5 contentious issues that divide us so very easily

Religion, politics, and superpatriotism were bad enough. Now this!

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Of all the caustic methods that have been used to divide and polarize citizens in the modern age, the covid-19 induced divisions are an unwelcome addition to a list of such contentious issues. While covid-19 may not be a purposeful event (?), it sure has managed to create divisions in society, the very same way that deliberate movements do.

It is well known that such contemptuous issues have always led to violence, lawlessness, and anarchy, ultimately spiralling out of control. The ensuing turmoil that spills over onto the streets causes large scale destruction of public and private property alike. This is truly unacceptable in a civil society. A society that rests on the pillars of democracy; the tenets of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, compassion and generosity. Let’s take a look at some of the new divisions that have been birthed by the pandemic, and how they’ve managed to split society into factions.

Vaxxers vs Anti-vaxxers
Naturally, the very first one to make it to this list is vaccines. Mandatory vaccine passports, vaccine induced deaths and side effects, forceful vaccination of rural, destitute, and other vulnerable folk from society has turned many ardent followers of natural health into vaccine skeptics, or “anti-vaxxers”. The daily deaths caused by vaccines, along with an alarming rise in the incidence of the virus itself among the vaccinated, have made many doubt its efficacy and usefulness in preventing Covid-19.

On the other side of the fence, the “pro-vaxxers”, as they are called, are confident in the effectiveness of available vaccines in preventing the spread, and greatly reducing the severity of Covid-19. They contend that while the vaccine doesn’t guarantee 100% immunity against the virus, the severity of the virus and the death rate among the vaccinated is extremely low compared to those who aren’t vaccinated. And just like the anti-vaxxers, they too have the proof to back up these claims.

Pro-mask vs Anti-maskers
The next contentious issue spawned by the Coronavirus pandemic is that of masks. The two camps, the pro-maskers and anti-maskers, are continuously at loggerheads with each other, each denouncing the claims of the other with proof. The pro-mask group claims that masks are effective and do work in preventing the spread and transmission of the coronavirus strain to a great extent. And that we shouldn’t let our guard down till the virus has been completely eradicated.

In the other camp, the anti-maskers assert that face masks are actually ineffective in blocking the transmission of Covid-19. They further add that masks in fact, significantly reduce oxygen intake and cause greater breathing difficulties, making the wearer all the more susceptible to the Coronavirus. This particular issue has created a lot of bitterness and hostility among the public in commonly frequented areas: cussing and mud slinging inside grocery stores, street brawls, racially motivated attacks in public transport, and increased animosity towards outsiders, especially Asians, in American cities.

Online giants vs Retail stores
Ever since the onset of the pandemic, billionaire net worth has grown a hundred fold, significantly enough to buy vaccines for all of humanity, or so claim certain news outlets. But the biggest winners during this time, the likes of Amazon and some of the local e-commerce giants in emerging economies, seem to be getting all the negative attention. One faction says that this kind of growth is good for the country due to trickle down economics and the assured job security that comes with increased profits. That big corporations will be in a better position to retain existing employees and shelter them from the raging pandemic.

The other side accuses Amazon of “destroying retail jobs, exploiting workers and harming the environment.”, particularly during the height of the pandemic.

“The American company Amazon has come under fire on several occasions from campaigners, most recently over conditions of its workers during the Covid-19 crisis.”

Amazon almost doubled its profits in the first half of 2020, as the pandemic raged on, while destroying local retail stores and forcing others out of business with predatory pricing tactics such as ‘Amazon Prime Day’. While local businesses were shutting down, laying off workers left, right, and center, owing to Covid induced losses, Amazon was busy growing bigger and mightier. It further got a shot in the arm, when the govt allowed only e-commerce deliveries to take place during the second lockdown. Local e-commerce giants started taking a leaf out of the Amazon playbook and resorted to similar tactics under the names “The Great Indian Sale”, “Big Billion Day”, and others, rubbing salt into an already open wound inflicted by the pandemic.

English medicine vs Natural remedies
The pandemic boosted the sales of palliative medicine and Ayurvedic potions in India like never before. Health tonics, immune boosting teas, herbal drinks, and superfood supplements have seen an explosion in sales, especially during the first half of 2020, as consumers hoarded many other essentials in vast quantities. Go to any medical store in India today, and you’ll find various kinds of immunity boosters, superfood mixes, dietary supplements, vitamin formulas, herbal tonics, Kashayas, and multivitamin pills line the tabletop right at the entrance of most pharmacies. Indians have been chugging these like crazy since the pandemic began, and have even gotten sick from doing so.

The other side believes that immunity boosters are just that: Immune ‘boosting’ in nature. And will do absolutely nothing in preventing someone from contracting Covid-19 if their health and lifestyle are already out of alignment. They further contend that people should not believe in bogus claims made by naturopaths regarding treatments for covid-19, and that English medicine is at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic.

The faux meat dominance conspiracy
One particular conspiracy theory that was floating around somewhere during the middle of the pandemic last year, was all about how a certain group of entrepreneurs took advantage of the pandemic to establish the dominance of fake meat in the market. A news item of notable interest was Bill Gates’ investment in the technology, and the fact that the pandemic has been used to scare people away from traditional meat (which is real food btw) to get them to eat Frankenstein meat. Apparently, Bill Gates wants all rich countries to “shift entirely to synthetic beef”. However, this is just one of the many measures he suggests to mitigate the risks posed by extreme weather and climate change to humanity.

The runaway sales and spectacular growth seen by vegan e-commerce giants around the world further bolstered this stance made by conspiracy theorists and has made proving them wrong that much harder.

Do we need a vegan world? Definitely yes, for a variety of reasons.

Do we need to be consuming Frankenstein meat on a daily basis in order to achieve that goal?

Not necessarily. But you can bet your bottom dollar that it will, doubtless, divide a room full of people into two separate camps. The ones for lab meat and the ones against.

The other faction, environmentalist vegans, contend that if we are to ever get out of the humanitarian, ecological, and global health crises that we’ve so neatly curated for ourselves over the decades, then going vegan is one of the biggest ways to do so. The meat industry is one of the most polluting, exploitative, and wasteful industries on the planet. And shifting to lab meat is surefire way to considerably reduce those emissions.

Final thoughts
While there might be an unduly vast number of issues over which humans can easily be divided, we must ensure that we don’t enforce or mandate our worldview upon others. Neither should we become so fanatical about certain beliefs, that we instantly turn hostile and indifferent towards proponents of opposite beliefs and those having divergent thoughts. Let’s not become hypocritical in our thinking, and start aligning our actions with our words.

We must remember that the very people we oppose, could be the very same ones enabling our extravagant lifestyles. The underprivileged people we gossip about may be the very same people employed by our food production systems. The ones we outrightly hate may be educating our sons and daughters at school. And the ones whose religious beliefs we abhor so very gleefully, might be the very same ones sitting at prime positions in various academic institutions, municipal corporations, scientific communities, and government departments.

The world is round after all, and ruining friendships over trivial political discussions is bound to lead to communal discord and disharmony. The very same communities that we would ourselves fall back on when things get hard.

Remember that the next time you block someone over an offensive post.

I am an avid trekker, content writer, photographer and sports enthusiast. I write about trekking, society, overpopulation, lifestyle and veganism in general.