it’s not in our interest to do so. Suffering from God-complex that our judgment alone reveals the truth, we do what we do because we’ve always done it that way, and were backed up by the respected authority.

As we believe, ‘we are smarter, more ethical, funnier, nicer, more competent, more humble’, the exaggerated confidence in our abilities and qualities, the illusion of superiority, are all underpinned by our tendency to persuade ourselves that ‘we-are-nice-and-in-control. The vain of the correctness of our opinion, our acts, our intellect or wisdom persuades us into inventing stereotypes that justify behaviour that otherwise would make us feel bad about the kind of people we’re. As all this lets us become careless, we unintentionally blind ourselves into justifying our perceptions and beliefs as being accurate, realistic, and unbiased, but regard such personal feelings on the part of others, who hold different views, as a source of bias.  If they disagree with us they aren’t seeing clearly.