Editorial: People are starlings, not lemmings

THE pandemic is a major disruption. Social behavior has become this shapeshifter of sorts it scares the hell out of control freaks. There seems to be a pushback wave that has also reached the tipping point.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says US President Donald Trump’s photo-op with a Bible outside a church is a “powerful message.” She compares the symbolic pose to the gesture of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who delivered a speech about resilience before World War II ruins. Or that of former President George W. Bush’s ceremonial first pitch at the Yankee Stadium after 9/11.

The press secretary says Trump’s pose sends the message against rioters, looters and anarchists. Well, by some extension of the symbolism, Trump’s stunt could be an exorcism scene, but of the sitcom kind.

Apparently, nothing but a spin attempt as protests escalate following the alleged murder of George Floyd in the hands of arresting police officers in Minnesota, Trump’s act dissipates like a dud. It could be a simple illustration of just how the usual ways of handling the herd may have already been worn out.

Sociologist and author Don Tapscott says we are now at a turning point in human history, the new generation is doing a kind of “demographic kick” that to rebuild the institutions of the Industrial Age needs a new set of principles.

He said: “The global economic crisis is opening up the world as well. Our opaque institutions from the Industrial Age, everything from old models of the corporation, government, media, Wall Street, are in various stages of being stalled or frozen or in atrophy or even failing, and this is now creating a burning platform in the world. I mean, think about Wall Street. The core modus operandi of Wall Street almost brought down global capitalism.”

The global health crisis, however, will push to the extreme Tapscott’s theory. Just when we have caught up with the dizzying changes in our economic environs, the structures are stirred back into mayhem, euphemized by the rather optimistic term of “new normal.” One of the most affected is the global perception of China; behold the distrust that grew out of the pandemic. Will it tilt the balance in world trade and commerce? Will this trigger a different direction in terrorism?

The protests in the US and in many parts of the world were ticked off by a single choke-holding incident in a curb in Minnesota. Right away, the civil unrest edged out Covid-19 as the dominant headliner.

Back home, when citizens disobeyed quarantine protocols, it was mostly not an act of defiance for its own sake. It was survival, self-preservation. The government’s push for the anti-terrorism law without the benefit of exhaustive discussion might trigger anything unpleasant while we drag our feet in this pandemic.

In the US protests, we have seen policemen and their chiefs kneeling in support of the protesters. Protesters, in turn, dragged looters out of the scene. It’s humanity at its best.

Tapscott compares humanity’s behavior to that of starlings moving in rhythmic swarms across the sky without a single leadership -- just the flock moving instinctively for self-preservation. It is free of external manipulation, from the evil politics of men.


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