Just following orders

When I started this blog, back in 2019, my plan was to write about a variety of subjects and express, what I hoped to be, thought-provoking opinions. It was never my intention to focus on a single issue. The pandemic, however, interrupted my attempt at exposing the world’s truths and life’s meaning. I also never thought that I would witness the collapse of human dignity, compassion and consciousness. I didn’t dare to think that I’d see our basic freedoms arrested and our fundamental rights crushed, and our very nature denied to us and debunked, our humanity ripped from our mother’s arms. But here we are – year 2021. It’s beginning to look a lot like Nineteen eighty-four.

part 1

The ordinary world

Six O Four

Malbork, Poland, 2002. 
I am fifteen. It’s a warm Summer afternoon. My friends and I have just been playing football and we are now hanging out at our favourite spot – the bench under the rowan tree by the road leading to our estate. As we sit here, minding our business and causing no trouble, a police van pulls over and two bulky, bald police officers step out. They can’t be a lot older than us. Early 20s, I think. They come up to us and start asking questions. They demand that we give them our details, starting with our full name, date and place of birth, and full names of our parents. They look like they’re enjoying themselves. They talk to us like we’re guilty of some crime they’re investigating, but we haven’t done anything wrong.    
In fact, we are just a bunch of losers and everyone knows this. Girls want nothing to do with us, cool kids don’t want to shake our hands in school and to top it off, there is this one guy, probably around the age of Bulk and Skull over here, who always kicks our ball away when it ends up anywhere near him and his friends – the real troublemakers of our estate. They smoke and do drugs, while all we want to do is play football and sit on a bench looking at nice cars and girls who are out of our league.
One of the cops orders me to take my hands out of my pockets. I know it’s disrespectful, but he hasn’t earned my respect. It is clear that they are trying to intimidate us. They must hold some kind of grudge against guys like us or perhaps they used to be bullies themselves and they’ve never grown out of it. Proud of themselves, they now get back into their van and drive off. We take a note of the number, it’s 604.
It happens a few more times this Summer. It’s always the same scenario and the same oversized idiots with shaved heads, trying to teach us respect through intimidation. We’re never guilty of anything, but just in case, whenever we see a police van approaching and whenever we see the number 604 on the side of it, we try to move along to avoid another humiliating encounter with the law. By the time we see the number, however, it is usually too late.

March 2021

It’s my fifteenth year in the UK. My experience with the British police has been drastically different. Not only that, but I’ve also never felt threatened or intimidated by a police officer. This has been the case until lockdowns began twelve months ago. Sometime in April of last year, my respect and admiration for the British uniform started to fade.

Great Britain – the country that gave us democracy, the country that many Eastern Europeans like me escaped to in search of a better tomorrow – had begun to turn into the authoritarian regime and police state many of us ran away from. I know, as a foreigner, I should probably not speak negatively of the country I’ve settled in, but whatever was once Great about Britain, has died of COVID, I think. And I mean this about the police who forgot their oath, government officials who seem to have turned into tyrants who do things to us instead of for us anymore and think we are their property, as well as people of Britain, who have exposed their true nature of spineless cowards who play dead on the battlefield.

*

I sat on a bench today, just outside the library and the Town Hall which has been turned into COVID19 vaccination centre. I sat there for about an hour waiting for my wife and our three-month-old son to finish at the doctor’s. He was having his blood taken as part of the ongoing investigation into his hearing loss. I’ve attended a couple of initial appointments when we were given the diagnose and crucial information. Then, both because of their One Parent Because of COVID19 policy and my lack of challenging it when the appointments were no longer scary but routine, I just waited outside or took a walk.

Today, I decided to sit on the bench instead of waiting outside. I felt like such an outlaw. For the past few months, doing such a thing has been unthinkable. Sitting on a bench has been viewed as a dangerous crime and health hazard. I sat there and listened to Edward Snowden’s Permanent Record on Audible. As I listened to Snowden’s confession what led him to expose the US government’s betrayal of their citizens, I was looking at groups of college kids laughing, talking, hugging and chatting, eating takeaways as they walked to town or back to college. If it weren’t for the fact that the majority of them wore masks, I’d have thought it was just an ordinary day in an ordinary world where COVID19 never existed.

I used to sit on this particular bench a lot when I first came to the UK fifteen years ago. I would look at the people, couples holding hands, young guys and girls getting out of taxis and refusing to wear coats (presumably to avoid leaving them behind in the nightclub), runners, guys with gym bags drinking protein shakes, you know, all these ordinary things happening every day in the ordinary world. A world where I, sitting on that bench, could afford to struggle with my own identity as I measured the behaviour of the herd. I could afford to sit there as long as it took me to collect my thoughts, write poetry and dream. Back in the ordinary world.  Back when I had my whole life ahead of me and I took it for granted. Back when I could sit there until my skin shivered or until I found the missing piece of the puzzle. What burden was I carrying? What mystery of my mind was I trying to solve? How unaware was I of what was being plotted behind the scenes? How blind was I to the strings attached to all of our shoulders? Perhaps, as I sat there unaware, ignorant and small, handshakes were being exchanged, signatures given, funds transferred, things arranged, alibi prepared, consent manufactured – all to one day take away every dream I had dreamt on that bench, crush every plan I had thought of, dispose of everything I had held dear and precious.

Today, I don’t have that luxury, that freedom. Doing such an ordinary thing belongs in the past. “The rules” say so. As I sat there, a lone police officer emerged from the underground passage. When I saw him, I had a familiar feeling. The feeling a man only gets to feel a few times in his lifetime. When he sees the love of his life, the most beautiful woman, object of his love songs and poetry walk in the room and he has to tell her how he feels. And when his great nemesis or his army charge at him and he has to fight. It’s about fear and conquering that fear. It’s a quick, sharp excitement and anxiety in his chest that make him focused yet paralysed, ready to fight and ready to hide.

That’s what I felt that moment I laid my eyes on the policeman. The sharp feeling in my chest was gone before I knew it, yet it expressed so many things all at once. ‘Is this the time I get confronted?’, it asked, exposing my lack or preparedness for the confrontation I had been anticipating and rehearsing for months. More importantly, it reminded me of the time I last felt it about the police. That summer I was harassed by 604’s Bulk and Skull. It also made me realise that as a thirty – four-year-old father, husband, legally employed and a law-abiding citizen I should never feel this about the police. After all, they are not my enemy and I’m not guilty of anything. My body should not turn on and prepare to flee or confront them. But because of how many of them have behaved over the last year, I now feel like a fugitive, who must always be ready to run, resist and sees them not as public servants, but as the enemy. Enemy of human nature, freedom and dignity.

Luckily, the cop wasn’t interested in my suspicious activity. It was just me and Edward again.

The lift

Malbork, Poland, 2002.
Finally, they get what they wanted. They’ve created a monster.
My friend, Adrian, isn’t a member of our group, but he hangs out with us occasionally. Part of the reason is that he lives in a tower block in a different part of town, and he prefers homework than sitting on a bench. Not all of us have mobile phones, so there are only two ways for us to all get together. We either specify time and place of assembly when at school or we pick everyone one by one by calling at their address until everyone is accounted for. Since Adrian goes to a different school and lives so far for us to get him, we simply don’t bother most of the time. When we do, however, we make his neighbours’ life a living hell. 
The lifts in those buildings are old, nothing like you might be imagining. The doors aren’t automatic. You have to pull or push them to open. Once the floor number is pressed and the door shut, you’re on your way.  Our favourite thing to do is getting in the lift on the ground floor, pressing the button and holding the door slightly open for the next person who walks into the building. It’s often someone old. We stand there, holding the door, showing we’re waiting for them. We never hold the door wide open. Instead, we leave the smallest gap and that’s crucial to our prank. They always look very grateful as they show their appreciation and perform their mini jog to get in the lift with us. At the last second, when they are about to grab the handle on the other side, we release the door and watch their gratitude turn into disappointment as we fill the inside of the lift with mocking, knee - slapping laughter. We’ve done it countless times, but today, we’ve done it to the wrong man.
He’s just chased us out of the building and as we’re in a safe distance, I extend my right arm and show him the middle finger. We are still laughing at the look on his face when his hope to get in the lift turned into embarrassment, when he appears out of nowhere and grabs me by the arm. Huffing and puffing from under his thick, unkept moustache, he looks particularly angry with me for giving him the finger. He’s not even mad about the lift thing. It’s the middle finger that bothers him. My friends abandon me, accepting that I have taken it too far and am now on my own.
‘Where do you live?’, he asks. 
‘Just around the corner’, I lie, thinking he will let me go. Instead, he squeezes my arm tighter and demands I take him to my parents. ‘I’m lying, I don’t live around here’, again thinking he lets me go.
I try to release myself, but my teenage strength is no match for his manly grip. His friend approaches on his bike and together they come to the conclusion that it’s best to call the police. I tell them both to fuck off, which gives the friend the permission to suggest that they “rough me up a little” before cops arrive. He does nothing. I struggle, but his hand doesn’t let go. The old man must be producing his whole strength from his front porch, I think. The police arrive and Moustache releases his sausage fingers from my arm. His grip made my coat all wrinkly. He lies to the officers, saying I “threatened him with violence”. The friend nods and confirms. I can’t see my face, but I feel angry and as I make my way to the back of the car, I call him a fucking liar and demand my version to be heard. They don’t wanna to know.
It’s a short ride home in the backseat. What crime have I committed that I am being taken home for it? We drive past the rowan tree bench and it’s occupied by my friends who were quick to abandon me. Few minutes later I am being dragged upstairs and for the first time in the last half an hour, I feel anxious. I didn’t care about Moustache and his fat, sweaty hand. Not even about his courageous friend who threatened to beat me up. Hell, I didn’t even care about them calling the police. It is my mom who I am really afraid of. The police do the talking, I am just silent and embarrassed.

Just follow the rules

You can’t torture an animal forever without it lashing out

Jordan Peterson

If you are reading this, I’m sure I don’t have to explain in great detail what my feelings toward the police are based on. I suspect, what brought you here is the same resentment I feel after having watched hours of social media clips of police abusing their power, enforcing COVID rules. If you’re like me, these videos make you feel sick, angry and upset. They wake within you the unfamiliar rage and fury you had no idea you were capable of feeling. Maybe it even frightens you what you might do if these feelings are left unchecked. You imagine yourself punching, kicking and spitting your way out of the unlawful arrest while simultaneously knowing this would never end well for you. But it helps, doesn’t it? It feels so good seeing your fists land on their faces, making their surgical masks turn red. It feels good visualising, even for a minute, defeating the bad guys, serving justice and coming out as the hero. I know it works for me. It silences this desperation burning within me as I see people being tackled to the ground in their own homes for the crime of having dinner with their family. If you’re anything like me, this sense of injustice overwhelms you because you know these bastards get away with it every time and only their consciousness will ever be their judge and their executioner.

A few weeks ago, the government requested every concerned citizen to express in their own words the negative effects lockdown had on various aspects of their life, including mental health. I don’t know what I was hoping it would achieve, but I decided to submit my evidence, in which I say:

I imagine myself being dragged into a van after attending a protest in the near future. Then put in a cell and the rage, I am not supposed to feel as a father, returns. I shouldn’t feel like this. These emotions have come out of nowhere. In the first lockdown, I was fine. I was reading a lot, I was outside a lot. Now I feel like a ticking time bomb. These negative emotions – anger mixed with desperation, anxiety, heartbreak, rejection, bitterness – they don’t even have an outlet…

I described myself as a ticking timebomb. Probably not the wisest choice of words in a letter to the government, but I didn’t care. Perhaps I even wanted them to come for me. Take me into a room and play good cop and bad cop, asking me what I meant, who I worked for. What did I mean? This next fragment explains it well:

I should be the happiest I’ve ever been, but recently, I find myself feeling emotions I’ve never felt before. I feel anger, resentment and hopelessness. I feel powerless and desperate to the point where I want to cry or break something and who knows what I will do if I’m caught off guard? These negative feelings aren’t directed at my family. But this anger turns into rage within me, and I never knew it was there. This desperation I feel inside makes me so depressed sometimes and I feel I have no control over what happens to my life

The only time I ever feel anything close to how I’ve felt for the last few months is whenever I see a movie where the character is being kept hostage, tortured, isolated and made do things against his will by his tyrannical captors. When I see the scenes of this injustice, I boil inside, crave revenge and imagine what I would do to them if I managed to set myself free. In my mind, I do unspeakable things.

I see the same injustice when I watch a video of police attacking protesters, mothers with children, friends having coffee together and families in their homes. People often say that to avoid being fined or arrested, all we have to do is just “follow the rules”. Just follow the rules, they say. Never mind that the rules intrude and trespass on our rights, ruin our freedoms, criminalise choice and oppress people’s needs and interests. These cowards who welcome this invasion with open arms often defend their submission by pointing out various laws that they claim already take away our freedom. Their best example is usually something to do with speed limits (because of course, given the freedom to do so, everyone wants to drive like a maniac).

These people don’t understand the meaning of personal rights, where they come from and why no other person, no matter their position, can take these rights away. They don’t understand the concept of personal responsibility and that they themselves are the only ones who they should rely on to stay safe, not just from COVID19, but from any threat.

Another thing they love to say, especially to me since I am a foreigner, is something along the lines of, “go back to Poland, if you don’t like the rules of this country”. This easily translates to: if you want your freedom; if you don’t want to live in an authoritarian regime; if you don’t agree that police should have such powers; if you want to have rights then go to a country that provides them. They love to ridicule and belittle you for valuing freedom over safety and individual rights over collective duty. “Grow up!”, they often tell me. As if holding these values is immature and childlike, while theirs are morally superior and wise.

“Without rules there is only chaos”, they also say, which of course is a fallacy. It implies that people would just go crazy if the rules weren’t written down. But laws, at least the criminal laws, exist mainly to discourage and punish criminals. Most people are not criminals. Laws might be printed by man, but man’s morality is the ink. Most people not only recognise that murder is wrong but are unable to even picture themselves killing anyone. The law against murder, then, exists to discourage and punish the very few who are able to commit such an act. These men, who are a small fraction of the population, who don’t share the morals of the rest of us, who don’t value another man’s life, who aren’t scared of pulling the trigger are the reason why laws are written down. I would argue even in absence of certain laws, most people would have no desire to murder, rob and rape. Most men, as an example, find the idea of rape repulsive (widely available porn only confirms that) and that’s why they don’t do it, not because they are afraid of getting caught.

Most people simply want to live and let live without causing any harm to another person and his property. Other laws exist merely as reminders how to live in the community, guidance for businesses and protection of individual rights. Furthermore, laws and morality don’t always go hand in hand. For example, in some countries, prostitution is illegal, but it’s not immoral. Lying to your friend or cheating in your relationship are immoral, but they are not illegal. Not paying your debt is not a criminal offence, but it may be considered immoral. I would argue that forbidding lovers see each other for months on end is immoral and criminalising it is unlawful. Yet here we are.

It’s also interesting to see how many people simply needed new rules to be written down to completely abandon their empathy for another person. They just needed a rule to exist to see a normal, harmless activity as a crime for which someone should be put to death. They turn into totalitarian boot lickers happy to snitch on their neighbours for having guests for dinner. This tells a lot about people in this country.

a few bad apples

Just as people needed new policies and rules to turn on their neighbours and fellow citizens, to a number of police officers they were simply an excuse to become tyrants they always had been. Perhaps the surgical mask they now have to wear provides them with anonymity they needed to disconnect from their actions towards other men and women.

They may be in a small minority, but it doesn’t change the fact that the rest of them just follow along and turn the other way. That small minority is enough for there to be hundreds of videos exposing their abuse of power during lockdown. It has been happening here in the UK and all over the Western World. In Australia, a woman was arrested in her own home, in front of her children for organising a protest on Facebook. Another man had his front door kicked in for the same reason. A video from Poland shows officers tackling a man to the ground for refusing to wear a mask and threatening his friend with a gun for attempting to intervene. Just the other day, I saw a footage from a grocery store in Netherlands, where the security man not only attempts to forcibly remove an unmasked shopper from the store but gets assistance from a man wearing a mask like a good boy. There are many more examples, way too many to list them here. In Germany, the country that should know better, the police are seen using water to disperse the crowd of protesters. Not only that, but their government also introduced the concept of quarantine camps – places for people who refuse to self–isolate after testing positive or returning from abroad. Funnily enough, a number of people in the UK fully support the idea and think it doesn’t go far enough. They think people like me should be put in prison.

What really makes these people betray their integrity and commitment to others? Is it the moral superiority of doing the right thing? What about the men in uniform? What triggers in them the brainless, unconscious and detached android mode, incapable of own thought, compassion and reasoning?

You know, I’ve been writing this for a few weeks now and I feel like I still have a long way to go. It seems like every week there is another story in the press, another video on Twitter, showing police officers intruding people’s lives and disturbing their peace. There was a video a while ago, in the Midlands I believe. A man got called an idiot by the officer and thrown in the back of the police car. The reason? The cop didn’t believe the man’s trip was essential. He didn’t believe him when he said he lived around there so he arrested him in a very disrespectful manner. If the man were a suspect of a crime, it would have been a different story, but he was only stopped, grabbed and harassed for the officer’s assumptions and misunderstanding of the law and his powers. This is not the only video I’ve seen where the police officer acts disrespectfully, threatening and patronising towards a member of the public who is just going about their daily life. And this is the crucial part – going about your business is not a crime, no matter how they put it. If you’re exercising your freedoms (in this case, the freedom of movement) and there is a law that forbids it, it is an unjust law, and your duty is to break it and resist those who come after you to enforce it. As Nelson Mandela famously said:

When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.

Nelson Mandela

In other words, if the government tells a man he can’t see his loved ones, can’t start a relationship, sit in the field and listen to the voice of nature he has no other option but to defy the government for they have no business telling him how to live his private life. And I don’t buy that “what you do is affecting others because you’re spreading the virus” nonsense. Everyone is responsible for their own destiny. We are all independent human beings and need to take responsibility for our life and ownership of our choices. We don’t exist to ensure others never fall ill, go hungry or homeless. We don’t exist so others can live. We aren’t on this planet to fulfil other people’s needs. That is at the heart of freedom – it gives each individual the right and more importantly, the power to take necessary steps to protect himself from harm, because he can’t control others. In freedom, everyone gets to make choices to live the best, happiest and healthiest life available to them. The moment you let go of that freedom, hand it over to the state, who then believe they have to take everyone’s freedoms for their safety, you end up with no responsibility for yourself and no ownership of your life. Your safety and your health, your very survival depend on what others do or don’t do. What if, one day, people simply choose not to follow the rules anymore? You will have no choice but to rely on yourself. You must understand that you wash your hands for yourself. Imagine, if you lived your life always counting on others washing theirs and relying on them doing it properly.

And now we have muzzled police turned against the public. They patrol our streets, they “hide in the shadows” and sneak up on us in parks like we’re all criminals. They stalk us, flying drones over our heads if we dare to take too long of a walk. They demand we tell them where we are going and why. They are rude, dishonest and brutal.

Part 2

The grip never relaxes

People cringe when I use the word tyranny to describe our current situation. They hear the word regime and imagine Germany in 1943, when Nazism was already well established. They never think to look beyond the dates they know from history books. They forget that tyranny comes about gradually and introduces itself in small, careful steps. The tyrant pushes the people to their limit or very close to their limit. He lets them settle, get used to the “new normal” and then pushes them further, lets them settle again and repeats.

Similarly, when you look back at the past year, you’ll see that the restrictions have been piling up on top of each other and we never, even after the first lockdown, went back to the pre – lockdown state. The government claimed almost full control of our lives and gave back very little of it. Then did it again and again, giving us back just scraps of the life we used to know. This is in essence how tyrants rise. They rise from the ashes of our humanity and they thrive in the flames of our desperation, fear and blind obedience. They take and very rarely give back.

We’ve created a system which pushes us further into becoming passive spectators and not active participants in social affairs and one that creates an illusion of having control of our lives. We have done it without asking questions, without looking back and without resisting. In this system, we aren’t taught how to lead, but how to follow. We have become a nation of sheep who are convinced they need a shepherd; we have convinced ourselves that we can’t make rational decisions for ourselves; we trust neither ourselves nor other individuals in the herd but will follow the majority led by the shepherd into our doom and slaughter.

Boris Johnson and his fellowship of the virus, put us in lockdown in March last year, taking almost full control of our lives, making them masters of our daily rituals and activities. They served us with a strict list of things we were and weren’t allowed to do. They pushed us to our limit by taking from us as much as they could. They then returned some of our freedoms, but their boot remained in the door. We were allowed to go back to work, but still lived very limited and restricted lives.

They then intimidated, threatened and coerced people into cancelling their Christmas plans. They trapped students in their student accommodations, miles away from home, set up police checkpoints outside towns on Christmas Eve to make sure people weren’t seeing their families. They terrorized our minds, intimidated us with bullies hoping we would not find a way and strength to nourish our relationships and do what we felt was right anyway. And many of us did.

The tyrant, very much like Mr. Unkept Moustache who captured me all these years ago, once he grabs you, never relaxes his grip.

We have the luxury now, to go back in time, browse through history, listen to the testimony of the survivor reliving her horrors and we can look the tyrant in the eyes. We can witness him rise from the ashes of people’s defeated courage and thrive in their desperation. We can follow his steps from his first day as the ruler to the brutal end. We swear we would have done something, that we would have refused, rebelled and stopped him. We are baffled why nobody did. Today, as we find ourselves in the midst of tyranny, we welcome the tyrant and baffle future historians with our inaction.

Run, fat boy, run!

Malbork, Poland, 2004
A knock on the door wakes me up. I roll over on my mattress, which is all I have to sleep on, and check the time. It’s just gone seven o’clock. I don’t need to be up for another hour to go to school. After last night, however, I am surprised I even slept at all, to be honest. Times like these I wish I had a mobile phone to check on my mates and see if they’re alright. See if they all got away too.
My mom gets the door. I can hear a man’s voice, but I don’t recognise it. It could be a neighbour or a postman, I don’t know. We’ve just moved here. Is it possible, though? Could it be…?
I can hear my mom’s footsteps. They’re fast, they’re angry and loud. She storms into my room and kicks my mattress, sending my pillow across the room.
‘The police are here for you! Get up! Get the fuck up and get dressed right now!’, she screams through her tears.
I pretend I have no idea what this is all about, but it’s a lie. The promise I made to her last time I was brought home by the cops is broken. I swore that was the last time. 
I am taken back to that evening we were chased by the police outside the church and I almost got away. Almost. The cop caught up with me outside the kindergarten.
‘Wait here while I run after your friend’, he said. Of course I didn’t wait. I’m not stupid.
I ran. I ran only to be caught again by the other cop. Next thing I know, the one who caught me first is dragging Andrew by his collar, which kind of made me – the fat one of the group – feel better cause he is the group’s athlete.
‘I thought I told you to wait there!’, he looked at me with disbelief and anger as I shrugged my shoulders and looked at him amazed that he really thought I was just going to wait there for him. What an idiot.
This was months ago now and we weren't even doing anything wrong. We were just fooling around and ran when we saw them. But for her it is still a fresh wound, a broken promise.
‘Hurry up!’, she brings me right back to the present and says I have five minutes to get ready. The men are waiting and will drive me to the station. I’m only seventeen, what’s the worst that can happen? Oh who am I kidding? I am shitting myself.

Seventeen years later, I expect a knock on the door and prepare for it to be kicked in. The amount of times I tweeted at Metropolitan Police calling them fascists and pathetic is more than I can remember. In the country where people get charged for things they say online, for offending others, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens one day. Who will be the men at my door? Just some good men, men who joined the force to protect the innocent, defend our rights? Maybe. Or maybe it will be one or two tyrants who love their newfound powers? Or maybe it will just be some ordinary officers who are just following orders, right? Just doing their job. Just taking me away from my family for having an opinion or for spreading misinformation. Have you seen V for Vendetta? Asking for a friend…

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Unmasking COVID19 Logic

Who would have thought that a piece of cloth would cause so much controversy? Who would have thought it would divide us just like the Brexit vote did? And yet, here we are. The Facemask. It’s on everybody’s mouth right now. Literally and figuratively. Some people oppose the facemasks being mandatory in public settings, some claim they don’t mind it. Which camp are you in? Me, personally, I don’t wear them, haven’t worn them, and don’t plan to. I don’t believe I can convince anyone not to wear them, so I am not going to try, at least not in this article. Today, I will just attempt to deconstruct some of the most common arguments, statements, accusations, choices, beliefs, and claims, and more made by mask wearers or mask supporters. These come largely from Twitter, so in no way am I trying to paint everyone with the same brush. I know Twitter brings the worst of us and in no way represents the entire group of people, in this case mask wearers, Karens, whatever you want to call them. Some of the things I mention are my personal observations in my daily life, so again, I only interact with a small sample of the population so the conclusions, whatever they may be, are drawn from this small sample, and they are all my reflections. This is why I will try to stay away from scientific research on whether facemasks work, how they work, and who should wear them. I may include some links at the bottom. I should say this though – not all doctors and scientists agree that facemasks work or should be worn by the healthy individuals, so let’s stop pretending that they do. And now on with the Facemask Logic.

Facemasks and other measures explained

  1. The mandatory facemasks in shops. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But which beginning? Beginning of mandatory masks, or all non – essential shops reopening? Because the former happened nearly two months later. For two months people had a choice and could make their own judgement whether or not to wear a mask. Nobody judged those who chose not to wear it. Nobody called them “conspiracy theorists” or “anti – maskers”. Not until 24th July. Then, just because the government had pulled this rule out of their ass, if you opted out of covering your face, you became a fugitive, a criminal, a serial killer and a sociopath. Even though a day earlier, you could walk into the same places and you would have been greeted and all your needs would have been met. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Is it about the health, or is it about obeying the rule? What really makes one a bad person? Seems like disobedience is the answer. Nobody likes the rule breakers who get away with it.
  • The baggy mask. This is something I see all the time. That baggy, moist, blue cloth flopping around on your face. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re really not, darling. Assuming that your facemasks is supposed to prevent you from spreading this deadly disease, how exactly is this baggy parachute, you call face covering, supposed to stop anything?
  • The mask on the chin. This comes in many forms. The chin is definitely the second, after the face, most common body part people wear their masks on. I get it. It’s a drag. You hate it, but you must obey the rules. You’re in and out of shops, so you pull it down when you can, and put it back on as soon as you step into Poundland. Not to mention pulling your mask down to unlock your phone using face recognition. You probably touch many things in between. Your face becomes itchy, so, instinctively, you give it a little scratch. The constant touching of your face and your mask creates more problems than it solves. To protect yourself from the harmful side effects of wearing it throughout the day, you’d have to change masks every time you touch it after your hands have touched an item in the shop or a door handle. Something tells me many people don’t do it and they just use the same mask. Later they either put it in their pocket, as my friend told me he does, for later use (I don’t even want to know what collects on it from loose change, sweat or hands).
  • The Mask graveyard. The street is where many masks reach the end of their road. They die slow and miserable death. First they get flattened, almost like that legendary curve. Then the blue fades and they die. You’d think that such dangerous items should be disposed of more carefully. Instead, apparently they can just be binned, if they’re lucky. Some get picked up by birds. Others tangled around their legs, or necks. Whatever the way, the fate is the same – death. They served their purpose – they saved humanity.
Some end up in the sea
  • The Seatbelt. “So, you refuse to wear a seatbelt as well?” People use this argument thinking it will win them the argument. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard it. Those who use it fail to see their own fallacy. First they will try to convince you that facemask protects others from you, then they compare it to a seatbelt. Seatbelt protects the wearer. While we’re on the subject of seatbelts, I must mention another common disagreement I often have with people. I strongly believe that we are, or at least we should be, responsible for ourselves, not for each other. At least not constantly. I think our priority should be our health and safety and that of our loved ones. It is your job to look after yourself, not mine. To illustrate what I mean, let’s use the seatbelt analogy. As a driver, I am responsible for my passengers. I make sure everyone has a seatbelt on. It is not my problem if people in other cars are wearing their seatbelts. They make their own choices, however bad they are. I obey the traffic rules, but they are there to prevent accidents, not just potential accidents. There are no exemptions. There is no conflicting science about the traffic rules. They are there because all drivers must know and agree on them when driving at high speed. Let me give you a better argument. Sufficient sleep can be better used to argue for the use of masks to protect others. Insufficient sleep is the leading cause of driving accidents. If you routinely sleep less than six or even seven hours, you increase the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel and causing an accident. To protect others, you should only drive if you’ve been sleeping enough.
  • The Titanic. Someone shared this meme on Facebook. It attempts to ridicule “conspiracy theorists” in a similar way as the above nonsense. I want to focus on a couple of points here. The “Nobody can force me to wear a lifejacket” is just another version of the above argument. Lifejackets save the life of the wearer, not the others who are drowning. Also, we can’t really be comparing the sinking of the Titanic to our current situation. Just think about it. You’re on board and even if you’re on the “dry” bit, you can’t deny that the ship is sinking. It is happening. The disaster is unfolding right in front of your eyes. It is inevitable. You don’t need to see data, statistics or evidence of it. You don’t ask for a second opinion. With things like mask wearing, lockdowns and various other restrictions, you can and should be asking questions. There are many discrepancies in the official COVID19 narrative and calling those who point them out “conspiracy theorists” is simply not good enough of an argument. People on the Titanic had no reason to doubt the reality and seriousness of the situation. There were no “sinking deniers”. Coronavirus data, on the other hand, is conflicting, and many people wonder if we aren’t simply overreacting. And many of us have lost and sacrificed a lot blindly trusting the government and listening to the so-called experts.
  • “You wear clothes, don’t you?”. Before he blocked me, one Twitter user tried to persuade me with another weak argument. He argued that I disobey the mask rule, while happily complying with the rules concerning wearing clothes. As in covering my naked body with clothes. This is actually one of my favourite stupid argument because it reaches into areas I find interesting and fascinating – anthropology, biology, history, evolution and psychology. I am in no way an authority on any of these, but I’ve read enough to know that we don’t wear clothes simply because of some rules imposed on us by society or authorities. What we wear, of course is influenced by where we live, how old we are, what is available to us, and if we’re trying to advertise our personality with our clothes. Why we wear clothes is a different matter. Protection is the main if not the only reason for covering our bodies. We have to remember that modern humans emerged around 100 000 years ago, but human evolution that led up to it happened over millions of years. Most of this time was evolutionarily uneventful, however some tools were invented. Humans lived in small tribes and moved around a lot. As we left Africa, we had to protect ourselves from new and often challenging weather conditions. Predators and parasites, mosquitoes were also a threat. I am not saying we covered our bodies head to toe, and I am not saying that whatever we used was effective either. Another reason for wearing clothes as protection is our upright posture. It exposes our most vulnerable and essential body parts and organs to potential threats whether it’s from the predators, infection or other humans. On the outside we have our reproductive organs which are essential and female breasts for feeding the offspring. All other mammals have their backs to provide hard and wide cover for the internal and external body parts. We needed to find another way as our upright posture open a whole new world of possibilities. Shame and embarrassment were probably introduced by our brain to reinforce this new habit of covering up the vulnerable body parts. They are still with us today. If wearing clothes was just some rule written down in a book somewhere, then we wouldn’t feel embarrassed about being seen naked or exposed. But we do, which shows that covering up is rooted in our psychology and is governed by subconscious rules rather than societal policies, and it had to evolve over tens of thousands of years, if not millions. And what was once used as means to protect our bodies from climate and predators led to men wearing skinny jeans and women exposing their most attractive parts and covering those unappealing. But this is something for another time – what we do to attract the opposite sex.

  • The Coronavirus doesn’t go to the gym . Turns out she doesn’t like pubs either. The experts in the government seem to have made the masks mandatory in certain places, but not others. Apparently the masks aren’t mandatory where they are inconvenient. Of course, in a pub or restaurant you eat and drink, so a facemask can be very inconvenient. But, if you take into consideration that we are meant to be in the middle of the worst pandemic known to mankind, you’d think inconvenience is a small price to pay to keep everyone safe. However, recently Boris and his advisors must have read my mind because they have now made facemasks mandatory in those places too. You are now very likely to spread the virus when waiting to be seated, walking to the toilet, but not when seated. Same thing with gyms. COVID19 will apparently not target you when you’re squatting or bench pressing. You can go mask free and enjoy your workout. Having said that, The Pure Gym have apparently made their members wear masks between each set and each exercise. Huffing and puffing in front of a dumbbell rack is ok, but when you’re done, please keep everyone safe, and #WearTheDamnMask

  • “Go back to your country if you’re not happy”. I wasn’t going to include this one, but I have since heard it so many times that it just begs to be addressed. Usually someone on Twitter, without having much to say to defend their argument, would look at my Twitter bio and think they found a way to shut me up for good. “Go back to your country, if you don’t like censorship, dictatorship, suppression of freedom of speech and assembly” was the most recent response I got when I defended people’s right to gather and protest what they think are injustices, which include coronavirus measures taken by the government. These people, don’t for a minute, stop and think that they, or their children will be next. They seem to see nothing wrong with the government arresting people for speaking out. But the very reason why this argument is a fallacy is because it is personalised to me. To win an argument or debate, one must address opposing arguments, not who they are coming from. My views are shared by thousands of Brits who can’t “go back to their own country”. What will you say to them?

  • Asian people wear masks all the time. They do. They do because of pollution which affects them more than it affects us. Also, if they are wearing masks, then how did coronavirus ever manage to escape China and travel the world as quickly as it did? I mean you see Asians wear their masks in London too, so it’s not like they stop when they leave Beijing. Another interesting fact is that Chinese people get seasonal flu just like the rest of us despite the growing mask culture. We also can’t neglect the psychological effects constant mask wearing poses, not to mention long term medical problems that can occur. China and other Asian countries are collectivist societies, while we, in the West, are individualistic. This means that it may be easier for them to get in the spirit of “We are all in this together” or “The greater good”, than us. I am not saying one is better than the other and we ought to be like Japan, but we simply cannot ignore the differences between us and say we should just over night become like them. Let’s not forget that China is a communist regime, where citizens must be on their best behaviour all the time, including their private life or they face consequences. Let’s not pretend it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Their obedience of the rules comes as a package. You can’t just pick one aspect of it, and hope it would work in the UK, which is divided politically, nationally, racially, and expect people to have the same level of commitment to the collective society. You don’t want to be like China. Trust me.

  • Facemasks are the new virtue signal. At the beginning, when countries started locking down, celebrities were all taking part in the #StayHome. When I say all, I mean all the ones we heard from, most remained quiet. All of them showed us how virtuous they were, how responsible they were by staying home and saving lives. They all did their home workouts, Instagram live from their living rooms – just to show they are staying at home. I should also mention here, how a few celebs seemed to get COVID19 at the beginning, almost like it needed more advertising, more screen time to get us all in line. Then, when facemasks were on everyone’s mouth – figuratively and literally, all these celebrities, politicians and other public figures started posting their pictures and videos with masks on – something they never had done before. Not until it became a new way to show how good and responsible you are. It’s kind of like they have to be seen wearing a facemask so that the general public sees it as the right thing to do. Quite recently The Rock also announced he had coronavirus. How strange that a man with millions of followers needs to tell them he has a cold, but Chadwick Boseman managed to keep his cancer to himself. He obviously sadly died recently, while The Rock is back on the set. Somehow, none of those who announced their infection died of it or were hospitalised. Some musicians and other artists have died AFTER testing positive (meaning not necessarily because of COVID19, but with it or simply of other causes up to 28 days after testing positive), but I don’t remember any announcements from them.

  • All governments can’t be wrong can they? Of course, they can. Most governments have locked down because they listened to a handful of men and their predictions. Neil Ferguson made a doomsday prediction which made Boris Johnson and Donal Trump decide to lockdown. Many other countries followed simply because they didn’t want to do the wrong thing by not doing anything. Most government officials are just trying to save their careers, not our lives. If they don’t do anything, people will have their heads. Sweden did pretty good, but nobody wants to talk about it. Australia has turned into a police state, where you can’t even put a Facebook post up disagreeing with lockdown or you get arrested. The UK’s rules and restrictions make no sense at all. On top of that, people seem to need to have someone hold their hand constantly and tell them when it’s ok to cross the road. Just make your own judgement. All governments can be wrong! Billions of people still believe in some version of a god and are most likely wrong. For most of the human history, people bought and sold slaves in every corner of the earth. That was wrong. In every country that faces restrictions, thousands of people have protested against them. You may believe they are wrong. One expert made a scary prediction for the entire world, and everyone listened. The question is. How many of us will get any taste of normality back after this?

  • “I really don’t mind wearing a facemask”. No, you don’t mind not having a choice but to wear a facemask. People think they don’t mind wearing it are just kidding themselves. They have simply been convinced that they can no longer make decisions about their bodies, and they are alright with it. This passive obedience is easy and comfortable. The hard thing to do is to say no. It is easier to pretend everything is fine, because if you don’t, if you admit that your rights and freedoms are being taken away from you, you face a dilemma. You either have to stand your ground and fight, which is hard and difficult, may result in losing friends and social life. Or you don’t do anything about it and admit you are a coward, hoping someone else will be the hero you need. Doing nothing is hard in this case too because every day you obey these rules, you step out into that world and live a lie, it is eating you inside, and in the long term, this will not be good for your mental health. Pretending that everything is alright is the easiest thing you can do. And that is why you do it.

  • Masks should be mandatory outside. – I watched a clip on You Tube. A reporter was asking people in Liverpool what they thought about the coronavirus measures taken by the government. One man said that masks should be mandatory outside. I found it really ironic because he was outside, and he was not wearing a facemask. He could voluntarily wear one outside, as many others do already, but he is waiting for Boris Johnson to make it mandatory, is that right? This is the state of these people. These are the people who would go to the beach and complain that there is no sign warning that the water is wet.
Man choosing not to wear a mask outside says they should be mandatory outside
  • False sense of safety. Facemasks provide false sense of safety. There have been many studies that suggest that facemasks don’t stop the spread of viruses. This includes surgical masks. This information is available, so I won’t get into that here. Not to mention the way people wear their masks, how many times they reuse the same mask, how they store their reusable masks, and what type of masks they wear. People tend to touch their face more often with their masks on. I mean, just yesterday, I was getting a haircut, and my barber kept adjusting her mask. Had she been given a choice, she would not be wearing it, but this applies to everyone else. People touch their faces more often because masks irritate them. This often happens before they get a chance to wash or sanitise their hands. Add to it the number of times they have to take off their mask to unlock their phone and eat or drink. When you look at it like this, you can’t help but think about all the bacteria you transfer directly to your face from the surfaces you constantly touch. You may think you’re helping others, but you’re harming yourself.

  • If nurses can, so can you. This argument gets thrown around a lot. It also comes in the form of “If masks don’t work, then why do nurses wear them?”. Everyone likes to sound like they know what they are talking about, but they don’t. Right now, during the pandemic, nurses and other medical staff wear facemasks throughout their shift. This, however, was never the case before. And it is the before this argument is based on. Let’s tackle it. As I mentioned, the medical staff never used to wear facemasks their entire shifts. They did so only when working close to a patient’s incision. The reason for that was and is not to not infect the patient with a flu or another virus. It is precisely to not infect that surgical cut with bacteria from their mouth. On top of that, masks are not the only way they reduce the risk of such infection. Their whole outfit is sterile and again – it is only to not infect the patient with bacteria. There is conflicting data on whether surgical masks stop the spread of flu like viruses. So, the argument is not good enough, because nurses do not wear masks all the time (in normal circumstances), and when they do, it is not to stop everyone from getting ill, but to stop the spread of the bacteria directly into patient’s incision. If, however, you want to rely on the medical staff, let me tell you something. The other day my wife went to the hospital. She is pregnant and has asthma. At the time we weren’t clued up about exemptions too much and we thought they didn’t apply in the hospitals which made it harder to stand our ground. I didn’t wear it, but I wasn’t allowed to go past the reception anyway. Tried to explain to the man that she was pregnant and had asthma. His response? He put his finger inside his mask, pushed the mask out to allow more air flow, and said this should be sufficient enough to grasp some air if she struggled to breathe. So apparently it is ok to put your finger, full of bacteria, close to your mouth (while all posters and medical advice asks you to not touch your face without washing your hands) to allow yourself to breathe freely. The man also said that without a doctor’s note, she had to wear the mask, but doctors are not allowed to give exemption notes. Had this happened a week or two ago, I would have known our rights in these illogical rules.

  • Grief. This will make me sound heartless, and maybe I am, but grief is not an argument. Feelings are not arguments. I feel sympathy with everyone who has lost a loved one in any circumstances. But losing a loved one to COVID19 does not prove the severity of this disease. I would argue that grief, just like anger blind our judgement and censor our critical thinking. Think of a boxer stepping into a ring. If he is angry with his opponent, he is very likely to let the anger rule over his experience, expertise and his plan of action. Only if he is calm, focused can he stick to the plan, rely on his skills and strength. He has to be emotionally detached from the fight. The same applies to everything else in life. No good decision is ever made when we are angry or upset. The book How Not to Worry by Paul McGee taught me this. We are less likely to make a good judgement when we are emotionally attached to the situation at hand. This is why after a breakup we might think we will never love again, but our best friend reassures us that this feeling will pass. How is the friend so confident? Because she is not emotionally attached to your problem. I am not saying we should not be emotional when we lose a loved one during the pandemic. I am saying that when we do, it is hard for us to think critically, look at the statistics, the real death rate as well as somebody else can without grief blocking their common sense. Fear, grief and anger are your worst friends when trying to remain rational. Once you block them, your vision becomes clear. But they are not arguments.

This list could probably go on. Feel free to add your own. I have been collecting these for weeks and had to narrow them down to the ones I find most illogical and stupid and the ones that come up the most. If you think I am wrong about any of this, also let me know. Who knows, you might just have the right argument and turn me into a mask wearer.

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There are no heroes

“Should I shut up and be quiet in the face of things that I think are injustices because it makes me safer? A lot of pragmatic people will say, ‘Well, yeah, you’ve done enough, you’ve done your part. Be safe, be happy’ […] The system, the world, it all gets worse every day that we don’t do something about it. Every day we stay silent about the injustices we see, the world gets worse. Yeah, it’s risky. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable, but that’s why we do it. Because if we don’t, nobody else will. All those years I was sitting hoping for someone else to come forward, and no one did, is because I was waiting for a hero. But there are no heroes. There are only heroic decisions. You are never further than one heroic decision away from making a difference. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small difference, or a big difference, because you don’t have to save the world by yourself. In fact, you can’t. All you have t do is lay down one brick. All you have to do is make things a little bit better, so that other people can lay their brick on top of that, and together, day by day, year by year, we build the foundation of something better.”

Edward Snowden