A lot of things are conspiracy theory until they are fact.
Information comes in waves, whistleblowers give one another courage, and truths pile together, magnetically attracted and eager to reveal the larger picture.
When asked if she believes in conspiracy, the kind that involves governments, experts, and laypeople alike, my friend who’d retired from the military and the United Nations thought about the question.
“Collusion? Absolutely. Maintaining confidentiality about issues of national security? Yes. Conspiracy?” She shook her head.
How many of you reading this have planned a surprise party? Even with only a dozen attendees, you know how difficult it is to get that many people to keep their mouths shut. Accidentally group-texting the address and including the birthday person, sharing the facebook post without changing your privacy settings, or just letting it slip to the wrong person.
Conspiracy, taking the root from the words ‘to breathe together’, is incredibly difficult to pull off. We breathe together naturally, as a matter of course. Information is power, can be used as currency, and as social creatures, we are only too eager to share.
That said, there are some conspiracies I very much do believe in, ones that are being revealed before our horrified eyes.
I believe the evidence that suggests there is a global human trafficking plot, and that, for whatever reason, when men get a certain amount of money and power, they use it to access trafficked women and children.
This is what I could consider a poorly kept secret.
I also know that governments and private organizations around the world are researching and implementing geoengineering strategies to try to curb global warming. It seems obvious that a global population that relies on technology for our daily existence would look to it to solve the problems it caused. Throwing fire at the fire to put it out is a common human foible.
And hey, I also think aliens exist. I just hope they don’t ask to meet our leader.
I don’t think 624,000 people dying from coronavirus is a conspiracy theory. Even in Canada, we’ve reached the point where almost everyone knows someone who has become ill with COVID-19, or even died. In the United States, you can be certain this is true.
The idea that doctors, who swear a very specific oath that precludes the type of lying and conniving necessary in order to make the conspiracy theory true, would consistently and without collaboration across borders lie about causes of death shows a shameful misunderstanding of the very people dying to save us. Yes, COVID-19 patients often have acute co-morbidities yet their deaths are attributed to COVID-19 even if their underlying condition could also have proved fatal. AIDS patients often died from pneumonia. Cancer patients often starve to death. We still put their cause of death as being the condition that exasperated their illness.
Still, doctors are very smart people, as are the countless nurses and hospital staff that would need to be involved in a conspiracy of this magnitude.
But government officials? Sorry, I just don’t see it. If Tony Clement couldn’t help sending explicit images and getting extorted as a result, you expect me to believe members of government all around the world are managing to keep quiet on the biggest conflict many of us have ever survived?
One of my favourite quotes when it comes to right-wing women is, “The only moral abortion is my abortion.” Countless women were vehemently anti-abortion until they needed one themselves. The tune changes quickly when it impacts you directly. That’s also how gay people, after decades of pushing for tolerance and inclusion, finally made strides. More and more brave people came out, and suddenly everyone knew a gay person. Homosexuality can’t be evil if my pastor is gay! And in Muskoka, black lives matter took root because people of colour in our community were brave enough to say, ‘Yes, it happens here’. We saw that our neighbours and storeowners and the person who walks their dog first thing in the morning like you do were being treated badly and we believed it was wrong.
We hit tipping points with numbers. When it’s on the screen or on the radio, cold stats and climbing numbers don’t cause the little ‘friends and family’ parts of our brain to light up. We can disconnect from those numbers until they become people, until they become loved ones.
Right now, it’s easier to believe the virus is part of an unfathomably elaborate ruse with an undermined end game. (Feel free to educate me on what the end goal of this is, besides ‘control’, because war is better at controlling citizens and it boosts the economy instead of tanking it.) It gets harder to uphold the cognitive dissonance the more people die, especially when we know them.
Imagine how it would feel to be the host of a corona party, where you invite your friends and family, and two weeks later people are falling ill because you had just one asymptomatic carrier. Or you opened your church because your flock needs tending, and have to close again because the virus spread and people died. Of all the things I am willing to risk for my many radical beliefs, the death of others is just not one of them.
The group that stormed Walmart, maskless and ready for confrontation, so believes in their own truth, in their rightness, that they were willing to risk their health and that of others. To be honest, I have been that sure of very few things in my life. And where I can err on the side of protecting others, I invariably do, as that’s what I believe makes a community strong.
I’ve never wanted to be right so badly that I’d endanger another person.
We all have the right to live life maskless. We don’t have a right to fully enjoy the benefits of society if we choose to do so. There are many things we do for the greater good that are so normal we don’t protest them but that caused a huge backlash when they were introduced.
No longer throwing human waste into the streets, as once was common practise, is a good example. Washing hands while delivering babies is another. We don’t walk around with guns and we wear shoes when we enter stores, and we do this for safety or at least a commitment to safety.
I wear a mask because the virus is no joke and I don’t want anyone else to get sick. I wear a mask because I’m closely following what’s happening in the US and I’m alarmed. I wear a mask because I’m committed to participating in society as a valuable member who would rather heal than harm. I wear one because I want you to see, in an instant, that your wellbeing matters to me.
And of all the things I do in my life, if I look back on this and have to eat my words, discovering it was all a hoax and I needn’t have worried, I will still know I did the right thing because it cost me nothing and it came from a place of love.
If I’m wrong, no one was harmed. Have a look at your stance and tell me: can you say the same?
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Kathleen May is a writer, speaker, and activist. Her column, She Speaks, has appeared in the Huntsville Doppler since 2018. Her work in our community includes co-founding the long-running Huntsville Women’s Group, volunteering with Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services, and her role as a front-line counsellor at the women’s shelter. Kathleen is a 2018 Woman of Distinction for Social Activism and Community Development. She was longlisted for the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize, short-listed for the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize, and received the Best Author award for her 2018 submission at the Muskoka Novel Marathon, a fundraiser for literacy services. When she isn’t writing, she’s designing a tiny house which she intends to be the impetus for a sustainable women’s land co-operative in Muskoka.