I live in a small town.
Oh, it used to be the third largest city in the Commonwealth, but its census has steadily declined. Yet, even at its most vigorously populated, yep; still a small town.
A small town is like a personality – with a problem.
Certain patterns emerge.
First, its people tend to huddle in tribes. This offers at least the belief that those within their chosen group will provide protection — protection from any threat to stability, protection of assets, protection of reputation. Every living thing is prey to predator but, in close proximity, said predator could be just down the street. Self-protection is the whole purpose of tribalism.
Those in positions of leadership over these tribes are especially prone, particularly when it comes to management. Power cannot hide. It can’t just choose to live twenty miles away from prying eyes. Its actions cannot be protected by the anonymity afforded by distance. Why? Even tribes are not governed by proximity; people choose with whom they align, regardless where they might actually reside, and these usually according to common interests. The shop. The extended family. The bowling league.
So, those in power are self-protective, to a fault.
Over time, the desire to maintain self-protective power becomes a primary motivator.
This is how marginalization occurs. Suppose a tribal member rises in rank to a seat in council. Preferential actions are a given. Certain tribes may be relegated according to similarity bias. This is the cloak of politics. Soon, preservation of the control which comes with power can come to supercede even the interests of the greater good.
So, how is such power preserved?
Withholding vital information. What is not disclosed acts as a tool, perhaps a weapon; what is known can be used to control.
Enter the coronavirus pandemic.
What do those in power, especially in smaller, tribal communities, know that they keep to themselves? To what might they be privy, which can be used to protect their own? Moreover, how much does maintaining power depend on seizing and holding information, information which might cause a threat to their positional security? Perhaps expectations are overwhelming. Not revealing a lack of readiness is a form of insurance.
But, in the interests of the greater good, such non-disclosure carries the potential for fatal outcome. How many communities are currently flailing, its members acting on the latest byte of allegedly viable information passed down from within a tribe? Which leader is to be trusted to dispense accurate directives? Who instructs the doctors as to their potential patient needs?
I have a dear friend. Living alone in an apartment building, she has been fighting covid since early December. Initially, her doctor diagnosed bronchitis, and prescribed an antibiotic. After her covid test came back positive, did this doctor halt the antibiotic? To what extent was this doctor instructed? To what degree was my friend’s tribe fully informed? Were all local physicians updated from the outset, by those in power? Had those in power sought complete education on the subject, and dispensed their data freely to the entire population?
I wondered then, and I wonder now. I sit here, in the house I call my own, in the town of my birth, and wonder in silence about what I have been told and how much I truly know.
© 1/12/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including translation without direct sharing to the blog link. Thank you for respecting original written material.