Fire conspiracies

Fire conspiracies

A new wave of conspiracy theories and fear is swelling in the wake of the successive devastating wildfires of recent days. According to these conspiracy theories, “foreign agents” and undocumented migrants are to blame for the wildfires, instead of the negligence, the imprudence, the oversights and mistakes of the state’s agencies, and the malice of certain individuals.

We know that 96% of fires are started by people. It seems that a tendency is forming to deny elements of reality, to blame foreigners and supposed provocateurs for everything that happens in a world exposed to a succession of rapid escalations and sudden disaster.

A conspiracy theory arranges things in an unorthodox order, offers one-dimensional answers to complex issues, assures that the problem is not intractable, broad or deep enough to require the maximum effort and positive input of all, but is, instead, the creation of the country’s enemies.

Fear, an internal reaction mechanism to the anxiety generated by the confrontation with a threat, keeps us alert, saves us. But irrational fear, being trapped in a state of constant insecurity and paralyzing uncertainty, makes people manipulable by all kinds of populists who manufacture demons.

Conspiracy theories gnaw at joint efforts to overcome the crisis, they sap energy, divert concerns and thoughts from the immediate subject, trap societies in a backward slide. They are a bane. But the fortresses erected by absurdities are very durable.

In general, it is a titanic task to manage the pressures that major disasters exert on societies, testing their resistance to the unexpected and exposing phobias. It is an arduous task to settle suspicions – claims that “nothing is as it seems,” and that “there are secret, malicious agendas” at play – challenges to experts and the state and government.

The country did well in the pandemic because it acted in a timely and organized manner. In dealing with the fires, the country counts defeats, and now it needs to fight back to regain the trust of its citizens. At the same time, the world is thirsty for examples of stability, guarantees of security. All those in charge have to do is show that they can act, that they are present.

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