We live in a time of complexity
Nice, France, September 2021
“I just got a job as a personal assistant, the first job offer in a very long time. And I got it because I am vaccinated.”
He smiles, happy for the opportunity. Knowing that he replaced a person who didn’t take the vaccine.
Sometimes we say that Sweden is a divided country. And the last year the division one talks about is off course created by the pandemic. Spending time in France, I realize that what happens in Sweden, is just a murmur, compared to the high pitched voices here.
And also, that in this country, as well as in Sweden, I guess a large part of the population is somewhere in the middle, just wanting to return to life as usual: Seeing each other, hugging each other, no longer fearing the proximity of another, not really being in the heatwave of pro or cons towards the vaccinations, just choosing to take them, to be able to … yes… rapidly coming into a space of business as usual.
And the French have this habit of demonstrating their emotions on the street. Of walking out, shuffling manure on the streets, or putting on yellow vests, to show what they feel and what they want. And I see in the persons walking the streets with big signs and flags, manifesting a huge mistrust in authorities. Meaning that authorities, such as governments, are corrupt, meaning that they are lying, meaning that they are not there for us citizens, that they are there more to rob us, or to take advantage of us.
And the demonstrators know how to make noice, know how to be visible in the public eye. And still they are a minority. Almost 80 percent of the French has taken at least one shot of the vaccin.
To me the picture isn’t black and white, it’s a grey scale. It’s complicated.
On one hand I do understand that people get frustrated from being in several lockdowns. I do understand that this policy with face-masks seems a bit exaggerated.
On the other hand I do understand that governments wants the pandemic to end, seeing vaccins as the best solution. And I do understand that they also might feel frustrated, handling a situation where demonstrators fills the streets, at the same time as people get sick… I do understand they try to find solutions to this. (And I notice that different countries choses different solutions to make this work).
To me it’s a bit weird that people need to put on a face-mask as soon at they walk indoors, and then re-using the masks hundreds of time. How would that really stop a virus?
And in France even children needs to wear them in school, from six years old an up. I do understand why some people starts to scream: ”We want freedom”.
Could there be another approach then face-masks?
Well, we in Sweden have indeed had the opposite approach, at least most of the time.
And to make people take the vaccin, the authorities have decided to demand a ”passe sanitaire” – what we in Sweden call covid-passports – to allow people to go to restaurants, museums and more.
And the latest step in to force people who work in the public sector to take the shot, otherwise risking to lose their jobs.
In Sweden we have chosen milder methods. And to me it seems like most of us do trust authorities.
Adding to the grey scale: What if the vaccine is the best way to rapidly open the societies again? What if persons with not protection (not having anti-bodies) risk to ill, and make the health care crumble under the burden of taking care of seriously ill people?
I guess there is more than two sides the this coin… the grey…
Most of the French seems to – like the Swedish – being prepared to accept the vaccin, because it actually gives us freedom. Without the shots I couldn’t be in Europe now. I couldn’t travel. And I could neither meet my elderly parents. To me, personally, the choice was simple. And since I do not believe that I am transformed to a robot, a zombie or a sheep from accepting this, well I am okay with it.
I’ve met people who are very distrustful towards authorities, and chosen not to take the shots. I’ve met people who are angry.
And I’ve met a lot of ”main stream people” who roll their eyes, when talking about the yellow vests and demonstrations. ”They are idiots”. ”They keep the pandemic going”.
The other day we went to Nice, and it happened to be a Saturday, and it happened to be the time of the weekly demonstrations. And we happened to be int the middle of this turmoil. We saw thousands of people marching peacefully while chanting. Many of them where carrying homemade placards saying a lot of no’s and demanding freedom. It was more like they ”knew” that vaccines are bad, that many get sick from them. An example: There was this placard with the words: Vaccines good from whom, and then a picture of a lot of money (referring to Big Pharma) and on the other hand a coffin (message; You die if you take the vaccin). And there were all sorts of worries, like is this handling of the pandemic transforming the society to one where different kinds of freedom (like the freedom of speech) will disappear? I actually didn’t notice any placards saying a yes to something, I saw no ideas of what would solve this situation, just a lot of NOs on different levels.
The demonstration was very peaceful, from my perspective, and I guess that one of the reasons might be that there was a huge amount of police in the quarters nearby, also police clearing the streets before the demonstrators (and my interpretation was that this meant that the weekly demonstrations actually are allowed, and sort of supervised by the police.)
And at the same time, there was ten thousands of people walking the streets, doing their Saturday shopping, having their coffees at cafés, taking a dip in the Mediterranean. Just a block a way, it was like the demonstration didn’t happen, like life is back to normal, except for the face-masks.
At one occasion, outside a shop here in Callian- Montauroux, a woman looked at the license plates of our car, asking if we come from Sweden. As we nodded, she said that Sweden is good, no lockdowns, no dictatorship. With sad eyes she said: I just lost my job, since I refuse to take the shot.
And I said: Well, we have our covid passports, otherwise we couldn’t come here.
And to just show the complexity of it all:
Later a friend told me about the new job. He got it because of a person similar to this woman. Someone who refused to take the shot, being sacked. And of course he was happy about the opportunity to work again.