Deploring has long been a favourite sport of mine.

Bankers, paedophiles, turners of blind eyes have all earned my opprobrium. I’ve deplored racists and people who speak or act violently, and in common with many others, I’ve greatly enjoyed deploring politicians. I’ve deplored climate change deniers and I’ve deplored people who criminalise asylum seekers. A good deplore always left me feeling righteous. As my wife points out I’m particularly good at seeing myself as righteous.

In recent times deploring has lost some of its gloss. It’s become like tenesmus, which is the medical term for the condition of dissatisfied defaecation. The instinct is blameless, the urge is strong, but the act feels somehow incomplete.

Hillary deplored deplorables to her cost. It turns out the deplorable are not few and they live next door or across the street, or among your friends.  

Covid has seen an outbreak of deplorables and of deploration, both in epidemic proportion. Anti-vaxxers, rioters who confront police, those who piss on the Shrine and expose the many to the risk of contagion; attenders (not attendees – no-one forced them to attend) at an illicit engagement party, worshippers at a proscribed religious service likewise incur my white-hot rage.

But my rage no longer satisfies. Why? Firstly, I have to distinguish between the act which I deplore and the actor. Further, I need to recognise that the deplorables are people, and what’s more they are people in the plural. They are my fellow citizens, these hundred who congregate to pray, thesethousands who block streets and provoke police officers. I can’t help wondering who these people are and reflecting on the honest thoughts and the genuine fears that prompt many of them to act in these harmful or misguided ways.

In my work I meet plenty who declare their certainty of conspiracy (big pharma, the government, George Soros – which means – wink, wink, nudge, nudge – the Jews). Others teach me the science; this week a seventeen-year old girl told me, ‘I know Pfizer impairs female fertility. I know I want to have children but I want to be safe from Covid too.’ (I told her I too had heard that report, but only here in Lightning Ridge, where I’m presently working, had I heard it. The remainder of female humanity doesn’t know what this child knew – and now unknows.) How can I deplore her for the primal fear of childlessness? What profit is there in contradicting those convictions that are religious in their depth?

The common theme among my patients is fear. It’s honest, sincere fear, invariably magnified and feeding on itself and its cesspool of ‘information’. How can we help frightened people by name-calling?

I have no respect for those people who decline vaccination and cry Apartheid! Their thinking is sloppy and they enjoy playing the victim. Less innocent too are those who behave lawlessly. But with the exceptions of the clearly malevolent minority (I include here members of bikie gangs, violent anarchists, Nazis earnestly working towards overturning democracy and restoring Whitest Australia), no-one gets up in the morning and asks, How can I do the most harm today? What is the most foolish trending opinion I can embrace?

Rather I see people who embrace such folly as attracted to the ‘glamour’ of free thinking, the ‘heroism’ of rebellion, the ‘courage’ of free speech. They evoke in me feelings that range from compassion (in my consulting room) to outright condescension (like the people of biblical Ninivehthey know not their right hand from their left).

But we are divided. We do discriminate between the vaccine-willing and the others. We grant freedoms to some and deny them to others. I can see no other choice, but I can see no long-term future in this discrimination. There is a limit to people’s acceptance of curtailment of their liberties. The fabric of community is only as strong as our leaders’ capacity to inspire.

Where are the inspiring leaders? They do exist. At the outset of the pandemic I held great fears for the most vulnerable communities in Australia. Even more than residents in Aged Care, I feared for outback indigenous communities. People who obeyed an ancient cultural imperative to wander through ancestral lands would surely catch and succumb to the virus, as they did in early colonial times to smallpox. But this did not eventuate. The traditional leaders, elders, listened to respectful advice that was appropriately conveyed. They became convinced and they carried conviction with their people. People listened, followed and were safe.

My friend Colin begs to differ. I’m pleased to oblige:

Howard. G’day and thank you for sharing.

To “deplore” is surely the most respectful way to demonstrate that one differs from another’s point of view.


Deplore – to express or feel deep grief in regard to.


In certain quarters this word came to be reviled after it was used to register dismay at public political rallies. The rallies became places where lies, insults, routine mocking of opponents and outrageous motivation of crowds chanting “lock her up” in respect of a political opponent who 5 years later has not been charged with anything. There was no crime.  This from a man who now has 16 Civil legal cases underway against him and a further 16 Criminal cases underway. A man who has instigated or influenced 60 appeals against an election result, all of the appeals dismissed, sometimes with a Judge’s comment, “don’t waste the court’s time, there is no evidence”. 


History teaches us such “leadership” emboldens ill informed and bigoted people to behave inhumanely. Seeing ill informed led astray, firstly to chant insults and later to attack the seat of Government leaves me weary, bewildered, numbstruck and sighing with grief. Politicising a virus is a masterstroke of machiavellianism.


It’s deplorable.

If we see a small child randomly pull blooms off flowers, or hurt a small brother, or for good measure swing the cat about by its tail and then tell lies, we rightly deplore it. And try to correct it. If in the process “our rage no longer satisfies” maybe it’s because we think our voice no longer counts and have given way to misinformation or that no one is listening. There are voices the misguided listen to. They are not by any stretch “reflecting on honest thoughts”. Rather they reflect on dishonesty of a spectacular nature. If these thoughts and actions are “religious in their depth” this is called heresy, not that I’d suggest burning at the stake. But failure to act in a firm manner gives leeway for deplorable behavior such as pissing on a shrine.  

Relying on people getting the correct message via the frightful spectacle of seeing grandma, a friend, neighbour or workmate suffocate to death with covid is not enough. Mandating compliance saves any argument(s). 

No jab, no footy. 

No jab, no coffee.

No jab, no Bali. 

No jab, no work. 


Doing so doesn’t mean “we grant freedoms to some and deny to others”. It’s not unlike the freedom to drive a car once learned and tested. And when that’s achieved other layers are added, such as wear a seat belt, don’t speed, and for heaven’s sake get off your phone while driving at 60kph and if you’re 15m aloft fixing the tiles put up a safety harness. Please. For a variety of reasons, one being it’s cheaper for society to do that than pay for a lifetime of care for a paralysed worker. This is not “discrimination” but boundaries for the greater good.

4 thoughts on “Deploring

  1. Amazing Howard. This brings a lot to the table and I read it a few times. Will continue to read it also, as I’m sure perspective is changeable.
    I think the central theme is fear. Full stop. Fear in every direction. Fear of being controlled, fear of being out of control. Fear of conforming, fear of not conforming. Fear of acting, fear of not actinig.
    When you take away these 3 things, security (job, finances), a sense of belonging (which all humans want), and love (opposite being discrimination), then a person must act on this tension. The tension is fear. How many recognise it for what it is?
    To act on this innate tension isn’t the choice of another, but the inherent choice to listen within, not outwardly. Is it fear they’re listneing to? Sitting or hanging out with this tension is hard for many people, as we percieve it as anxiety. But tension seeks resolution every time. In stillness and moments of silence we can fund the answers to solve the problems. Which is what a world have done to find the creative solution to a problem.
    If being vaccinated doesn’t fit your life. It’s not wrong, it’s not right. But when you have to get people to confrom, it threatens their personal choice or will to be self directed, have autonomy, have choice, as too does it threaten when they are under strict rules and consequences. Fear exists in it all. Until it doesn’t.
    As we define everything in our lives, is it up to each of us to define our actions for the greatest good of ourselves, or the greatest good of others? Surely serving your highest self brings the answers.
    But I am reminded of the power of persuasion, as Nazi Germany persuaded an entire people to hate on and discriminate against another people, slowly, over time, they were brain washed because they couldn’t choose for themselves. Because they were asleep. Just acting on the cues they were told; and aren’t words powerful. Like giving consequencs to a child. I see the same power being used now. Is it wrong? Hitler was wrong, he brought harm, but he didn’t believe he was wrong – not at all. Nor do our leaders believe they are wrong. Do they believe it’s for the greater good.
    The biggest thing that comes from fear in this is discrimination. And that is what we are living with. All the time. This virus is a virus of the soul. Calling on us to choose love. For ourselves and for others. The virus is hatred after all. So if we can embrace our fellow Man, and not feel seperate, but part of, as you have so eloquently explained; then the right path will present to the individual. The true path. The true choice. And one will not feel controlled, but empowered.
    I hope I made sense xxx


  2. Baeutifully written as always Howard! I think you are spot on about those attracted to anti-science/vax/mask sentiments – it’s hard not to get caught up in anger towards them, but a lot of them truly believe they have insights that the rest of us can’t see and it’s the romanticism of being an underdog hero against all odds and fighting the good fight (hence the use of Braveheart as a totem- FREEDOM!!!) It’s so sad when we know what’s in store for so many of them in the weeks to come


    • And – as you suggested- I think the base of it all is fear – fear that they don’t really understand whats happening, so they reject that its happening at all and fear that the the situation has rendered them powerless over their lives, so they try to take it’s (CV19) power away but denying its an issue. And the irony is they often say “Sheepies, wake up, stop being so fearful!” – when their fear is their driving force


Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s