The apocalypse, the flat earth, and COVID-19

Andru McCracken, Editor

By Andru McCracken


It is always great to find common ground. COVID-19 has me finding common ground with a group I don’t normally have time for: Doomsday preppers.

Instead of calling me names (like sheeple) for not having 100 pounds of rice on hand (which is hoarding, by the way), preppers are now politely asking for permission from the village to relax restrictions on raising laying hens.

It’s not the first time the request has been made. I support it.

In a letter to council a local man is asking for permission to keep laying hens (and goats, on properties that are large enough).

I don’t think farming is for everyone, but having food production capacity in the community is important. That seems pretty clear.

If I had to guess at the real reason a chicken bylaw wasn’t introduced when it was last considered seriously, I would venture it was ‘status.’ Farming and food production was ‘unbecoming’ of a young and upcoming tourism town. Selling real estate was the order of the day. Chickens? That was just unrefined.

As far as hens are concerned, hopefully citizens persist this time. It’s a good idea and has very little impact on neighbours if done properly. It will take some work and a little learning to figure it out, but it adds a layer of resiliency to the community. Not to mention a little knowledge about animal husbandry.

Goats in town? That probably needs a trial, but it’s worth considering. I’m biased of course because everyday I go to work I pass a life-sized goat statue.

People making practical appeals to government is legitimate community-building action. I applaud it.

I recognize it’s going to take the villages some time to deal with what they have on their plates already to consider it.

Influenza kills conspiracies
I’m often quick to discount conspiracy theorists because their naive question-asking is impossible to live with in the age of specialization. If we can’t agree that the world is a sphere (roughly) and that satellites exist in orbit, how can we have a conversation about anything? It is inconvenient and absolutely appalling as a journalist. Theorists filibuster reason itself.

Questions are a virtue, but every virtuous path leads down a road to vice.

It’s amazing to the extent that as a society, we have watched government and her many specialists meet with the challenge of the pandemic and create new extreme measures to keep us safe. We wait patiently while we watch them get it wrong, and try again, all the while panic-worthy scenarios play out in other countries around the world.

If I had to guess, the reason we tolerate this, and even enjoy it, is because we can see the decision making being done in real time. We are alive to the challenges these specialists face. We witness the cost to others, costs our community might bear too if our scientists get it wrong.

It was only a few weeks ago that I figured any bit of math or science that is more complex than can be shown in a meme would be fodder for refutation by conspiracy theorists: abstract mathy stuff, like calculus for example.

I can see I was wrong. Complexity may not be the issue. COVID is complex. The messaging around COVID is a complex disaster… for example “Flatten the curve” is good for a hashtag in a first year engineering class, but most of us don’t live in worlds where graphs represent people’s fate.

Our leaders have shut down our entire way of life, cast generations into uncertainty, separated perfectly trained worker bees from their hive and there is no widespread revolt.

We watch, we understand, we obey the directives. Suddenly instead of worrying about falling off the flat edge of the earth, we’re taking cues from specialists, trusting in government, working as a team with community members. In my mind this is a significant, if tragic upgrade.

Early on, many of us might have taken chances on our own health, but strong community bonds have us in lock down now. I hope and pray we have taken the measures required to slow

COVID-19 to a crawl, because if we have gotten it right, we may have uncovered the kind of tools we are going to need to combat much more serious challenges in the future.

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