Catherine Calderwood should not have disregarded measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 that she was largely responsible for formulating and having adopted. But let’s not kid ourselves that this is why she has been hounded from her post as Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr Calderwood was targeted because she was vulnerable. The pack is predatory. And that’s how pack predators operate. The single out the weak and harry them to exhaustion. The photograph of Dr Calderwood visiting her second home was the equivalent of blood in the water. The ravening mob responded as atavistic instinct compels.
It may, of course, be argued that Dr Calderwood invited the attack. That she was the author of her own fate inasmuch as she should have taken greater care not to look like a potential victim. She is not some wobbly-legged fawn fresh to the world and yet to learn its vicious ways. She did not rise to the position she held without encountering – and escaping – predators. She should have known better.
It could very well be argued that she could/should have been better protected by the herd. There seems general agreement that the country benefited from her abilities and qualities. Had she been more fortunate, the stronger members of the herd would have confronted and deterred the predators. Or the herd, following some instinct of its own, might have crowded round and offered shelter in sheer numbers. She should have been so lucky.
The pursuit of Dr Calderwood played out as such pursuits so often do, with the prey being brought down and savaged. Temporarily sated, the packed mills around the corpse savouring what it assumes to be its power mindlessly unaware that it was merely the instrument of forces beyond its ken.
I don’t defend what Dr Calderwood did. But what she did was far less deplorable than what was done to her in response. We are human beings. Contrary to appearances, we are not slavering beasts. We can choose not to be slaves to the lizard-brain bequeathed to us by evolution. We can opt out of the hunt. We can subordinate our base urges to our higher intellect. We can reason. And, having the capacity to reason, we are capable of being reasonable.
That is true power. Power to go where we will rather than where we are led either by our primitive instincts or those who are skilled in manipulating them. The power to choose – for good reasons or none – not to hunt today. Or not to hunt this particular prey. Every once in a while we need to let one go. Just to show that we have the power to do so. Just because we can.
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