• Michael Padilla-Pagan Pay

Red Pill or Blue Pill: Security, Society, and Science, Politicization of COVID-19


The talk of the town these days, are the COVID vaccines, their efficiency, their side effects, their purchase, distribution, application. You would be hard-pressed to find a topic more polarizing, more controversial, inciting more hatred and fury! The world is split into new mental, political, ethical camps: the vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers, and all those in between, those questioning, those trusting, those rejecting, those longing, those believing, those doubting… The victims of these endless debates are many and varied, family members, colleagues, friends, bosses, clients, doctors, nurses, scientists, neighbors.


Beyond the social, political, economic barriers that we all knew existed, now we have another one to split us in half, where do you stand? Where does your company stand? Where do you stand? And where do your people stand? Is it a matter of opinion? Of critical thinking? Of beliefs? Of faith? Of science? Of evidence?


Science is becoming more and more political, health is becoming more and more political, and there is no escaping the fact that security and health & safety is also becoming more political; with the risk management firms becoming caught in the crossfire. Even if we accept that firms can institute and enforce their own policies towards their employees, they undoubtedly cannot do so with their clients.


The politics of business are now becoming more and more dependent on issues that we never touched before: our own belief system, our own view of the world, our social understanding, our political bearing, our world view. These things that we tacked away, religiously compartmentalizing our own ideas and views, are now coming back with a vengeance to haunt the way we live and the way we do business.


It was not long before all business and security firms more prominently, had to address a very basic issue, a fundamental issue of human existence, rather than an operational quest. Is there an objective reality, scientifically guided or is everything a matter of personal and social perception? Should there be room to doubt the pandemic? The response? The aftermath? Is anything objectively measurable or is everything a common construction of our flawed perspective, ready to come tumbling down?


I am afraid I have no answers for you on those issues, but I do have some answers on the operational issues that arise from the pandemic and the rift between scientific understanding and public belief. In my view, this is a very basic problem; once we become familiar with early on in our lives and interactions with our fellow people: it is a matter of TRUST.


As Anthony Giddens has exquisitely highlighted in his works about post-modernity, the more technologically advanced (and dependent) a society becomes, the more trust it requires in order to run smoothly, as the citizens can no longer comprehend, know, or perceive the intricate scientific and technological workings of the services and products they use. But they use them, anyway, based on their collective trust! This trust is now broken, and war internal and external is on the rise, as society and science are recalibrating their paths to reach a new equilibrium.


In all my companies and particularly Al Thuraya Consultancy and ICESERVE24, that is what we primarily strive for: to earn and maintain the clients’ and the communities’ trust. We have been helping customers travel the maze of Travel and COVID requirements since the beginning of the pandemic and we have also supported the local communities in their struggles. This trust is valuable to us, as well as the respect of civil and personal liberties, as well as the safeguarding of public health and safety.


And if the above statement sounds complicated, it is because it is actually one of the most difficult issues I have ever had to face as Head of the Group. My own views, my own beliefs, and my value system are often in dissonance with what I see happening around me. The challenge is intense and real, who are you and what are you standing for, when what you believe comes into question? I am still struggling to answer that, but one thing is for sure, your personal views always subside towards the benefit to the people you serve, from whatever post. And no matter the struggle, united we stand and divided we fall!

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