by Nowick Gray



In the 2014 dystopian action film Divergent (PG-13), a postwar future world enforces a division into five factions. Spoiler alert for fans of the Covid Era, the army and police (the Dauntless), are mass injected with a chemical that subjects them to control by the Erudites, vying for a takeover of power. While the ruling faction of the old normal is benevolent in the mold of good old liberal social democracy, circa 2014, the Erudites aim to wipe them out (via the zombified Dauntless troops) and install a technocratic regime. To ensure public peace and safety, these new controllers also feel the need to target and hunt down any challengers of the system, the renegades called Divergents.


Needless to say, at the end the film the outcome shows the stereotypical flight from the city by the two teen heroes (he and she), to the wild and desolate lands beyond the Wall… presumably to join the Resistance—in today’s simulation, the Unjabbed.

Despite the struggle between factions, there is one operating mantra common to all: Faction before blood. So we see families torn by their caste allegiances, and the triumph of social ideology over kinship and friendship. “Human nature is the enemy” according to the Erudites, who by their own nature claim to know what is best for everyone. WEF Fuhrer Klaus Schwab, Israeli egghead Yuval Harari, or transhumanist Ray Kurzweil couldn’t have voiced that confession any more succinctly.


If the Hollywood screenwriters have their say, the social science is settled and the only hope for humans lies in returning to the forest—packing remnants of military hardware, reflective mylar capes to hide from infrared-tracking drones, and some dauntless drive never to give up.

Personally, I don’t think the Avatar-style shootout in the woods is the way to go, even with all of Gaia’s helpers. But with cape and bugout kit handy, there’s no going back to the urban matrix, the collective control grid, with its compliant subjects already denatured of their humanity.


The Silence of the Lambs

No, this is not another film review. But it follows a dystopian script, set in 2022, at an otherwise idyllic Northwest retreat center. Our hero arrives having paid his hefty deposit, with the terms and conditions accepted: for this week of Mindfulness Meditation, masks are “recommended.”

To each his own, thinks the hero: My body, my choice. But when he arrives, the front desk informs him the face rag is mandatory. He takes a deep breath… perhaps his last one unfiltered for the next ten days. Taking notice of the indignation raising his pulse, he finally negotiates a compromise. He will tuck his bandana over his nose when entering or leaving the hall.

During sessions the meditation room will be packed full of fifty masked Covidians—mindful of everything, one presumes, but the impact of the mask on each breath: oxygen deficit, increased viral load, harmful levels of once-demonized CO2. Nowhere in this realm of clear mind is there space for any of the 150 comparative studies and articles on mask ineffectiveness and harms.



For the first three days, our hero’s monkey mind revolves around the issues at stake with this muffled breathing, in, out. Safety versus freedom, truth versus politics, the individual versus the herd. There are no gurus in this spiritual practice, handing out dictates from on high. It’s just the leaders of the retreat, and the retreat center itself, following new normal mask policy, acting out of “an abundance of caution”—in compassionate consideration of the traumatized mindset of the paying clientele. Finally the resisting mind comes to relax, exhausted by its own struggle against What Is.


Perfection is within our grasp, if we only pause in the stillness, and accept our condition, witnessing the innumerable forces at play upon our unchanging nature, tempting us to get all worked up. In such a state of knowing, the mask is but a mask. The inner mask falls away. The mandates are but mental constructs.

By day six, our former, repressed rage has evaporated, and we can now take refuge in the measured rhythm of the breath. The world at war with itself is a perpetual motion machine, a theatre of the ego. As we attend to the stale taste and fetid warmth of our self-saturated breath, we go deeper into the Void. The cure, we have come to accept, is not to rip the mask away, not to shout at the injustice and deceit of the whole charade, but to accept our fate, comply with the container of our enlightenment, and retreat further within.

On day nine, thoughts of the future intrude: the end of the retreat, the conversations that will ensue when speaking is allowed again. We wonder If our heart will start to race once more at the very mention of that hyper-politicized word, Freedom. No, the next breath tells us, we can abide and keep our silence when the fifty Covidians around us start the program loops running again: The experts are keeping us safe. The CDC is our friend. The WHO is endorsed by the Dalai Lama. Bill Gates is a philanthropist. Our elected officials deserve our trust. The public health authorities are divine beings of infinite worth just like ourselves.

On day ten, while the dining hall is alive with renewed chatter over the closing meal, our hero takes his plate outside and sits on the steps, removing the limp bandana and breathing deep of the clear island air. Reflecting on the overall experience of the retreat, his mind opens to a final insight, on behalf of the fifty Covidians; as if he is channeling the collective wisdom they have embodied: When the Buddhists say, “Meditate on death,” what better way to do so than with eyes closed, mouth masked, and ears encased in the silence of the tomb?

For our Divergent hero, this voluntary muzzlement of the self is indeed instructive as a ten-day reminder of our ultimate insignificance. He also knows that going from here back to the world, it is no way to live. To maintain true mindfulness, he realizes, Divergence is the way to go.




In Covid Narrative Remix: Two Years of Dissent, Nowick Gray critiques the global agenda with the voice of the natural human spirit. These compiled articles from The New Now/Agora (2020-2022) shed light on the narrative sabotage carried out as the primary strategy of the war on humanity. Against that weapon of moral destruction, pen turns to sword in the ongoing battle for truth and freedom.

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Nowick Gray is a regular contributor to The New Agora and also offers perspectives and resources for alternative culture and African drumming. Subscribe to his Substack (New World Dreaming) or visit his  writings website at



image credits:

(feature) lunatics: Bob Moran
Divergent: IMDB
apple: Dr. Robt. Malone substack
sheep: anonymous
masks: twitter
Yoda: meme by Nowick Gray





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