The generation of anxiety: covid-19, and cranium

Paul James Crook
7 min readJan 10, 2022

Returning to East Africa, Kenya, from Europe, United Kingdom, England, the geography in how socio-economics and health link together is very apparent. We have heard, felt, the differences in how we are treated across different political entities. How we view this treatment is dependent on who we are.

Yes, there were the trends and patterns as politicians cut and paste responses between different jurisdictions. The blunt use of travel bans has been shown to be just that: blunt. And, as with using a hammer on a screw, at best a short-term fix, regularly counter-productive. At worse, creating more mess than solving any particular problem.

As Omicron has emerged from the SARS-CoV-2 toolbox of how to survive and thrive, we are seeing, hearing and sensing differing responses in terms of the manner we humans act and react. How we are thinking about the balance sheet that is our personal wellbeing, the virus and other elements impacting our health.

The Omicron wave, once more, showed up the inequality in the speed and manner of reaction to its identification, implications and reinforcing political rhetoric of we are all in this together was a façade with no substantial delivery beyond the negatives of reactionary travel bans. More blunt instruments swung by popularist politicians?

This is a reflection and questioning of how we as individuals are thinking, thence collectively have taken to digesting the guidance available from multiple sources. Time to use the cranium’s contents:


We have all (well nearly all) had to comply with rules and regulations if we were to get onto flights and travel by air from different states. Yes, people have sought to circumvent with the odd fabricated test provided by a corrupt person in some testing centres but, in the main, we have complied and worked with the odds of contracting the Covid-19 virus in different settings.

Once in different states, then compliance levels change — the Covid police are not ever present in each and every state (or parts of states in the case for several countries; Australia and China go into the same bracket in the principles being applied even if different manners to insist on compliance)


On the data available — often patchy, regularly interpreted through perspectives with different agendas. We are reliant on the people drawing through information from the data available.

This is particularly true of how Covid-19 has become a political agenda much more so than a health industry cause for delivery and reflection on this delivery. Yes, never can untangle epidemics, let alone pandemics, between basic service delivery and the politics of resource allocation and mobilisation.

A generalisation to challenge thinking: People have re-evaluated who and what they can have reliance on and in.

No data available but will suggest people where governance is weak are taking actions for themselves. Where the role of government has not been as an enabler (but enforcer), people are looking to those they can rely on; need to rely on. Bugger the consequences; if I have to lie about exposure to Covid-19, will do so if the imperative is to go to work, earn the school fees, pay the cooking and heating bills. Or even put food on the table and clean water in the kids’ cups.


There has become an inevitability we will have restrictions to the manner we interact. Is restrictions the right word? Certainly, in any number of jurisdictions, restriction is the right description. As China instigates further complete lockdowns with no one seemingly able to argue, Australia has uproar as people endure restrictive, proscriptive, laws only to witness exemptions being given; if your name is big enough Australia cancels player’s visa. Then we see proper process bbc-live Australia. Not, it seems, derailed by the rhetorical extremes of people exercising a personal agenda using the tirades of nationalism that have seen millions killed for ethereal calls to religious or ethnic incentives. Incentives profiting only the few perpetuating the miserable search for a panacea the majority of us continue to seemingly heed.

Will acceptance continue? Doubtful.

Where people are given decent information, the consequences are not directly impacting them, personally, then we see action. As the UK has witnessed, Joking about Downing Street parties, regularly the elite will throw a technocrat to the short-term media wolves. But, the systemic change required to have, say, a far more involved, participatory, form of government?

We are already witnessing the thinking draconian should not be the portent of dystopian; although the misuse of state force shows how the pandemic is being used to exercise other agendas in the consolidation of power.

Perhaps the moves to consolidate power are being accepted as people are having to look at expediency and their own family wellbeing. This latest wave of Covid-19, the Omicron variant, is accompanied with confused messaging regarding individual impact. Where people have little or no social protection, with milder


Is the mother of invention? Headlines related to China’s latest lockdowns spoke on ‘returning to ancient times’ with barter. Surely this is the purest form for removal of transactional costs? Purveyor directly with procurer no currency requirements? It speaks of how digital transactions have changed how we all pay and receive. None more so than governments who are realising the tax base has changed. In Ghana the MPs came to blows as they fought on how mobile money is to be taxed. The insidious creep of electronic money and the platforms controlling this is now being realised. The necessity of institutional change has been apparent for some time; but now, if government is to find its positive role, it is an imperative. This piece, for the ICSB, sway ElectronicMoney Crook, is reflective of thinking where the response to the necessities of governance are encompassed within the technology around means of exchange.

Necessity goes further for individuals. After the first all-encompassing lockdowns during 2020, it became apparent necessity for most people meant having to go to work. With weak or non-existent social protection systems in any number of countries, then people had to look after themselves. Across Africa, the expediency of precarious livelihoods (More of us as expedipreneurs? Crook) meant we saw the first real challenges to Europe dictating the ways of response. There were challenges to accepted thinking with changed views as to who exactly was dispensable in the supply and decisions chains? Essential workers were swiftly re-evaluated across Anglophone countries and much of Europe.


Interdependence as people realise their usefulness, whether they were an essential worker, an expendable person in some instances — a statistic to be quoted and possibly not even mourned by family and friends.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we are realising there must be a reset regarding how we work together, for each other. Skills and natural resources have become subjects for renewed thinking. The fourth industrial revolution is apparent with all things tech. How we create and add value. How we consume; even why we consume. Now a choice for some mothers whether to put credit on the phone or eat for themselves after feeding the children such is the reliance on digital engagement (Africa businessinsider kenya, southafrica, nigeria digital payments).

Are we ready for the repositioning, possible challenges to social orders nothing happening. Inequity’s persistence as the considerations in precariat thinking become more apparent? Truly addressing inclusion and having far greater participation? A fairer way to vote on all issues could have us reinforce how we value all people and change for the positive how money mobilisation for marketing dominates elections.


Are useless unless brinkmanship is backed by significant cases to have people accept the need for such measures. Or, as we are seeing, there is the misuse of the law enforcement and state apparatus on military power. Misuse? Deliberately employed as, surely, we should accept the need for ultimatums related to the life or death for ourselves, our families, friends and all fellow citizens (if not all humans).

But, as COP26 (TheEconomist climate change) has shown, what we say and what we do, let alone achieve, are very different things. For all the rhetoric, for all the demands and statements regarding action, and ultimatums for action, nothing much changed. Yes, as individuals, people are doing things to impact their impact on climate change. Same as with the SARs-CoV-2 pandemic, people are taking positive measures and complying with proactive, promotive, health considerations. Why do we have martial law on the pandemic of Covid-19 and no similar action on the positive measures to be taken on the Climate Emergency declaration (Climate emergency — word of the year 2019 according to the Oxford English Dictionary)?

Ultimatums are lost in popularist political rhetoric. Dressed down for here and now consumption to stay in power based on old technology through the misuse of new technology. Coal fuels the electric used for social media misinformation and exploitation via digital betting? A further reason to have meaningful change in how include and respect diverse views? A fairer way to vote on all issues


At the end of the day, sadly, people are still going without a meal. Globally, even before the pandemic, we were well off the road, some say lost in the diminishing forests, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. SDG 2 is zero hunger. A grand and desirable goal. Lost in the spin are related considerations regarding the quality of the meal, still talking only one meal, for each person each day.

This is why we now witness increasing numbers of people, not the poor alone but what can be described as middle-class people, in numerous countries having to choose between compliance, necessity and meals. Often on limited data, increasingly ready to challenge ultimatums as their circumstances place reliance and interdependencies into fresh perspectives.

Change is happening; an altruism as change is always happening.

The difference now seems to be that change is driving policy as well as practice.

For the better after the pandemic is controlled? For us to make it happen with some more cerebral work beyond the use of cranium as an acronym.



Paul James Crook

Possibilities in mind, body & spirit opened by being in Fragile States: countries & inside my own head. Exploring one’s self & community Challenging boundaries