Toward a Sane Conversation About Science, Morality, and Why We All Should Care
By Sarabeth Matilsky
When people tell me that Things Are Back to Normal and Covid Is Over, I find this interesting. It’s a mildly valid perspective: it’s not like the insanity illustrated by the covid response is anything really new under the sun, and so one might conclude that the past two years were simply an acceleration of all that was already underway. …And now, on to the next thing!
Except, “interesting” can only partly describe the global anti-health covid narrative that has especially hurt the poorest, sickest, and most vulnerable. We can politely debate the devastation wrought by lockdowns, the extreme regulatory capture of the agencies tasked with improving public health, the socially-divisive policies promulgated by corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, and executives, and the extreme censorship of persons asking perfectly reasonable questions.
But then there’s the suppression and deplatforming of doctors and researchers, whose “crime” was/is providing early treatment for covid patients (highly successfully, but only if you’re aiming to reduce hospitalizations and deaths), and measured critiques of the non-evidentiary policies supposedly justified by a treatable respiratory virus with a low CFR. And ultimately, we face the covid vaccine “safety” “testing”, approval, and mandates.
These mandates are best described as basic human rights violations, and they made zero sense from the very beginning, since whatever benefits these vaccines confer (if any), they do not prevent covid infection nor transmission.
The effects of medical coercion are only beginning to be felt, and the situation is anything but “over.” Social ostracizing of those who opted out of the shots is ongoing. Children and adults were suddenly excluded from activities, community gathering places, and friends’ homes, and even when these restrictions are dropped, it will take a long time to rebuild trust. Hundreds of thousands of people lost faith in public health when they were coerced to get vaccinated against their will, in order to keep their jobs when their religious exemptions were denied. And tens of thousands of people who refused to get the shots remain on “unpaid involuntary leave” at this very moment, denied the ability to make a living for their families.
And meanwhile, there is little compelling evidence that the vaccines have done anything at all to improve covid patient outcomes.
There is no society where coerced medical care should be aspirational or endorsed. Our governments’ participation in such coercion is shameful.
Why didn’t we rise up en masse against these mandates?
I mean, many people did. And I get it, revolutions are seldom successful, so I’m not criticizing anyone’s choice not to become a martyr. But at the very least, these travesties should be called out and discussed and repudiated at every turn. By all of us. And if you opted to get the vaccine, you should stand up for those who did not; it is a basic tenet of a free society that we should especially respect and preserve the basic rights of those with whom we disagree.
The only way I maintain even a semblance of calm these days, is that I DON’T believe all this is normal. What it is, perhaps, is common, in the face of chaos and stress.
As my Sweet Husband reminds me, on the bright side: there is a LOT of room for improvement.
I’m going to back up now, and discuss a few of the problems with the covid vaccine approval process and the covid vaccines themselves. As a reminder, I fully respect your right to draw different conclusions and/or to get the vaccine. Unlike in the case of medical mandates, the choice of whether or not to get jabbed should remain your own; however, there should be full disclosure and free discourse surrounding the issue so that our autonomy and choice are not corrupted by powerful economic, political, and corporate forces that at the very least do not care about our personal wellbeing. And actual “informed consent” has been largely absent from discussions surrounding the vaccine rollout in Legacy Media outlets and most doctors’ offices alike.
A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins Medical Center concluded that medical errors kill approximately 250,000 people a year in the United States and are the third leading cause of death:
John Ioannidis has dedicated his career to exposing the brokenness and corruption within the medical science community. Here is why this is relevant:
Here is Ioannidis’ original paper that has been shared around the world:
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, and Pharma focuses their global efforts on the USA for a good reason: corruption and bribery in US politics is legal, and has been for decades. This eye-opening video animates the results of a study done by researchers at Princeton University, illustrating how Big Pharma (among others) influences the very bedrock of our society (i.e. the laws and legislation with which we must comply):
I have noticed that the “peer reviewed” “science” published by reputable medical journals concerning the Fabulous Effects of Vaccines and Covid Policies In the Western World fall into two general categories:
1. Information collected or sponsored by Pharmaceutical Companies, that does not use symptoms or deaths to judge efficacy but rather any number of “effects” observed by lab analysis that are deemed to be a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. In other words, deaths and serious illness may remain clinically unchanged, while blood levels of a given biomarker indicate that the drug has “worked”; and/or
2. Information collected using the practice of “Epidemiological Modeling.” This basically involves adjusting variables to make assumptions about certain things in order to provide a simulation about what might happen in a given situation.
The problem with these two categories of information is that they easily create circular logic: Science Sponsored By Us Says That Covid Vaccines Work Well and have Few Side Effects, Because When We Model A Scenario In Which Our Vaccines Work Well and have Few Side Effects, Our Vaccines Work Well and Have Few Side Effects!
I could, for example, create a mathematical simulation wherein I become a millionaire over the course of this year, but it would be dishonest if I were to imply that there’s any chance at all that this will actually happen. And if you were wanting to verify the chances of me remaining solvent and being able to repay a loan, for example, why would you take my word for it?
Data from research like this is technically correct, and perfectly legal, but from the perspective of a person who cares about their health, the information is nearly useless. And for now we won’t even begin discussing the other ways in which data can be further manipulated in “scientific” ways.
At the very least, these types of data should be cause to conduct further research concerning _what is actually happening_ - formerly a common practice in epidemiology and public health, and something that countries like Sweden do all the time - in order to gain actionably useful information. These two types of data should NOT replace other types of scientific research, nor ever be reported in Legacy Media as “proof” that public health protocols are effective.
One of many problems with Big Pharma’s most recent attempts to rebrand secular religious ideology as “science,” is that now “Science Says” that all our blast-published headlines are true, because Pfizer et al plus Their Bureaucrats says they are:
“Our Made-Up Computer Modeling Shows That Pandemic Lockdowns Are The Best Approach For the Entire World, Until Our Vaccines Are Brought To Market!”
“Our Products are the Safest and Most Effective in the World, and Have Saved the Lives of Everyone Who Hasn’t Died Yet!”
“Don’t Try Any Other Treatment For Covid Except For Our Vaccines, Because We Say Those Other Treatments Aren’t Safe Or Effective.”
Go back and take a look at the original Imperial College simulation that predicted a massive number of deaths from covid that would occur if we all didn’t shut up, stay home, wear face masks, and wait for a vaccine. The orders were strange, untested, and backed up with zero evidence, and the flatten-the-curve-for-two-weeks that soon became two years was very, very misguided, for many reasons, but most fundamentally because the simulation was never grounded in what was actually happening - it plugged in variables to provide the answers it desired.
Let’s give them some benefit of the doubt: simulations have their place, and can inform further avenues of research. But just as I would be foolish to plan my budget around becoming a millionaire this year, it was extremely foolish to base global mitigations for an infectious disease on one guy’s epidemic modeling exercise favored by a few bureaucrats.
And then, of course, there are the problems with the vaccines themselves.
As has been widely discussed, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System collects information passively. A person experiencing an adverse event may report it to the system; required information that must be entered under penalty (fines or imprisonment or both) of federal law includes: date the vaccination was given, the route used, the vaccine manufacturer and lot number of the vaccine, the name and title of the individual who administered the vaccine, the VIS publication date, and the date the VIS was given to the patient or legal representative.
But after this, nobody is actively collecting or monitoring that data - at least, nobody in charge of making the vaccines or regulating them. And so, the rising number of anecdotes collected in VAERS concerning covid vaccines - cases of paralysis, neurological harm, disabling pain syndromes, troubling cancers, menstrual problems and miscarriages - millions of injuries and thousands of deaths - are all we have as “evidence” for vaccine risks even while deaths from covid remain stable and all-cause mortality is up around the world in vaccinated populations.
“But you anti-vaxxers are all the same! Relying on hearsay and doubts, you just keep talking about injuries and deaths from a drug that is proven to be Safe and Effective!”
Except, of course, vaccines are considered under the law to be “Unavoidably Unsafe,” which is why the vaccine manufacturers petitioned for and received complete liability protection (for all vaccines, not just the covid ones) several decades ago. When people are injured by vaccines, an entirely separate U.S. Court System is used to try the cases.
And this is because as far as it goes, vaccine enthusiasts are right: _the data isn’t there._ There has never been a randomized controlled vaccine safety and efficacy study - not for covid, nor for _any other vaccine._ There is no empirical proof that vaccines are NOT safe and effective for all - but likewise it is not possible to prove that they are, and simply ignoring the cases where people have been injured by vaccines is a strange way to respond to the fact that many peoples’ disabilities or deaths coincide with the injection of these drugs. (I might not like that my Uncle Alfred smokes cigarettes, for example, but it would be kind of strange for me to lecture him that his lung cancer diagnosis is all in his head.)
Meanwhile, however, there is _extremely_ sparse investigation into vaccine harms, even while the tragic stories simply accumulate in VAERS. It is truly shameful: the public health entities tasked with protecting us from “cures worse than the disease”, don’t do their jobs. It makes conducting an individual’s risk-benefit analysis for vaccines much more difficult to perform.
“But The FDA Monitors VAERS for ‘Safety Signals’! We’d know if these vaccines were unsafe, like with myocarditis…Right?”
Wrong. In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request this month, the FDA acknowledged that they have not been monitoring ANY covid vaccine adverse events reports AT ALL. That’s right. No notice has been paid to safety signals, not even the tiny bit of monitoring they implied they’d be doing back when the vaccines rolled out. Nope, they just injected billions of people with experimental gene therapy and let ‘er rip.
It’s easier to ignore that which you’re not looking for.
And it’s easier to apologize than it is to ask for permission.
…lipid nanoparticles, the tiny hard fatty casings that contain the MRNA, traverse the amniotic membrane. That means that they enter the fetal environment, of course. (They also traverse the blood-brain barrier, which may help explain the post-MRNA vaccination strokes and cognitive issues we are seeing).
…Volunteers have drilled deep into the Pfizer documents’ reports about pregnancy and found that the assurance that the vaccine is “safe and effective” for pregnant women, was based on a study of 44 French rats, followed for 42 days (the scientists who ran the study are shareholders or employees of BioNTech). https://dailyclout.io/covid-19-vaccines-pregnancy-risky-business/
[It was] found that while pregnant women were excluded from the internal studies, and thus from the EUA on which basis all pregnant women were assured the vaccine was “safe and effective”, nonetheless about 270 women got pregnant during the study. More than 230 of [their personal medical outcome paperwork was] lost somehow to history. But of the 36 pregnant women whose outcomes were followed, 28 lost their babies.
The mRNA vaccines were associated with an absolute risk increase of serious adverse events of special interest of 12.5 per 10,000 (95% CI 2.1 to 22.9). The excess risk of serious adverse events of special interest surpassed the risk reduction for COVID-19 hospitalization relative to the placebo group in both Pfizer and Moderna trials (2.3 and 6.4 per 10,000 participants, respectively).
Using nationwide hospital discharge and vaccine data, we analysed all 1612 cases of myocarditis and 1613 cases of pericarditis that occurred in France in the period from May 12, 2021 to October 31, 2021. We perform matched case-control studies and find increased risks of myocarditis and pericarditis during the first week following vaccination, and particularly after the second dose… The largest associations are observed for myocarditis following mRNA-1273 vaccination in persons aged 18 to 24 years. Estimates of excess cases attributable to vaccination also reveal a substantial burden of both myocarditis and pericarditis across other age groups and in both males and females.
FOIA document from the Nova Scotia Office of the Deputy Minister Health and Wellness Department, dated June 1, 2022: https://openinformation.novascotia.ca/FOI-Requests/2022-00662-HEA/dayz-…
The document shows that COVID-19 injectable product use has a dose response: more doses = more cases = more hospitalizations = more deaths. Easy enough to understand.
…Let’s count ‘cases’ as a marker of effectiveness of the products. If these COVID-19 injectable products were effective at lowering transmission rates, then the frequency of reporting of cases would decrease with increasing distribution of the products. What we see clearly from this data that was Freedom of Information Requested - NOT offered freely for the public to see - is that the frequency of case reports is proportionally related to the dose → more doses = more cases. This is the definition of an ineffective product with regard to reduction of transmission and is a FAILED ‘VACCINE’.
…[finally] let’s count ‘deaths’ as the worst outcome of a product that is meant to promote longevity, vitality and health. What we see from the absolute counts, (note that the death data is more sparsely populated that the case and hospitalization data), is that the number of deaths is proportionally related to dose → more doses = more deaths.
I recently performed in a musical theater production of “Cabaret.” My character - an older, world-weary German woman living in Berlin - falls in love with a German Jewish man on the eve of Kristallnacht, 1938. As their relationship deepens, the Nazis’ influence grows. Toward the end of the show, while she watches friends begin to turn against each other and authoritarianism rising, she is devastated - and calls off the engagement.
Every night of the show, I cried on stage for real, finding compassion for my character in all her humanity.
“Cabaret” is a brilliant musical, and of course it is also flawed. Represented in its complex character list is a young and naïve American who gradually realizes the atrocities about to occur; a talented, self-centered, and broken English nightclub singer; and a middle-aged Nazi recruit who is a closeted homosexual.
There are many stories about those persons in Nazi Germany who were brave enough to help their fellow Jewish (Catholic, gay, dissident) countrymen, hiding or smuggling them to the border in the face of tightening Nazi control. This Hero character has been featured in other stories about the holocaust, and is not present in “Cabaret.”
I kept noticing that there was one major missing character represented, which is that of the Good German: those German (and arguably other countries’) citizens who, while not exactly condoning the situation, nevertheless made it possible for Hitler to proceed. These Good Germans did what they were told, followed the rules, tried to avoid attracting attention, and turned in their neighbors to the authorities when push came to shove.
I can’t seem to muster much compassion for Good Germans, although intellectually this seems important to do.
I also wonder if my character in “Cabaret” actually comes closer to being a Good German herself than I thought at the time. How much does emotional devastation coupled with Following The Rules differ from just plain old Following The Rules?
I’ve never been through the middle stages of societal collapse before. But even if we disagree about whether society is collapsing, certain things remain true. Forcing people to do what you want isn’t science. Collecting people who agree with you and censoring those who disagree isn’t science. And mandating a vaccine for participation in work and social activities, and scapegoating people who don’t get that vaccine, is definitely not science either.
I do understand that for many, the costs of dissenting from the bizarre covid narrative over the past two years have been and continue to be much higher than they are for me. And yet there is an idealistic teenager still within me, who remembers sitting around with other idealistic teens as we made our high-stakes declarations in service to Saving The Earth and All Humanity while Being Really Good People: never would we stand idly by while watching nearby injustice in this world! Whether sexism, racism, ecological destruction, or any other -ism, we would stand UP and speak out!! It went without question that pushing back against tyrannical government and corporate overreach would be the Thing To Do, since we all at various times attended various political protests and felt quite virtuous. We all knew that if we were in Harriet Tubman’s neighborhood during Black Slavery, or in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, we would have been the ones to speak out against injustice, to protect our Black or Jewish (Catholic, gay, dissident) neighbors, and remember that what could happen to them, could happen to us.
….It is not widely known that [the holocaust] was triggered in no small part by alleged public health concerns and Germany’s obsession with disease and fear of epidemics. More specifically, there was a fanatical fear of typhus spreading to the German people and its army, given its previous impact as the cause of 5 million deaths after WWI. This was the pretense given by the Germans for the relocation of Jewish victims en masse into isolated closed ghettos and camps in wartime Europe. However, the same fear of epidemics was also a pretext used by the Germans as justification to liquidate ghettos, including their residents.
Initially, the Germans did not even want to establish ghettos because these were considered to be nourishing ground for infections. However, the German discourse on hygiene was very much influenced by the anti-Semitic idea of Jews being notorious bearers of diseases. In the Nazis’ ideology, this evolved into Jews being the actual disease, so epidemics were to be naturally expected and dealt with, which in the end meant annihilating the Jews. Of course, hygiene was only one pretext driving Nazi anti-Semitism; but it played an important part in propaganda efforts to justify anti-Jewish hatred and politics in this period before the industrial killings.
By October 1941, when an epidemic was raging in the Warsaw Ghetto, Jost Walbaum, the Chief Health Officer of the General Government (Occupied Poland) infamously made the accusation: “The Jews are overwhelmingly the carriers and disseminators of typhus infection. … There are only two ways [to solve this]. We sentence the Jews in the ghetto to death by hunger or we shoot them…. We have one and only one responsibility, that the German people are not infected and endangered by these parasites. For that, any means must be right”.
These words were followed by applause and clapping from 100 attendees, mostly medical doctors. Previous to this, SS General Heydrich, the main architect of the Final Solution, specifically requested that the chief SS physician initiate an epidemic in Warsaw Ghetto to exterminate the Jews. In addition, the highest German administrative authority in the General Government, Governor General Hans Frank, alleged in 1943 that the genocidal murder of 3 million Jews in Poland “was unavoidable for reasons of public health”.
These are obvious cases of disease being used as a weapon of war and pretexts for genocide. Today, more than ever, society needs to grasp how a virus or bacterium can create utter havoc, dragging humankind to this terminal point of evil.
This article is worth reading in its entirety. It reminds us that diseases, including covid, do not exist in a vacuum. “Mysteriously,” epidemics tend to be much worse during wartime. Just as covid is rarely deadly without comorbidities, typhus requires weakness to kill its victims as well. Before the massive die-offs in the Warsaw ghetto began, residents had been reduced to living in filth, with poor hygiene, overcrowding, and eventually very cold weather. Then, they were subjected to severe “food shortages,” at which point the severely weakened residents truly did begin dropping like flies.
Over the past couple of decades, after my idealistic teenage friends and I became grown-ups, we would periodically revisit our hopes and dreams and ideals. And nothing much changed during these years, for any of us, as far as I could tell, except the details. At the end of the day, despite my very strong opinions on most things, I believe that you do you. And that’s what we all were doing - the work of navigating this crazy world, making difficult choices along the way, different ones for each of us.
Then came last September, when covid vaccine mandates began coming down around the world, most especially and politically in the USA. And I couldn’t believe my eyes: people whose politics and morals I had always respected were actually supporting the requirement of vaccination for work and social inclusion. Some were incorporating mandates into their own social spheres! Politicians fell into a bizarre lockstep and couldn’t take it upon themselves to read basic scientific literature, and took their massive payoffs from Pharma while mandating experimental medical treatments for all - but only if you wanted to keep your job, of course! Friends told me that they were Following the Science, and they were extremely disappointed that I had not Seen The Light personally and followed suit.
I could go on and on, but you were there, and at the very least you experienced the government-sponsored articles in Legacy Media concerning Safe and Effective Covid Vaccines, The Epidemic of the Unvaccinated, those Selfish Anti-Vaxxers Who Want to Kill Their Own Grandparents, and those Crazy Nuts Who Are Clogging Up the Hospitals with Their Alternative Therapies.
I couldn’t believe the number of friends who said things like, “I’m too tired/busy/bored/traumatized. I don’t have the energy to research these things. I don’t know what my covid risk is, but it is an incredibly dangerous disease, and this is a pandemic! It’s Real, you know! The Science Says These Vaccines Are Safe! Plus, I don’t like reading scientific stuff. I’m not a doctor/politician/Expert. If there were problems with the vaccines, we’d hear about them. And these vaccines are helping, I read it in the news and it’s a Scientific Consensus, and I got jobbed and I didn’t die at ALL! Are you anti-science? Vaccines have been proven not to cause autism, you know! Even though I know mandates aren’t super cool, it’s just what you gotta put up with in this world. This way people understand what’s required. People who don’t vaccinate take other risks I don’t agree with, so this way those risky behaviors are weeded out. Those people losing their jobs, they can just submit religious exemptions anyway. ….Oh, their exemptions got denied and they lost their jobs? Well, they can always go work somewhere else. I’ve got a lot on my plate so I’m done thinking and talking about this now.”
Admittedly, I was unable to change the course of vaccine mandates despite daily (involuntary) bouts of anger and frustration, writing dozens of carefully-worded letters, and calling my congressperson. But enormous convoys of skilled truck drivers weren’t able to change the course paved by Big Pharma, either. What can anybody do, after all, in the face of tyranny?
Well, we CAN point out that the emperor wears no clothes. Over and over and over again we can do this. We are still allowed to talk to each other, even while social media shuts us down. The point of speaking up is not only to describe the emperor’s obvious lack of clothes, but so that other people know we know, and so that ultimately, other people know that LOTS of other people know that we ALL mostly know that the guy is freaking naked. Awareness is contagious.
But when those mandates came down last year, in addition to being frustrated and angry, I was flabbergasted. For the first time in my life, I found myself losing respect for dear people, good and kind people, and not because we disagreed about whether or not to choose the vaccine, or any of a billion details relating to this, but because they became Good Germans. They did not stand up and they did not speak out against these unconstitutional mandates. In some cases, they stepped into positions of enforcing them. Maybe this was all a bad dream? Maybe just a temporary nightmare??
My friends and I had always had that intellectual discussion about how important it would be to Stand Up Against Injustice, but we’d never explicitly discussed what Standing Up looks like. Or what to do when some of us who promised to stand up, Didn’t - even for each other.
Are our various elected and unelected officials equal to the Nazis in their desire for power and control? That remains to be seen, just like it still remained to be seen in Warsaw in 1938 and 1941.
Effective "public health measures” involve cooperation, examination, and discussion, and should not be top-down requirements in order for individuals to keep his or her job or social standing. When a “state of emergency“ gives unprecedented executive power to a very few individuals and bypasses most of the imperfect safeguards we the people have on attempts at democracy, those who wield this power should be held to the highest scrutiny and transparency. When official edicts demand that people isolate and disconnect from certain other groups of people, these edicts should be rejected entirely as crimes against humanity. When any “public health“ official uses the rhetoric of scapegoating, tribal politics, and censoring unacceptable beliefs in lieu of engagement and discourse, they are unqualified to serve. “We’re in an epidemic of the unvaccinated.” “Vaccines are the best way to prevent the spread of covid.” “Anti vaxxers are selfish/grandma killers/insert_your_favorite_derogatory_term_here.” “Vaccines keep you safe.” “Anyone who disagrees is anti science!”
This is not science. This is the behavior and language of hatred and mobs.
Here in my one particular human experience, I am dangerously close to losing faith in all facets of government, not to mention many other persons and smaller organizations I used to trust implicitly. The only governmental institution I can think of that I support without question are public libraries - and even some libraries were compelled to enforce masks and vaccine mandates.
Tyranny is not a binary proposition, and the past two years have provided plenty of signals to trigger skepticism and action.
And the popular tide is starting to turn, especially in other western nations. For now. And only as far as the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex will grudgingly let it…until their next lucrative vaccine/drug opportunity presents itself. If these scapegoating executives and politicians and ringleaders were my children, I would be making damn sure they understood the impact of the crimes they have perpetuated before beginning the long road back to rebuilding any semblance of trust, if trust becomes warranted.
When the scapegoating persons used to be my friends…I honestly remain flabbergasted. And I suppose I simply wait, for indications of wakefulness, for rejection of dangerous allegiances.
Sometimes I can imagine holding space for forgiveness in between some tidal waves of grief.
But sometimes I can’t imagine it, not yet.
All this very human behavior, still I believe, just isn’t normal - unless the fall of an empire is something we want to normalize, I guess.
"I dislike what I witnessed during Covid, particularly in what it revealed about the minds of those around me. What I believed were commonly-shared ideals of liberalism, humanity, critical thinking, universal rights, and constitutionalism were revealed to be little more than the modern trappings of sycophancy - fashion statements popular among contemporary elites only to be jettisoned as soon as the rich men who funded their employers, peers, and influencers decided that they were no longer convenient.
"We were told that war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. But worst of all, our own friends and peers were told to ostracize and vilify us if we did not do as we were told - and far too often, they did as they were told."
“Everything in our society has converged towards making people feel different from each other, disconnected from each other, and polarized towards each other. The tragic thing about all of this is that we (the 99%) share the majority of our values with each other, but the system continually antagonizes us to identify with conflicting mental ideas so we can never come together as brothers and sisters.”
Maybe the gifts from this time have yet to present themselves fully (apart from the obvious gifts of those friendships and relationships that are more sustaining and deep than ever).
A former participant in Milgram’s experiments wrote to him later (this man, along with fully 84% of the study participants, reported gratitude for being part of such influential research that arguably did more than anything to help us more fully understand our innately human tendency to obey authority):
“While I was a subject in 1964, though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority ... To permit myself to be drafted with the understanding that I am submitting to authority's demand to do something very wrong would make me frightened of myself ... I am fully prepared to go to jail if I am not granted Conscientious Objector status. Indeed, it is the only course I could take to be faithful to what I believe. My only hope is that members of my board act equally according to their conscience…”
In my own selfish corner, and at this moment, the loss of trust I used to have for so many people, both known and unknown to me, feels like a tectonic shift in my perception of humans and human nature in general. It has radically changed my former belief that all people are governed by a naturally similar moral code. Or maybe, it’s simply this: I no longer believe that most people can stand up against authoritarianism while navigating the pressures of this modern world. Massive rebellion did not happen during the era of black slavery, nor did it happen during the holocaust. Scattered small rebellious acts happened all over, but not enough to change the course of governments until the governments found reasons to move on. And I have yet to understand what that means.
Lately I listen in on discussions between academics, doctors, attorneys, and other thinkers who are interested in understanding some of what’s going on in the world in order to share information, discover truths, and build community. Even when no action steps present themselves, they help me not curl up into a sobbing ball of helpless victimhood (at least, not too many times per day).
“I’m still trying to decide how far is OK to go in terms of participating in open discussions vs. associating with what I believe is harmful fringe craziness. "My" side did horrible things around Covid that I am now dedicated to exploring and exposing because I believe one’s first responsibility is to critique oneself and one’s closest allies, not one’s opponents who are always easy to target/vilify. I try to hold myself and those with very different ideologies from mine to the same basic standards, which I think are necessary in order for all of us to enjoy as much freedom as possible in a safe and violence-free environment: Just as I expect Republicans of moral and intellectual integrity to renounce a lot of the horrible things Trump and his supporters did, so I expect myself and my former fellow tribe members to examine our own actions and behavior and criticize/condemn when necessary.”
“I’m a pre-pandemic liberal democrat (but a Western one who hunts, so it's complicated), and I also struggle with finding the right forum for intellectual engagement. On one hand, there's need for forceful pushback against an extraordinarily myopic, unrepresentative, closed-minded, spiteful, and powerful coterie of people in epidemiology & public health driving discussions in a way that is not reflecting science so much as their own political ideals and aspirations. On the other hand, I don't want to become similarly closed-minded, spiteful and more.
“I think there's a real opportunity to expand - many people lost their tribes during COVID, and it seems like every political dispute in the US increases the diversity of our country's and our free world's mosaic of political attitudes and beliefs. To recruit them, and ensure we're not as bad as the blind partisans they left, I think we have more to gain from being unfailingly compassionate and impeccably rational. After all, the trope keeping many in their bubbles is that the "other" side is hateful and idiotic, so insofar as we're indisputably loving and smart we can better upset these bubbles. Some people have interviewed me anticipating me to be some foaming-at-the-mouth libertarian (not that libertarian is bad, or that I'm not somewhat libertarian), only to find that I'm above all rational, empathetic, and humanitarian.”
…The enormity of what we're facing seems difficult to process. Inflation matters also because if they can bankrupt everyone, they can coerce them into anything also. That's why this is a multi-pronged fight and it's about the incentive structures that have been set up that are encouraging the genocide.
It's also why we need to conserve our energies. You know all about that. Unfortunately, I'm a little more pessimistic than you in some ways. This poison nightmare (Big Ag and Big Pharma poisoning) has been building for decades and there's no end in sight. How many people do they need to kill and disable before the population wakes up?
I keep hoping it all crashes to the ground but it just keeps going, and I don't know what to do with that. Sometimes I think there will never be an awakening or a reckoning, and we'll just be here like hermits trying to live our own lives amidst the chaos around us. That's a lot how I feel at the moment, with so many others personally taken from me in this genocide over the decades, it becomes very disempowering at times.
That's a little how I feel now, actually. I hope I'm wrong, and you're right…
You don’t have to be miserable, and you have much more agency over your own life than your wrong beliefs about yourself and the world allow you to see.
There is no virtue in suffering, and it is cruel to yourself and others to pretend otherwise.
Your politics should never be your coping mechanism, and your coping mechanisms should never be your politics.
And also, seriously: don’t ever let someone abuse you a second time. The first time is fully on them, but the second time is also on you. Get out of there, no matter the cost.
Many have heard of “The Nazi Hunter,” Simon Wiesenthal. He’s famous for tracking down Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust and bringing them to justice. Fewer know of Wiesenthal’s wrestling with the conundrum of justice versus forgiveness.
The beginnings of his inner struggle are documented in his 1969 book The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. The author tells of when he was a Polish-Jewish concentration camp prisoner, assigned as an orderly, disposing of medical and human waste at a German field hospital.
Unexpectedly, a young SS soldier, near death from his wounds, summons Wiesenthal to his bedside. He proceeds to confess all his trespasses, including aiding in the murder of 300 Jewish women and children who had been herded into a house, set ablaze, and gunned down when they tried to escape the hellish flames.
This German soldier seeks forgiveness from a Jew.
His final words to the prisoner are, “I know that what I am asking is almost too much for you, but without your answer I cannot die in peace.” Mentally dazed from malnutrition, cruel treatment, and the surreal nature of this confession, Wiesenthal is dumbfounded as to what to say or do. In the end, he says nothing, leaves the room, and spends the rest of his life wondering what he should have done.
First asking his prison mates, then professional colleagues, and finally thinkers around the globe from every walk of life, Simon Wiesenthal spent decades in a relentless quest to understand forgiveness. The result is The Sunflower. There he documents the many responses to the questions that tormented him…
Should he have forgiven the dying soldier?
What could he have even said that would absolve the man’s guilt?
Does a Nazi murderer, though sorrowful, even deserve forgiveness?
Can you forgive a crime that was not against yourself, but against others?
What about justice--wouldn’t forgiveness undermine justice?
But couldn’t he at least have tried to help a desperate man die in peace?
Throughout history, flowers burst from the most unlikely places, and people have overwhelming capacity for fun and fascination and humor and love.
Right now I vacillate between acknowledging all that, and grieving what may be a loss of something like innocence. I aim to go forward in peace, to do what is right, to keep my compassion muscles exercised.
But first I am trying to remember how to cry.