If you are anything like me, you’ve struggled to make sense of the times we’re living in. I’m still astounded that not too long ago, a new virus came along, and with it, bans on travelling further than five miles from home, sitting down for a picnic, and visiting other people’s homes. From the very start, it felt like an overreaction, but many seemed, bizarrely, to enjoy the enforced isolation, finding camaraderie with others who would clap for the NHS and display their allegiance to the cause by obeying the rules.
Still, nearly two years later and well after the threat of the virus itself is much better understood, there are still rules which make little sense, such as masks for Scottish schoolchildren, while restaurant goers and clubbers live life mask-free. There are people who are pointing out these inconsistencies, but on the whole people go along with the rules. Most of us are now living more freely, at least here in the U.K. (though I have some pity for the Welsh with their Covid passes, and I fear life in Scotland will become more constrained too). But we can’t take it for granted. Daily we are presented with ‘what if’ scenarios – should cases and deaths climb too high, we might be placed under house arrest again. But rather than being a universal punishment, the new measures are more targeted: this time, they’re going for the unvaccinated. If you thought Donald Trump and Brexit were emotive, divisive issues that tore families apart and made people shun their friends, then the issues surrounding vaccines are taking polarisation to a new level – and no wonder, when we’re being conditioned to view the unvaccinated as the enemy within. Personal experience and anecdotes from friends tell me this is already happening.
Take public messaging around the issue. Here is short excerpt from a speech by Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen, made last week as she announced the return of the Covid passes: “Then there is a small group which doesn’t follow the rules during a pandemic. Therefore, I say very loudly and very clearly: there is no reason not be vaccinated. One bears a big responsibility not just for oneself, but also the people one comes into contact with. You have a big responsibility for Danish society now.”
Read more: The Scapegoating of the Unvaccinated