An act of choosing between two or more possibilities
As we know, since this pandemic began, the definition of a lot of things has changed. Vaccines no longer immunise, they merely protect you (thank you, CDC). Now Merriam-Webster have changed their definition (or maybe they created it as I have had no need to look this term up prior to 2020) of an “anti-vaxxer” as a person who opposes the use of vaccines or regulations mandating vaccination. Accordingly I am a proud anti-vaxxer. And I believe a lot of people who are vaccinated against Covid would also define themselves as anti-vaxxers, because so many people I know who received the vaccine didn’t want it and are angry and vehemently oppose having been mandated to do so.
I am not even going to clarify my position as so many who speak out against these mandates do, to say that I am fully vaxxed, received my childhood vaccinations blah blah. I do understand why they do so. They want to be seen as reasonable, intelligent people who have done their own research and are not anti-vaccination per se, but anti this particular vaccination. It may prevent a reader from swiping right early into their speech or their article dismissing them as a tin foil hat wearer, conspiracy theorist, granny-killer. Well I assure you I am a reasonable, intelligent person who has done my own research and I am anti this vaccination (for myself) and whatever other vaccinations I have had or haven’t had is my own business and irrelevant. I am also against it for people I am responsible for (i.e. my non-adult children). As for anyone else, freedom of choice is my stance. Live and let live. This writing is not to convince anyone not to get vaccinated. It’s to talk about this dilemma people are now facing, probably for the first time in their lives, about whether they want this vaccine and the ramifications of their choice.
There are probably many more groups than I represent here but I will just discuss this in regard to the people I know personally. This is in no way a scientific classification of any kind but merely my own observation. I have no idea the proportion of the population that would be in each group.
This group was given every childhood vaccination themselves and subsequently gave every childhood vaccination to their kids. (Not saying this is a bad thing but it did set us all up for compliance from the outset.) They were frightened by the prospect of becoming very sick and dying of Covid, did not question the narrative about safe and effective vaccines and lined up for the shot as soon as it was available to them. Unless they experienced vaccine side effects and I’m very sorry for anyone reading this if that is the case, this group breathed a sigh of relief and now speaks to others about how the shot was “nothing” and everyone should get it to do their bit for society so we can all get on with our lives. They will line up for every booster and probably get their kids jabbed as well. People from this group now refuse to read anything against this narrative, are scared of the unvaccinated and think mandates are absolutely essential for the good of society. They wear masks everywhere, sometimes when driving by themselves. Extremists from this group approve of denying medical care to the unvaccinated and wish death upon them. I’m not exaggerating there are really people like this.
As per group 1, but this group did do a bit of research themselves and were a little bit hesitant but overall the fear of Covid won out over their vaccine hesitancy and they got the shot. They are kind of annoyed with themselves that they did but what’s done is done. Talk about boosters makes them a bit uncomfortable.
As per group 1, but this group just wanted their freedom back and were told that getting vaccinated would achieve that. A lot of younger people are in this group. Many were locked down for substantial periods of time, separated from their friends and their social life and just wanted to “get back to normal”. They’d heard about the vaccine maybe having some nasty side effects but assumed it wouldn’t happen to them and decided to take pot luck and get it. This group doesn’t relish the idea of boosters but will probably capitulate if they are threatened with lockdowns again.
As per group 3, they complied with the initial jabs with the promise of getting back to normal. That never happened and now they are being pushed into boosters. They don’t want the boosters. They are starting to realise the merry-go-round they climbed onto and they don’t want to be getting boosters for the rest of their lives. This group is starting to see the holes in the narrative and wondering about moving to group 5. They want to go back to normal. Not a new normal. The old normal. It’s becoming obvious that vaccination is not going to deliver this. Freedom and human rights arguments are starting to appeal to them. They may join protests.
Regardless of personal previous vaccine history, this group are quite concerned about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and even question the need for them. They are by and large healthy, mostly not elderly, and at very low risk of becoming severely ill or dying from Covid. If they truly had their choice they would choose not to be vaccinated. However, they are being mandated by their employer (or indeed the government eg. Austria). This is the group I have the most empathy for and will discuss further below. Because there is no good choice for this group. Either capitulate and get it and every other booster your employer deems necessary in the future. Or refuse, possibly be terminated, and not able to put food on the table for your family a.k.a coercion. This group organises the protests.
This group doesn’t want it, won’t get it and isn’t mandated. Yet. They wait and wait for society to come to its senses and for the narrative to fail. They despise the politicians and the laws that have so destroyed their existence and made their lives one of restriction. They despise how the pandemic has exposed a terrible side of a lot of people whom they once called friends. Or family. They are sad that the future they had planned out will now not eventuate. They sometimes wake up in the morning in disbelief that this is their new reality. They are vaguely considering withdrawing all their savings from the bank and putting it under their mattress and ditching their smart phone. They have begun to question anything and everything they read. They distrust politicians, the media and the government. They turned off the news. They do not wear masks or QR code at venues. If they could they would go and live in a caravan off the grid and away from people. They could maybe forget about the evils being done to the people of the world right now. Some of them have been separated from their partner for over 2 years because of international travel bans. Some choose to speak out about it all. Ok. I will come clean, this is me. I am 6. At the moment. 5 is looming as my employer debates whether to mandate.
So to the 5’s of the world. And really, all the other groups too. I am sorry. I am sorry the world is like it is. I am sorry this is so unfair. I am sorry governments are taking away your rights. I am sorry people lack empathy. I am sorry the world has lost its collective mind. You should not be faced with a mandate for an experimental medical procedure that could potentially harm you with no recompense to you from your employer, the government or the vaccine manufacturer. I am sorry you have to make a choice of whether to provide for your family or submit to a vaccination you don’t want. I am sorry.
However. As much as I am in disbelief over what’s happening let’s discuss the choices for this group.
Choice 1. You agree to the mandate and get vaccinated. To me, this choice has the worst personal consequences. I’m not saying it’s the worst choice, I have no judgement on this choice. But I say it’s the worst because you don’t want the vaccine, don’t feel you need it, are worried about being harmed and are still forced to get it. You know in your soul that it’s wrong that you even have to make this choice and you want to stand up for freedom and human rights and wave the Braveheart banner, but you can’t and so you feel you’ve sold a part of your soul and betrayed the “cause”. You think maybe you “should” be trying to make your own business landscaping or handyman-ing or making candles so that you can say no to this tyranny. You should be trying harder to find an alternative. You agonised over the decision as long as you could. You examined what is important to you. You crossed your fingers, got the shots and I truly hope you are OK.
And let me say there is no “cause” you’re betraying. If we are making the “cause” be standing up to government tyranny and mandates and advocating for freedom and human rights, you can still make peace with your choice while supporting the cause. You can still vehemently oppose mandates and government overreach and join protests. You can still be an anti-vaxxer. You haven’t abandoned anyone.
I want to offer those who made this choice understanding and forgiveness. Not that it’s for me to forgive anything. Live and let live. But please forgive yourselves. No one else in this world is in your shoes and had to make a decision that is truly unique to you. There is nothing worse to me, than the thought of you having to make this terrible choice and then hating yourself for it. If you’re going to do that you may as well make Choice 2. Life is nothing but a series of choices and we will make some good ones and some not so good ones. Maybe even some bad ones. Who is to say what’s good and bad in the end anyway? Some choices we think are bad turn out in the long run to have been the best thing for us. That is just life! And it’s your life. No one has the perfect life, no one. And no one else can say what they would have done in your shoes. So I really hope you can make peace with your decision and just move on. Hopefully the world will end its madness before you are again presented with the booster choice. I understand your choice and I want to hug you and tell you it’s ok.
Choice 2: nothing and no one is going to make you have the vaccine against your will. You will quit your job, sell your house and belongings and move to a caravan (or Mexico) if you have to. You believe freedom is the most important and inviolate value in your life and nothing will cause you to compromise it. Now I said choice 1 was the worst choice for consequences. To me, this choice is the hardest. Life without money/income is hard. Especially if there is more than just yourself to consider. On a personal level it may be quite freeing to make this choice and know that you are living your values even if you are destitute. Yes, the earth really does revolve around the sun and you will not recant. But day to day life will be very different going forward. Maybe you will eat away your savings or retirement money. And there’s no real end in sight at the moment so you face the prospect of being left completely broke even if you do have savings. What will the future look like? How will your kids cope with being shunned from society, maybe permanently. Is your partner on board with your decision? If not you could well lose your relationship and family as well. See. Hard choice.
I cannot but admire those who were brave enough to make Choice 2. I call it brave. But I do not call it superior. If there’s anything I’ve learnt through this pandemic it’s that humans in general have far too little empathy and compassion for others. My hope in writing this is that maybe the people that read this far can gain more empathy for those in other groups who have made different choices.
Choice is actually very difficult for most people. Especially a choice that is going to change the course of your life. Most people avoid making life choices, especially if their life is “comfortable”. They simply do whatever they did the day before not really questioning anything. It’s only certain events that cause us to confront our lives and have to make a conscious choice about the direction we want to go in. Do we quit our job? Move towns? Move countries? Sell our house? Buy a house? Dump our partner? Get married? Have an affair? Many people don’t actively choose these things they kind of fall into them. But the choice of whether or not to get vaccinated is a true life choice and the consequences are large. I kind of understand the spiritual teachers that are saying this is a period of enlightenment and upgrade for the whole of humanity. And I believe it’s because each and every one of us has to make this choice. The same choice. Even those from group 1 (if you don’t care to scroll back, the true believers) will face the consequences of this choice for good or bad. And until we have long term data from these vaccines no one can say how good or bad these choices are. But no-one can escape it. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a unique period in history that I’m naively surprised to be living in.
So good luck with your choice. Whatever that choice is. Because each choice we make is a part of our lives and it will change us. Maybe that will be for the better maybe for the worse we can’t know for sure. That’s the whole point of choice. Choose and live your life!