Anyone who lived through the winter months of 1981 in New Zealand will recall how the country became, in a very short time, split down the middle, almost country versus city.
That was all over another country's terrible political system and rugby. New Zealanders loved their rugby in those days, maybe more than nowadays. Split enough to turn quickly to violence at any attempt to impede access to games or to allow games to proceed, depending on one's point of view.
For some of us it was a frightening time, living daily at the coalface of the conflict. It was a conflict, not an issue that most could ignore. Most everybody took a side, splitting families and friendships, sometimes forever.
The amount of hate generated within a very short time was a real eye-opener to me, a young police officer at the time. Normal decent people hated me, in their eyes and in their words. People from all walks of life.
Those hatreds remained post-tour. While at university in 1984, my human development professor often went out of her way to belittle me for being a cop. I was the only male in my class of mostly nurses, all adult students.
I had written a paper as part of my studies on the damage that could be done to the human body from rugby but from a rugby player's perspective. I got an A to be fair but was marked then not only a fascist pig but a rugby thug.
I just accepted it as that was what we did in those days. Not so some of my dear classmates. Fiery, educated, opinionated women sticking up for the lone male. Some had been very anti-tour but that was then, this is now.
Why am I telling you this tiny bit of social history?
Well, I see those same behaviours and the same anger and hatred arising again now, 40 years later - over a virus for goodness sake. Families and friends are now taking positions against one other, people who love each other, peaceful, clever people.
You see that is what fear does to us humans. It makes us really irrational, angry and suspicious. It may be something to do with the "fight or flight" instinct that we all have.
We move to a position and stick to it because it is the position we see that we believe will keep us safe. Most people will not be dissuaded. The more they are felt to be marginalised, the more they will dig deeper.
I agree with mandates and I believe these are for the "greater good", the protection of the vulnerable in our society by society. Humans have done this for millennia, united to face a common enemy - in this case, a virus not other people.
I also believe that we need to be compassionate towards each other. Fear is a terrible thing to live with and we are all different. We all feel it, from the ardent supporter of opening up the country completely to the compromised, fearful and ill who actually know what it is like to be seriously ill, maybe at death's door, and how life is very tenuous.
Yes, the vast majority of people who get Covid will eventually recover, occasionally with long Covid or life-long health changes as a result. But some will not. It's like a raffle but the prize is one that is not worth winning. No one actually knows if they will survive.
Covid is no respecter of age, robust health, social status or ethnicity. It will take any of us if we let it.
All very grim. This is a war, and war is not remotely amusing.
What to do? Well after losing control of a couple of discussions recently with people who are dear, long-time friends, but have a view different to mine, I have spent some time mending the fences. It is silly to lose friendships or even to become agitated with each other over this bug.
The only parallel with 1981 is really an issue that generates a lot of emotion, fear and anger. The rugby tour changed New Zealand in many ways but we really have not learned from the experience as a country. We still allow fear to dominate sometimes in our reactions and conversations.
New Zealanders are not "she'll be right", "happy-go-lucky" people at all. We are actually very much the opposite but spend enormous time and energy hiding it until something comes along that grinds our teeth.
We are a passionate people but we are also compassionate, thankfully.
I have decided to just respect others' viewpoints, not confront them. As I have said here before, the enemy is a virus, not a friend, work colleague, family member or some stranger that we see protesting.