When Good People Do Bad Things

By Harry Hopkins

Recently I had a conversation with a senior local politician about The Light newspaper. I had just delivered a batch of papers to a shopkeeper who displays them on her counter for customers to take. While I was chatting to ‘Janet’, an elderly lady came into the shop. No sooner had she caught sight of the papers when she erupted in an explosion of sheer fury. ‘What on earth are you doing promoting that awful paper? It’s nothing but conspiracy theories. It says that the vaccine is killing people. It is dangerous in the extreme. It’s evil and vile and makes out that governments are bad and are knowingly harming people.’ She uttered much else besides and with each exhortation she worked herself up into a sorry state. ‘I’ll never set foot in this shop again’ were her parting words as she stomped out.

Janet was somewhat shell-shocked at this outpouring and didn’t say a word. She had previously told me that one or two customers had said they didn’t like the paper (to which she had replied ‘Well you don’t need to read it then’) but it didn’t take long for her monthly batch to be taken by enthusiastic readers. She had never seen this customer before and had never encountered this level of hostility.

I made an instant decision to go out of the shop and catch up with this lady, as I could see she was distressed. I caught up with her and in my most sympathetic and concerned demeanour (genuinely felt) I asked if she was OK, because she seemed so upset. Clearly, she didn’t connect me with the paper (why should she?) and began to regale me with the same vitriolic invective she had been using in the shop. Over the years I’ve learned that the only way to deal with people who are so hyped up is to let them vent out their feelings, be patient and not be in any way argumentative or confrontational. Letting people talk themselves out is the only way they will calm down and then, perhaps, you can converse with them on an even keel.

After some minutes she was beginning to settle somewhat and she then asked me if I had read The Light and if I had what did I think of it. I’ve been in similar positions before and have gradually realised that rather than an absolute defence of the paper and presenting a counter-argument, a more subtle and thoughtful response is always more productive.

‘I have seen this paper before’ I gently replied ‘and yes it definitely does present alternative views to the mainstream. My own opinion is that ‘truth’ is a slippery business in the modern world and I don’t know whether we can expect the truth from any source. Do you think we get the truth from the mainstream media?’ Her reply to this was interesting: ‘There’s no doubt the media exaggerate and mislead us to some extent.’ She told me about her position as a senior local politician, her involvement in the decisions made over the last four years and how it hadn’t been easy. I then realised why she had been so upset.

Now we were getting onto common ground. Job losses, businesses closing, the choices between heat or eat, constant wars and fearmongering, the insecurity and anxiety of modern life particularly for the young, NHS waiting lists, technology leaving millions behind and much else besides. I gently suggested that in view of the aforementioned, it might not be a surprise that more people were prepared to consider ‘conspiracy theories’ as their lives had been so seriously impacted, whilst those who were super wealthy seemed to benefit more and more. She certainly didn’t disagree with this. I must have chatted to her for 15 minutes and we were certainly on the same page regarding most things.

I brought the conversation to a conclusion and we parted with a handshake. My softly, softly approach may have planted a seed, who knows? But it is, in my opinion, the only way of dealing with people who are so psychologically damaged that they cannot comprehend an alternative to that to which they have been indoctrinated.

On December 4, Andrew Bridgen co-ordinated and chaired a presentation at Portcullis House: ‘An address by doctors and scientists regarding the Covid pandemic and its consequences’.

16 Members of Parliament attended and most seemed genuinely startled to hear the facts as presented. How, Ian Paisley asked, would MPs such as he manage public fear once his constituents were made aware of the truth imparted to them?

How indeed? And is it now the case that most MPs are simply too afraid to contemplate the truth, fearing the repercussions that will be forthcoming when the public finally find out the extent of the harms they have been subjected to?

The senior local politician who I spoke to had been instrumental in the enforcement of covid policies. However, she impressed me with her decency and her sincere belief that what she was doing was right. This is what I mean when I say ‘good people do bad things’. They do it out of ignorance and a lack of basic research, possibly because they have been systematised for so long.

Perhaps this goes some way to explain the anger shown by this lady when seeing the newspaper. Maybe deep down her conscience was pricked and the revelation of what might be true was too much for her. When the truth is established, there will be an awful lot of soul-searching and I do believe there will be very many people who will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to come to terms with their actions over the covid years. Many of us will need to be compassionate, understanding and forgiving, but considering the harms done, particularly if we have been directly affected, will we be up to the task?

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