Even though what we saw during the height of the pandemic was shocking enough for most people, what we saw during 2022 was arguably even more astonishing. During the lockdowns and quarantines and the forced business shutdowns, the sheer number of all the rights and freedoms that were coercively “suspended”, as though that’s a thing one can do with true liberty, left so many fellow citizens in disbelief. However, what many people found even more horrifying was the way it was seemingly all forgotten in mere months.
In the beginning of the year that is almost behind us, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine took center stage – and justifiably so, it was the definition of “breaking news” after all. But, the thing is, the conflict never left the front pages. Weeks and months passed by, and it never budged from the headlines, while the last story that did that so persistently for the previous two years didn’t even make it as a passing reference, as a question in a press conference, as minor topic of debate in the public square. It is true that this war has claimed thousands of lives and devastated thousands more. But the covid crisis destroyed countless lives too, caused incalculable damages, human and economic, and most of those impacted have yet to recover or even to see anyone held accountable.
However, it is crucial to recognize that this glossing over of the impact of the lockdowns and of the extremely irresponsible monetary and fiscal policies adopted during the covid crisis only really worked on a political level, or better said on a “narrative” level. Reality doesn’t really care about “talking points” and blame-shifting “spin” strategies. The economic damage has already been done and the consequences of the choices of the powers that be will remain with us for a long time. And it’s the same with everything that happened in 2022 as well.
Those who know me, know me to be an optimist, even in the face of unpleasant facts and gloomy realities that should change my outlook. This is because I tend to find silver linings in the darkest of clouds and I do my very best to keep my faith in humanity, hopefully without being naive in the process. For example, in our case, despite the nightmarish developments of the past 3 years, I have a good reason to be hopeful for what comes next. Sure, so many people suffered so much and will likely continue to do so for some time, but we did gain something important in the process that will help make sure that this time of suffering is not as prolonged as it would otherwise have been. So what was so precious that would justify such defiant optimism? Well, all the lessons we learned, all the wake calls received and all the minds changed during this ordeal.
A few months back, Edward Snowden perfectly and succinctly described what I always perceived as one of the core pathologies of our modern western societies: “People have forgotten the entire purpose of rights: to protect the minority from the majority. The majority never itself requires freedom of speech, press, or religion, because it is their opinion that defines the popular and acceptable. Only the *un*popular requires a defense.” This, for me at least, was the most important lesson learned. Too many of our fellow citizens genuinely believed otherwise until fairly recently.
Having identified the problem, it is my sincere hope that more and more people will now identify the solution as well: That one doesn’t have to kill the king, one can just ignore him. In other words, we can all just peacefully, civilly and respectfully agree to disagree. And those who do not find themselves aligned with the powers that be and their various mandates and dictates and decrees can simply take their own path and go their separate ways.
Thanks to advances in technology, communications, science and industry, this is no longer a pipe dream. Those of us who treasure our liberties and believe we can make our own decisions, without asking for permission and without negatively impacting the life and property of anyone else, there are tools readily available that can help us begin to “detach”.
We can use gold to protect our savings and private digital currencies to transact, we can use decentralized networks to communicate and the treasure trove of human knowledge that is the internet to better ourselves. We can form voluntary, productive relationships with like-minded people and we can build new, better communities based on mutual respect. The tools are therefore there, all that is needed is the will to use them.
“Freedom is not everything, but without freedom everything is nothing”
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my friends, partners and readers for their trust and I wish you all a happy new year 2023 and only the very best.
Claudio Grass, Hünenberg See, Switzerland
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