With an astronomical rise in cases of novel coronavirus and the curve still far from flattening majority of Pakistanis have chosen to move from denial to drowning themselves in the deluge of conspiracy theories. According to one survey, 55% of Pakistanis still do not believe that they are living through a pandemic, negating the very presence of the deadly pathogen.
Hence, the phrase, “This Corona Shrona thing is nothing”, but interestingly they also believe it has been doctored in a laboratory in Israel (our obsession with Zionism and Yahoodi Shazishen) in cahoots with America so that the people would be pushed to using alcohol rich hand sanitizers. I heard this from quite younger cousin of mine who works as immigrant labour in one of the gulf countries and in order to establish a really “cool” online persona he often uploads some really disturbing stuff like guns and is seen drinking alcohol. This is where I get really confused about the way our worldviews have been formed and help us make sense of the world.
It has been particularly frustrating for me as a daughter as my father lately had fallen sick, he is a chronic heart patient and had developed a chest infection too. I cannot put in words the agony some of my family members had to go through as my brothers also fall in the category of believers of conspiracy theories. They kept arguing about the poisonous injections and the way people at hospital would butcher if anyone chose to show up.
After a lot of struggle and haranguing, I and my sister were able to take our father to the hospital where they took really good care of him, of course, the nuisance we had to deal with the repeated Corona tests and each time we almost held our breaths while the results came out. Thankfully every single time the result was negative and my brother who was able to observe everything at the hospital kept clamouring, “all of this is a pack of lies” and when asked why the hospital staff chose not to wrongly admit our father in the Corona ward he had no logical explanation.
I had to narrate the whole incident to highlight how this behaviour of ours is damaging and taking its toll upon people’s emotional health as well. We not only had to deal with the stress of an ill beloved parent but to fight with the idiocy too. After the discharge of my father, a fresh struggle ensued as we literally had to ask relatives living in different cities to not come and inquire after his health in person, while they taking offence. This explains how deeply interlinked this issue of the heath is with the culture.
We are so set in our ways that there is only one prism that can give us access to reality but that is devoid of any logical reasoning and research.I speak from personal experience, that is why I can relate how some people’s irrationality can create difficult situations which might turn out to be too hard to manage. Sadly, this trend of throwing a weird mix of notions is not peculiar to Pakistanis alone, as I have read and heard from my friends abroad that there is a considerable number of people who subscribe to similar narratives and negate the reality.
It means we as humans have to take a shared responsibility in becoming more nuanced and acclimatise ourselves with the spirit of science which unlike conspiracy theories is neither straightforward nor simple nor watertight instead is constantly evolving. That is why the knowledge related to Covid-19 is complex, fragmented and contested. We need to train our minds to think in these intricate terms instead of falling prey to the traps set by our own minds and predicaments.