Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors march on the streets of Sydney CBD on July 24, 2021 (Photo: STEVEN SAPHORE/AFP via Getty Images)
Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors march on the streets of Sydney CBD on July 24, 2021 (Photo: STEVEN SAPHORE/AFP via Getty Images)

SocietyJuly 27, 2021

How do we bridge an impossible divide?

Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors march on the streets of Sydney CBD on July 24, 2021 (Photo: STEVEN SAPHORE/AFP via Getty Images)
Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors march on the streets of Sydney CBD on July 24, 2021 (Photo: STEVEN SAPHORE/AFP via Getty Images)

Despairing in the wake of large anti-lockdown protests in Australia, Emily Writes searches for ways to fight the monster of ignorance and selfishness.

This post was first published on Emily Writes Weekly.

Many of us here safe and secure in Aotearoa were horrified by the anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests in Sydney and Melbourne at the weekend. Despite having whānau I’m in daily contact with in Sydney, I had no idea there was such a bubbling undercurrent of violent delusion.

I’d seen some of it on Instagram of course. We laughed and rolled our eyes at the white wellness women who insist their bodies can handle any virus while they post about taking enemas and using the time while they’re violently shitting their ring out to talk to their kids (you think that’s satire, right? It’s not. I can’t even do satire any more because reality is more unhinged than my imagination).

But surely, surely there weren’t that many of these people who are desperate to return to a time when people died at 20 from explosive diarrhoea?

Loved ones in New South Wales had told me about people losing it over being asked to put a mask on or scan in while out in public. But surely, surely these were just pockets of awful behaviour?

Then this weekend’s protests happened, leaving us in no doubt that there are thousands out there who don’t believe Covid-19 is real, and they’d rather die or let others die than listen to the science.

As they protested, Adriana Midori Takara, just 38, died in Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, 10 days after contracting Covid-19. She had no underlying health conditions.

She died with loved ones on Zoom listening to her final breaths. She was described as more than a number, a woman with hopes and dreams.

How do we build a bridge between us and them? What do you do when they believe she is a false flag, that she never existed, that she never died of Covid-19 anyway, that it was just “her time”? These are all arguments I’ve seen from them on Instagram.

How do you bridge that divide between people who don’t see her and people who do? How do you bridge that divide between people who want to protect their neighbour and those who don’t?

I like to think that even when I don’t agree with someone, I can see why they think the way that they do. But I simply can’t understand at all the thinking of the anti-vaccine, Covid isn’t real, anti-lockdown crowd. And that terrifies me.

How do you reason with people, how do you meet them in a place where you can share experiences when they’re so far away from reality that you can’t reach their planet, even with a billionaire space rocket dick?

They want to vaccinate us to kill us.

But vaccination doesn’t kill? But even if we assume it did – why would they want to kill us with vaccination? What would be the reason?

Population control!

But if it was about population control why wouldn’t they just let Covid-19 kill everyone when it’s so much easier and cheaper? Why spend billions on a vaccination campaign?

They want to take our freedom!

For what reason? Again, why? Why would any government want to collapse their capitalist system and destroy the economy? Let alone multiple governments the world over.

If you want lockdowns to end (and GOD WE ALL DO!) why would you participate in rallies and actions that increase the lockdowns? I just don’t understand at all.

I am absolutely desperate to be with my sister in Australia. I can’t even comprehend what being in a weeks-long lockdown for a third time is like. But I know that just ignoring the lockdown only extends the lockdown. I don’t know how people don’t understand that.

We need to take our power back!

But how is rolling over and letting Covid-19 kill hundreds of thousands of your neighbours and leaving hundreds of thousands more with debilitating symptoms that carry on for years taking your power back? What is your power if you can’t use it? What does it give you?

What is your power for? If its only use is to hurt others, to put lives at risk, is it power? Don’t make me quote Spider-Man here.

This is a great awakening! Some will die but we will be free.

So it is about death for you. You’re just confident the death won’t be yours or your family’s. I think that in Australia and Aotearoa, because we haven’t seen mass death from Covid-19 on the scale of India or the United States, we just can’t comprehend it. And thank God. I can’t imagine that level of trauma. But it also means many of these anti-vaxxers don’t know what it looks like to lose so many, many lives – too many to process. They imagine only a world where the bodies have been neatly put out of sight. The Byron Bay anal bleaching party is back on. Yoga at 2pm. Manifest abundance, babe.

Truly, where do you go from here?

How do you find common ground when they’re living on an alternate Earth where facts don’t matter?

What is the answer?

I absolutely despair at how we got here. And I have no idea what happens next. How do we make it better? Is it even possible?

Last night I cried in frustration. I want to hold my family, I want to be with them. My heart breaks for those in isolation, those struggling so much to make ends meet, those living in fear of the future.

But having been an out-there pro-vaxxer since my son was born – because keeping him alive isn’t a choice I make, it’s my life – I feel like I know a thing or two about them.

And this is what I know:

It might seem like there are so many of them.

They’re loud and they’re cruel.

But there are more people out there who care about others. Who love others. Who have empathy that extends beyond their doorstep.

We cannot be louder than them. We definitely cannot be crueller than them, nor would we want to be.

But we can keep showing up. We can keep standing up. We can keep modelling community to our tamariki. We can show that there’s more love, more compassion, more empathy, more courage out there than there is ignorance and ableism. Courage to not sit on the fence and look down on those below who are devastated and desperate and decide to ignore them. Courage to stand up to bullies whose selfish actions might sell essential oils and seminars on being “authentic” but put many lives at risk.

Our kids are watching. And they will see us standing together and saying: “It’s true that we don’t understand you. It’s true that we don’t know how to bridge this divide. But we will protect and care for our neighbours no matter what.”

Almost two years ago I watched my son as he lay unconscious in the emergency room. I wrote about the monsters you face when you’re the mother of a child in hospital. I wrote about the horror, the terrible soundtrack of a children’s ward.

And I wrote about how love gives us hope:

If there was a soundtrack to this it’d be a wedding march.

All the love and expectation, the hope and the commitment to something greater than this.

A community rallying, a standing ovation for all of the little children. A cry of encouragement for the parents who will somehow rise up to the challenge. Because they just do. This isn’t a horror, this isn’t tragedy. It’s a love story.

Look at this team. Protect the heart. Protect the child.

We can fight the monster of ignorance and selfishness, of fear and loathing, of greed and cruelty. We can fight the monster.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox