Do Corona Protests and Counter-Demonstrations Make Sense?
Lockdown fatigue is palpable, vaccine hesitancy is a reality and kneejerk reactions result in nothing. However, times are such that common sense has gone for a toss.
There is one very good aspect to a democracy. Unlike in a dictatorship, theocracy or a regime governed by fundamentalists in a democracy people have a right to protest.
In fact protest, of the peaceful kind of course, is more often than not the best way for the citizens to show their displeasure against the policies of the government.
All around Europe in general weekend protests are the norm. Go around the city center area of any major city and chances are you will find people protesting on any given issue. In the last two years or so a majority of the protests have more or less pertained to a virus that has been conveniently named COVID19, so as not to upset the country of its origin.
There have been many common things in this period. For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) continuously intimidating the people as regards the impact of the virus and doing little to either assuage the situation or dig deep into its origin.
The virus per se has had a number of mutations, each variant having a different story of its own. We have had alpha, beta, gamma, lambda, delta, omicron…the list it seems will continue to have newer additions in the foreseeable future.
We have had the governments mulling on lockdowns, partial restrictions, vaccinations, boosters and a whole lot of other measures to contain the spread and reduce the impact of the virus.
Then there is the big pharma, that’s busy minting money in this time of crisis. It’s been two years and it is still not certain what needs to be done to put a full stop on the situation once and for all. First they forced the government of different countries to advocate double vaccination, then the came the pitch for a booster jab and now we have a few countries administering a second booster even as the efficacy of each of these remains questionable. What is certain is the fact that no vaccine, or any amount of doses, offers total protection against the virus.
Amid all these measures and countermeasures one thing has remained certain in the past 24 months. The citizens in the democratic countries have not stopped protesting. Despite of appeals that such mass gatherings can be super-spreaders there’s been no stopping.
So much so that watching the police personnel prep ahead of the protest marches week-in week-out not only makes one feel sympathetic to the cops but also get a sense of satisfaction that one didn’t choose a profession where there is always an uncertain element.
There are times these protests begin on a peaceful note only to get violent at some point. Clashes between the cops on duty and the protestors are increasing with every passing day. The protests are often considered a small minority and are alluded to the right wing faction in most countries, who instigate anti-vaxxers to stand up for their rights. However, it is also a fact that even a small number can create nuisance, case in point a few thousand asylum seekers and refugees who held an entire country to ransom at the Poland border.
There are also a section of people who demonstrate against the protestors. These counter-demonstrations are meant to encourage more and more people to get the vaccine, with the hope that it will help attain herd immunity at the earliest.
Then there are occasions when the protesters against pandemic restrictions have changed their strategy, seeking to bypass regulations by marching in small groups. The idea is to make maximum impact. But has there been any impact?
Perhaps not. One country has announced mandatory vaccination from February 2022, another is striving for a vaccine mandate and still other has now opted for the use of a vaccine pass. All these measures notwithstanding not one government has come close as regards a permanent solution to this menace.
In fact it is a catch-22 situation. Neither do the protestors understand the plight of the decision makers and the leaders nor the political leaders have been able to give the semblance of a long-term solution. Lockdown fatigue is palpable, vaccine hesitancy is a reality and kneejerk reactions result in nothing. However, times are such that common sense has gone for a toss.
What needs to be understood by both the authorities as well as the protestors is the fact that one doesn’t have to stop living life. It’s been a couple of years now, and it is not practically and economically possible to go from one restriction to another. The need of the hour is to make minor adjustments and get on with life.
Living with the virus and its many variants is the new normal, and will be the case till the virus nation comes up with another novel offering. The earlier this is understood the better.