Reality-based caring

My friend, after research on the internet, concluded that the coronavirus could not have evolved naturally in bats or some link species, but had to have been genetically engineered. The thought made her miserable. Its release had to have been an accident, she thought, she could not see any reason why anyone would do that.

I don’t believe SARS-CoV 2 was genetically engineered. I believe it would be generally known if it were. I believe academia would ferret such things out, and publications I trust, such as the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Atlantic or New Statesman would have publicised it. I have a high school education in physics and chemistry, and a lay interest in such writers and broadcasters as Jim Al-Khalili or Marnie Chesterton, so I have to take it on trust. I believe academia would debate that, and if it were true it could not be suppressed. I have read that the genome sequence shows that it was clearly not engineered, and can’t remember where.

And, the way human culture has evolved has caused the pandemic. It arose because of human encroachment into wild habitat, and exploitation of bush meat. It got a toe-hold because of the corrupt, terrified lower-ranking Chinese officials who threatened prosecution of Li Wenliang, the doctor who raised the alarm. I have no more reason to trust the Chinese investigators who, after Li’s death, recommended punishment for the officials who made Li withdraw his comments. The rule there seems to be “Don’t make us look bad- even in retrospect”. It rampaged through the US because their corrupt President knew it spread pre-symptomatically through exhaled aerosol droplets, and did not care. However there is not one person to blame, like a careless technician in a virology lab- we are all guilty, as Heinz Kiosk said.

Whether we react with sadness, anger or acceptance, there is huge communal and individual loss from CoViD- uncountable deaths, loss of jobs and businesses, economic depression. Possibly the thought of that terrible mistake lets my friend mourn it. Possibly I have not faced this great Fact of 2020 fully. My social life has improved, as people take to Zoom.

I wondered what Donald Trump meant by “radical left”, but he appears to attach the term to anything I would call “Reality based”. The Atlantic magazine prints conservatives such as David Frum, always introduced as George W. Bush’s speechwriter, and Anne Applebaum, who remains a small-state, low tax, respect for property rights conservative but a truthful one. The concept of “Reality-based” goes back to 2004, though the quote then seems to be about creating facts by concrete achievement- conquest, in that case.

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Now, “creating reality” means pumping up QAnon.

Instagram’s QAnon Moms care deeply about children abused by Democrat paedophiles, and if I believed with them I would care too, enough to work very hard for Q+’s re-election as President. Now, Republicans seem completely mired in fantasy, but it was a long time developing, through their climate change denial, or use of the Laffer Curve to cut taxes on the wealthiest indiscriminately. Perhaps politics is a grim fight for group advantage, and those who pretend to idealism in the interests of the whole community are hypocrites or trapped in cognitive dissonance.

Do people care about their fellows? Most people think caring about others is an admirable trait. However we may see ourselves as caring, on evidence which is too easy. Does tweeting about Black Lives mean you care, or must you do something in real life?

I understand the logic of my radical feminist friend’s position on trans rights, just not its value. Trans women are men, therefore trans women in women’s space is as inappropriate as a forty year old in a children’s centre. She and her fellow campaigners don’t want to reduce the rights of the trans woman any more than the notional forty year old, but they should not be there. I don’t agree. If Sara Ahmed can be a feminist activist supporting trans rights, why can’t she? Could she step back from logic, and consider the advantages of trans inclusion? However she can campaign for the expulsion of trans women from the women’s spaces where we are, and claim not to be uncaring.

I last posted a week ago. I’ve been thinking of writing projects which are too ambitious to actually write, and writing for somewhere else. I can’t draw this post together, but it’s stuff I’ve been thinking about. Does caring do any good? Does it need to be Reality-based to do good? I think so, but not everything here argues for that.

8 thoughts on “Reality-based caring

  1. I’m an atheist, and have been for over 50 years, but I spent almost 12 years in the Catholic school system, and some of the core principles stuck – such as, it’s what you do that counts, not necessarily what you think or say. On that basis, I’ve always believed that to be good, one has to do good. Not necessarily in some big, flashy way, but in the small, human ways available to us all.

    By that yardstick, phrases like ‘I’m not a racist, but..<>’ are less than meaningless to me. If you act like a racist, then that. is. what. you. are.

    Feminists who refuse to cede space to trans women are doing the same thing, just in a different way. Curiously, both examples have their genesis in fear. Othering is always about fear. And fearful people rarely change.

    It took courage to transition. And strength. And determination. Those are three qualities the fearful always lack. Why measure yourself by their standards?

    Stand proud. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t see how you can remain friends with those who want to curb your right to a life that reflects your true self, but my daughter’s intermittent misery about her future due to the current situation probably defeats any chance of objectivity!

    Like

          • Political is fine-

            I think “conspiracy” is a bit strong. While Labour has been riven with factions, Tony Benn against Shirley Williams, The Independent Group- remember them?- against Jeremy Corbyn, all us Remainers demanding a Second Referendum might have been the thing that lost the election. I want the Tories out of office for a decade, and am not sure that their incompetence over CoViD and their vandalism over the Union is enough, but I know Labour, the Greens and the LibDems will have to work together to get it done.

            Liked by 1 person

All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.