Mental Alertness: A Casualty of COVID

AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

My mother-in-law is proud of having joined the ranks of the vaccinated. She had waited impatiently for the first jab and is now eager to receive the second. My wife and I have tried to reason with her, to present her with the facts relating to the growing number of adverse events, including hospitalizations and deaths of people we know and know of. We have explained in detail the nature of the vaccines, which were developed too hastily to be reliable or guaranteed safe, and which invade the cells of our DNA to produce a synthetic spike protein. But to no avail.

In her younger years, she and her late husband were skeptical of government control and the disinformation spread by the media. They tended to disbelieve the official pronouncements of government, suspecting they were the intended targets of the tax authorities and convinced they were good citizens whose loyalties were being carefully managed and exploited by the state and the press.

It is hard to recognize her now. Skepticism has turned to obeisance. She accepts the bona fides of our public health officers, despite their liability to a disturbing mix of soothing platitudes and terrifying forecasts wrapped in lies. She will not credit the undeniable evidence of their misconduct. Besides, all her friends are rolling up their sleeves; it would be unpardonable not to conform.

She listens religiously to our national broadcaster the CBC, whose fictions she swallows whole. When I tell her that I worked for the Mothercorp over several years in Public Affairs and have been interviewed there as well, and that I know something about how the outfit massages the truth in the interests of Liberal/Socialist propaganda, I am regarded as a conspiracy monger. The sweet young things reading their prepared scripts on national news programs must be telling the truth. The talking heads slathered in compliant rhetoric are surely to be trusted. But her daughter and son-in-law who have done the research and come with incontrovertible data, and who want only to keep her safe, are disregarded as mere enthusiasts and contrarians.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is her fallback mantra. I point out that one of the reasons an old dog is an old dog, at least in part, is because it deliberately refuses to learn new tricks. In her case, she need not learn new tricks. The old tricks of her younger days were more than adequate.

Be that as it may, what is perhaps most troubling of all is the fact that a majority younger population is behaving precisely like an old dog, that their attitudes and convictions resemble those of my mother-in-law. Wearing their masks while strolling in the great outdoors, riding their bikes and driving in their cars, and lining up in droves at the jab clinics, they are no less impervious to reason than the family matriarch. The CBC is for them the infallible word. The government is gratefully acknowledged in loco parentis. Public health officials who know where their bread is buttered are canonized. The collective cannot be wrong. No new tricks for this cohort.

It is distressing to see people under fifty acting as if they were approaching ninety. Mental alertness is a vanishing quantity and the future is irremediably compromised. We are living among a population that has grown old before its time.