“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” ― Charles MacKay, ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’
We live in a small highlands country town in New South Wales. Ever since the madness began in late January/early February of 2020, there has been no incidence of community transmission of the Wuhan virus in our town. The air here is fresh, clean and cool when there aren’t bushfires raging nearby. The town is surrounded by trees and farms with grazing cattle and sheep, and with a small population nowhere is ever crowded, except perhaps at the local club when they have their weekly meat raffles. In short, it’s like any number of small country towns in regional Australia, mostly populated by generations of country folk, elderly retired farmers, and a small but growing percentage of blow-ins, who like us were sick of the city, and who went looking for the Old Australia of our youth.
In our church there is a wooden board that records the number of young men who went to fight in the Great War. There are a lot of names on that board. I’m not certain if the board records service, or deaths, or both. For a small country town, it seems that most if not all the families contributed a name to that board. There exists community spirit in our town. People rallied to help when prolonged drought broke the previously iron hard resolve and will of the local farmers. When fires decimated nearby villages and communities, donations of clothing and offers of accommodation appeared as if from nowhere for those displaced. This mindset of ‘doing the right thing’ is seared into the heart and soul of country folk and the older generation.
This generation, these people are the ones that grew up listening to ‘Blue Hills’ and the ‘Country Hour’ on ABC radio. They followed the weather forecasts issued by the Bureau of Meterology. They placed their trust in the ABC, the media, and government. Many still believe that government has their best interests at heart, and they possess a misplaced fondness for the ABC. Now, however, their trust has and is being abused by the activists and sociopaths who have infested those institutions. The brainwashing of the innocent and the ignorant has been relentless. So too the propaganda. I can see through the misinformation, but others cannot, those poor souls caught in a vortex of fear, who remain masked even though they walk quiet and near-empty streets, who remain masked even when driving in their cars. Those poor souls who are told by psychopathic bureaucrats that you can catch Covid in seconds, that you cannot stop to talk with a friend or a neighbour – a directive that is the true killer of a small country town like mine where just about everyone knows everyone else, and everyone stops for a chat. No longer do people talk about the weather, how much rain has fallen or is forecast to fall, what the cattle or feed prices are, or any other number of subjects that country folk yarn about. No, the talk is always ever about the contagion, where it has spread to, and the ever-present fear that one day it will appear here.
That this phenomenon is a kind of madness is undisputable. How it happened is less clear, although I have a couple of theories. Aside from the misplaced trust in the ABC and government that is held by the older generation, there is also our laid-back and “she’ll be right” Australian attitude, an attitude that has allowed government and bureaucracy to grow and erode our freedoms. This cultural, collective laziness and apathy has failed to hold our governments and the media to account, and we are paying the price for it now.
Australia, it was once said rode on the sheep’s back into prosperity; nowadays we seem to be a nation of sheep, mindlessly and obediently following the herd into the shearing shed, where we are being shorn not only of our prosperity, but also of our rights and fundamental freedoms.