This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.
NORWAY’S REASON FOR NOT RECOMMENDING FACE MASKS
In the beginning of the pandemic, the Norwegian government decided to not recommend face masks to reduce the spread of the virus.
If they had said we don’t have enough high-grade masks for everyone, and they are needed for people in the health profession, that would have made somewhat sense. (Although even lower grade masks lower the viral load, which is important.)
If they had said there isn’t enough research to show their effectiveness, that would also have made sense if it was true, but it wasn’t and isn’t. Masks either protect against infection or reduce the viral load, and that reduction can make the difference between a severe infection or a moderate or mild infection.
Instead, they said they won’t recommend it because people won’t know how to use masks properly. Even on the surface, this seems a deeply
idiotic flawed reason.
Let’s see how this looks if we apply that argument to other things in life. For instance, does it mean we shouldn’t take medicines since we can risk taking them wrong? Or that people shouldn’t drive cars because they may not operate them properly? Or that people shouldn’t use electricity since they may stick knitting needles in the electric outlet?
In all other areas of life, we use a simple solution: education. We educate people in how to do certain things. So why not do the same with mask wearing? People have learned all the other things, so why not also something as relatively simple as wearing a face mask?
I suspect the real reason was lack of preparedness and lack of high-grade face masks for health professionals. And instead of admitting their lack of preparedness, they instead gave a flawed reason. In some ways, I secretly admire people who are willing to look stupid in public, but in this case, it also puts people at unnecessary risk, and especially those already vulnerable.
At the very least, they could have recommended face masks for certain groups of people, for instance those at high risk if they should get infected, and those who – for whatever reason – are in contact with a lot of people.
WHAT CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS FEAR
What do liberals fear? And is it different from what conservatives fear?
It seems that traditional conservatives often fear too much change. They want to keep things mostly as they are because its familiar. Change requires adjustment and it comes with unintentional and unforeseen consequences. It’s good to be a bit conservative in this way.
Another thing conservatives often fear is to lose their privelege. They don’t want others to have a bite of the cake life happened to give them.
What do liberals fear? The essence may be a fear that some people and groups are seen as out-groups and their needs are not being taken care of. For this reason, they may fear bigotry, racism, intolerance, poverty, lack of education and universal healthcare, destruction of ecosystems, loss of species, and loss of opportunities for a good life for future generations.
Another difference is that conservatives tend to take care of “their” group and think others should do the same, and liberals tend to wish to take care of everyone – often including nonhumans and future generations.
Of course, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, conservatives see all of life as their in-group, and liberals can have their own out-groups. And there are different types of conservatives and liberals. But for traditional conservatives and liberals, there may be some general truth to this.
I have my own bias which I am sure colors how I see this, but I also see the value in both general orientations. In their sane and healthy forms, they are both needed and they complement each other.
JULY 31, 2020
ADOPTING THE RELIGION OF THE OPPRESSOR
I know this is a sensitive subject and I am not the right person to talk about it when it comes to other groups, but the general topic is worth addressing.
One of the effects of colonialism – apart from slavery, extraction of resources, oppression and so on – is that the oppressed took on the religion and often general worldview of the oppressor.
We see this clearly in Africa where most now are Christians, and African-Americans in North-America who also have embraced Christianity.
Historically, it makes sense. They initially took on Christianity to survive, and then their descendants took it on because it had become normal to them. And I don’t question the sincerity of their faith today.
Still, perhaps this is something to look at. Although it was a very different situation, my ancestors took on Christianity because it was more or less forced on them, sometimes even violently. So is that a reason for me to take on Christianity?
Why should I, just because it’s part of my culture and my ancestors at some point were converted, often in very questionable circumstances?
When I decided in elementary school to call myself an atheist, this was one of the reasons. Why should I take on the religion in the culture I happened to be born into? It didn’t make sense to me.
It doesn’t make sense to assume that the religion I happened to be born into should happen to be the one right one, or even the one that was the best fit for me, or the one that would make the most sense to me.
I know there are many reasons for people to take on the religion of their community. For us, as social animals, it’s often genuinely more important to fit in and belong than examining and questioning religions more throughly. It’s natural and understandable. And yet, it’s good to be honest about it.
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