What is the COVID Story in which we are compliant (or non-compliant) players?
In my initial reflections on the development of the global response to the pandemic I began to write observations on what I was seeing and learning as I personally processed fear, then curiosity, then incredulity here.
A year further-in indications seemed increasingly to point to the possibility that Covid public policy was extending to something more than covid management per se here.
Then with the advent in January 2021 of injectable mRNA means of reducing the severity of covid symptoms and the move to "health-passes" or vaccine passports, covid conversations become less theoretical and sometimes more difficult.
How then can we continue the important conversation about the global story in which we have become the unwilling and sometimes compliant, and sometimes non-compliant, players?
In some ways the Covid story since spring 2020 has been like the proverbial story of 5 blind men exploring an elephant, then telling others what an elephant is like. The blind men who felt the trunk, the big ears, the tree-trunk sized legs and the tiny tail all had different stories of what the elephant was like.
Likewise it's unsurprising - even though "we all in this together" - that our individual perceptions, and therefore our stories of what has been happening before our collective eyes, come out rather differently. Remarkably different, actually. So much so that relationships have been strained and even broken.
What then is the value of telling our story, i.e. our perception of what is the COVID Story in which we all are players?
It may be that, as we tell our personal story, we make progress in our hope to be understood. Allow me to open a window into a part of my soul which I believe is like that same part of your soul. At the depth of my relational being I desire to be understood. This is true despite the immense power of peer pressure in my own life and my need for social approval. Certainly I prefer to be agreed with or at least to be respected in if not for my views. But my deeper need is to be understood. This understanding may not be at the "seeing together" level. But perhaps it can be at the level at which another can see why I see the human experience as I do, whether the other person "sees" the elephant more like a trunk or huge ear or very rough skin. Perhaps together in this patient process we can "see" the elephant - or even Covid - more completely, despite it's size.
We bring ourselves to our process of perceiving, connecting the dots in some form or fashion and coming to see a picture. The "self" we bring to this complex process includes the degree to which - for whatever reason - we trust our own perceptions, authority, media, government and many other factors.
A part of who I am includes the stories of my parents of life under Nazi occupation in Europe in the previous generation. Our experiences, even vicariously through our parents, shape values - such as that of the individual in the hands of government or other forces even bigger than government.
Is there a back story?
As I listen to the perceptions of others I hear many describe a process in which governments are responding as best they can to a crisis which blind-sided us all. It's a story of authorities seeking to find their footing, treatments and appropriate public health policies in an ever changing sea of data and virus variants. Most people who see the story this way don't deny errors in hindsight but see such missteps as inevitable by those doing the best with what they have in hand while seeking the best for us all.
Others wonder. Certainly not that front line health care workers are working as hard as they always have. And not that good people in places of authority are trying to make sense of it all. But there is a curiosity about it all. Did the virus rise from gain-of-function research? What is the purpose of gain-of-function research? Why has the response to the virus focused from the beginning on the search for a vaccine rather than on public education regarding building up natural immune systems and early treatment? Why is one public policy road taken rather than another? How are these public policies evaluated? Essentially, many of these questions coalese into another question: is there more to the story, even a back story?
And how can we know?
Certainly knowing has become more difficult since the Trusted News Initiative aided by big tech censorship of views falling outside the parameters announced by big media on Dec 10, 2020.
Yet knowing isn't always limited to what authorities say or don't say. Sometimes actions speak as clearly as words. Ultimately actions advance towards goals and actions reveal goals.
Where is Coercion taking us?
Few actions in life can be as clear as coercion. Coercion cannot help but reveal the goals of power. These goals become apparent, regardless of words spoken, similar to basketball in which one does not watch the lips of the player with the ball but his or her direction of travel.
A foundational question to be pondered then at this point of history is this: Why has the most basic social contract of democratic societies - even in their emerging stages from the Magna Carta - involved the consent of those who participant? This principle, in humane societies, extends broadly:
The most important areas of consent, I would argue, would be the consent of the governed at the corporate level and informed consent at the level of personal health.
Is it unreasonable that growing numbers are concerned about coercion in government and medicine overwhelming the ethical principle of informed consent?
In the medical realm the the principle of informed consent was simply and profoundly articulated in The Nuremberg Code of 1947. This became necessary following wartime medical experiments conducted in the interests of science.
It is said today that the world is at war against the invisible enemy of a pandemic.
Why might we be concerned about coercion if we are promised it to be for a good cause?
If one trusts government always to work primarily for the good of ordinary people this question may not seem important.
Interestingly people like Christine Anderson, member of the European Parliament, already deeply involved in governmental affairs, being familiar with history and the inner workings of power, is not so certain:
(Sorry, Twitter doesn't allow streaming so please click here for a 2 minute clip.)
If indeed true, her claims are vitally important. She declares:
- humans have an intrinsic right to bodily integrity
- we have the right to take responsibility for our own health
- freedom is a gift given by God rather than a grace to be earned and granted by government in exchange for absolute compliance.
Is Christine Anderson right?
What are the danger marks on the Road to Fascism?
In the recent-past, government violations of such self-evident truths were seen as fascism, a fact recognized by Lena Belle of eastern European heritage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4G-19QB1Us
Where is such absolute compliance to government in exchange for a temporary vaccine passport likely to lead? Is the direction envisioned by one observer the direction you support? (Sorry, you'll need to download)
Some will argue the scenario depicted in this video to be speculative.
Sadly not. Rather it is confirmed and spelled out in polite language by the International Monetary Fund World Bank manager for development policy under the title "Inclusive Digital ID for a Resilient Recovery from COVID-19," or download.)
Some may see my thought progression as too quick to come to such broad conclusions. You may prefer the more nuanced analysis of Dr. Bruce Hindmarsh of Regent College, University of British Columbia. It is well worth your time and is available for download here.