06 September 2021

COVID, antivaxxers and tolerance – breaking the silence

This is a blog about tolerance and what sort of society we all want to live in. No doubt we all want peace and harmony, but is that because we want everyone to agree with us and be like us? Or because we encourage diversity and make an effort to understand, tolerate and even welcome it?

Currently, medical and media opinions are vehemently pro-vaccination. In my opinion they have good grounds for this stance, yet I am disturbed by how many seem intent on ridiculing and shaming those opposed – the antivaxxers, even those slow on the uptake. This tends to polarise people, create entrenched defensive/aggressive positions, take people to extremes and create what is now close to a taboo around even discussing the topic. 

The last blog on vaccinations stirred a good deal of response, including an old friend who shared their own diary-like writings aimed at helping clarify their decision not to be vaccinated at this point in time.

Choosing not to be vaccinated for COVID seems somewhat perilous. No doubt there are many reasons people chose not to be vaccinated, yet currently it seems very difficult to have a measured conversation about why. Tolerance may be in short supply.

Clearly the conclusions this friend has come to are not the same as mine, however, they are well thought out, clearly expressed, may surprise you, and warrant consideration and understanding. 

So how do you respond to someone who has a strongly opposed view to your own? Who is different to you? Is there any curiosity to attempt to understand them? Their point of view? Or is there a rapid and emotion move towards derision? Do you consider yourself to be tolerant, but then feel free to be hard on anti-vaxxers and those who support Trump – as examples of exceptions we all might hold to…

In the interest of being open and of breaking any potential silence or taboo; in the interest of challenging tolerance and commitments to understanding, here are my friend’s reflections, but first



   Thought for the day

 Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between 

 The discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions 

 And the discomfort of being ruled by them.

                             Mingyur Rinpoche





Reflections from a friend   who asked to remain anonymous - a further indication of the difficulty expressing these views publicly…

In January this year I reviewed my position re COVID vaccinations and came to the position that I would not get vaccinated but that I would leave the door open and see how the situation unfolds. Time has moved on and a new situation presents itself. I feel it time to review my position.

What is new? We now have ready availability of vaccines and subsequent pressure from the government and media for people to get vaccinated.

Also, potentially severe restrictions are emerging for non-vaccinated people. 

This includes likely expected pressure and victimisation of non-vaccinated people from the wider public. 

My expectation is that life will become very difficult and restricted for non-vaccinated people.

How does this influence my position re COVID vaccination? 

On the one hand it would be so easy to just give in, make an appointment and have this vaccination over and done with and life could continue as usual – fairly straightforward. In addition to that I could do a bit more specific healing meditation around the actual vaccination event and the impact on the body, as a friend of mine suggests and ‘end-of-story’. Let life go on without avoidable government pressure/punishment and potentially ugly peer pressure and the fear surrounding all of that. 

So what is holding me back from this fairly straightforward process?

There is a strong inner voice active in me telling me to not accept this vaccination for myself. 

The inner voice is based on the following points:

1. I have reservations about the lack of a spiritual awareness in mainstream science and in medicine particularly. The human body is commonly regarded as a ‘complicated machine’ devoid of a spiritual dimension. In my worldview there are 2 vital dimensions - spirit and matter. For me, very clearly spirit is primary and matter secondary. 

From that perspective I evaluate very carefully what allopathic/mainstream medicine offerings are acceptable to me or not. In case of COVID vaccination; that is not acceptable to me at this point in time.

2. I am very particular about what I accept going into my body or being done to my body in the form of drugs, vaccines, medical treatments and foods. There is a particular emphasis for me to avoid genetically engineered/manipulated DNA substances wherever possible.

3. I maintain a healthy immune system through a very healthy lifestyle and I trust my immune system to be able to handle viruses.

4. I am not afraid of death. I accept my destiny. If I get COVID or other viruses I will do my best to recover from it. However, if it is my destiny to die from a viral infection, so be it.

5. In the mainstream narrative of the so-called COVID pandemic, the COVID virus is seen as the primary enemy and warlike measures have unfolded worldwide to ‘beat the enemy’. 

Following explanations of credible virology experts in the field there are millions of different viruses around and we could not exist without the viral dimension. 

The challenge is to find a way to co-exist with the viruses and on one level strengthen the immune system to cope with the health effects of some viruses like COVID. 

On another level there needs to be a clearer recognition how the treatment and exploitation of the earth, animals and plants as spirit-less commodities has contributed to conditions whereby viruses jump from animals to humans for instance and interfere with human health. I suggest the root causes should be addressed as a matter of urgency to work towards a sustainable future for all living beings.

6. I spent a lot of time reading/listening/watching the ‘experts’ in the field arguing for and against the current COVID vaccinations and the severity of the so-called COVID pandemic over the last 18 months. I cannot claim to know the truth; as a matter of fact I realised that no amount of research will lead me to the point of ‘knowing the truth’. However, all the information I could take in from the experts in the fields from different camps, leaves me with serious question marks over the validity, accuracy, robustness of the ‘main narrative’ promoted relentlessly by the so-called mainstream leading medical organisations, the mainstream media and the governments at all levels. 

For me the ‘mainstream narrative’ leaves me with too much doubt, too many question marks. And for me this puts serious reservations over the real motives for the relentless, unprecedented push for people to get vaccinated. Too much doubt remains for me which prevents me from trusting the ‘main narrative’. Based on all that I cannot just take the simple way out and get vaccinated. 

The opposition of my ‘inner voice’ to the COVID vaccinations for myself is also strongly linked to my
spiritual beliefs. 

It feels that I am at a major inner crossroad with the vaccination question with potentially serious long term consequences one way or the other. 

Of greatest importance for me at this crossroad is to make my decision based on a state of spiritual ‘Presence’. 

To avoid making decisions based on fear or hatred or anger or ‘becoming a martyr’ which would be related to my ‘pain body’ and driven by my ‘lower ego’. Instead I want to make my crucial decision out of freedom, guided by my ‘I am’, the ‘Deep I’.

The best I can do at this very moment is to listen to my ‘inner voice’ to the best of my capability. This voice is clear for me at the moment and that is to not take the vaccinations at this point in time. 

My firm intention is to do my best to be able to look into the future without fear and anxiety and to strive to have complete peace of soul and tranquillity of mind. And in the given moment to hopefully be able to make decisions out of full ‘Presence’.

I strongly believe in basic ‘human rights’ and one of the most fundamental human right for me is that of ‘informed consent’. At this stage I clearly do not consent to the COVID vaccination.

I fully respect the rights of other people including friends, partner, family members, colleagues to arrive at
their own decision re the COVID vaccination and I respect their choices. 

I also accept my responsibility towards the health of fellow human beings and I will apply appropriate self-isolation measures if I ever do show any relevant symptoms.


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26 comments:

  1. I don't think Steve Jobs would like having his picture beside comments from an anti-vaxxer, indirectly implying that he is also - which he is not! He was in fact involved in the first Pfizer trials.
    I think you should be more careful in what you post beside such negative comments (by your anonymous friend).

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    1. I take your point, but my sense is he would still be happy with the quote ...
      :)

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  2. Great article ...... exactly our thoughts

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  3. That's a very well expressed view by your friend Ian. I absolutely respect it. I agree with most of what he/she has written. While understanding and agreeing with him/her I made a decision to get this first vacc (two doses) and had the second about five days ago. I am still taking moderately large doses of Ascorbate (Vit C) numerous times a day as part of my protection from possible harm from the vaccine. I certainly don't believe the pleas from health ministers and various public epidemiologists that all these vaccines are superbly "safe and effective". I do support the education and urging of the public towards anti-epidemic behaviours and practices when out and about with people. Sadly I don't think the public is going to put up with that much longer. People just seem to want 'Back to normal please . . . '. Two things worry me about the next couple of years; you mentioned one and your friend the other. (1) Scapegoating and vilifying those who for various reasons don't take a vaccine. I think that the scapegoating already going on, and likely to get worse, is the worst of instincts in our society. It should stop (but likely won't). Education and urging is fine, but trying to create a class of outcasts is not fine. (2) The new deification of vaccines is going to go too far. Already there is so much talk of needing frequent booster vaccines. What a bloody bonanza for the big pharmaceuticals to be able to create so much fear that governments and most of the public believe that their only hope for safety is to get injected, again and again, as often as any health minister tells everyone to! There is very real argument from those dissident immunologists / epidemiologists that your immunity from the first vaccine (or from having the infection) will protect you pretty well from all these variant strains that are arising. It is not all about antibodies; it is about the T lymphocyte memory cells and other aspects of our complex immunity. I reckon the drive towards endless, frequent boosters is going to be so driven by commercial imperatives it is going to be a devilish thing.
    Thanks for your blog and being willing to post a well argued position that diverges from your own.

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    1. The commercial forces are very powerful and have far reaching influence. We need to be vigilant...

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  4. Thank you SO much for sharing this article. Your friend has expressed what I have grappled to put into words.
    So wonderful to hear another's beliefs without any sense of persuasion or anger towards others.

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  5. Thank you for posting this Ian and for the considered perspective from your friend. Clearly compassion calls us all to listen carefully and be open to alternative perspectives. Our different life experiences can lead us to different conclusions with the same facts. One things not implicit in the discussion is the ethical dimension. So let me give this a shot.

    The passion in this conversation is not just about people having different views but that our choices have consequences beyond the individual. A decision not to vaccinate is not just an opinion. It is a choice which has real world consequences for others. For this reason, it is not purely personal but must be reflect ethical considerations. To not vaccinate increases risks to others, both the vaccinated and those not vaccinated (especially children), it also prolongs the serious hardship and health consequences of the lockdowns.

    And this does not go the other way. To get vaccinated has no (or only positive) consequences for the unvaccinated. Hence the pro-vaccers are more likely to be less tolerant of the views of the anti-vaccers. And this intolerance has a valid ethical dimension.

    A fully compassionate response should weight this into the equation in a manner I did not see above. It is not, in this regard just another health decision (eg whether or not to take a given medication). The ethics of such personal decisions are less complex or controversial for the very reason they impact only the decision maker.

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    1. Indeed. I had a long conversation with a relative on this very topic. It is a challenging on though. The ethics of people who eat in such a way that they are almost certain to develop a chronic, degenerative disease and cost the community a great deal sits alongside people who drive while using their mobile phones. Creating ethical behaviour at a societal level has challenged people far more experienced and learned in such matters than myself, but i suspect there is a limit to how much shaming and aggression accomplishes. Some guilt is useful in my experience, but blocking communication with taboos and acting in a way that both polarises people and entrenches them in radical views, that is what this blog is attempting to discuss... :)

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  6. Hello Ian, I understand your tolerance message and thank you for that. Your correspondent's view has pulled me far out on a limb ! I am, however, glad of the challenge. It makes me stop, listen, reflect and learn (and yes, hopefully become more tolerant). I agree with her/his right to not be vaccinated (as long as this poses no risk to others). I agree with you that tolerance for this point of view (although different from mine) is very important and, in fact, vital. I do wonder though at a phrase your correspondent uses. In Point 5 he/she states "In the mainstream narrative of the so-called COVID pandemic...." So-called ? It is, I believe, one thing to not be vaccinated but another to question whether we are, in fact, experiencing a world wide COVID-19 pandemic. I may have read the intention of this phrase incorrectly. Please correct me if so. Regards, Pam

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    1. I too was puzzled by that choice of words Pam, but felt to leave them in rather than edit - the main point of the post is around free speech and tolerance - plus understanding. My understanding is the pandemic is a fact.

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  7. Glad you pointed this out Pam. I too was perplexed by those words - so called. Felt it not my place to edit them given the article was published with openness in mind, but facts to me are facts...

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    1. Thank you Ian, I appreciate your reply as it helps me to clarify. I still think frequently about my days at the Gawler Foundation - both at Malvern and at Yarra Junction. What I learnt was profound and sustains me still. I am very grateful for this. Pam

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  8. A good conversation to have. I wonder what the anonymous author means by 'mainstream narrative'? As I read and listen to various reports, they seem to be narratives, plural, not one. Personally, I do think we have an ethical obligation to have the vaccine to help protect the spread of the virus to others - we can be spreaders of the virus well before we are symptomatic ourselves.

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  9. Thank you for the post Ian and for the opportunity to reflect. I do think we need to be respectful equally to those who hold views we disagree with as well as those we agree with. Otherwise, we invite conflict by escaping conveniently into the binary simplicity of those who are 'like us' and those who are 'not like us'. That helps no one, and resolves nothing.

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  10. Hi Ian. I don't normally receive your blogs, but Ronda passed me the link to your latest. She was a bit surprised that you wrote an article like that.

    I take your point that we need tolerance for the opinions of others, but that doesn’t mean we should not endeavour to change those opinions. We can be assisted in this if we understand their origin, which is why I was glad to read your friend's notes, evidence of considerable thought. I note they relate to "Covid and other viruses", not exclusively Covid.

    The evidence for vaccines is so strong, we would not have such a healthy world today without them. 500 million deaths are attributed to smallpox in the last hundred years before it was eliminated in 1979. WHO estimates that 2 to 3 million deaths are prevented every year through immunization against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and measles. And these are but some of the diseases from which we are protected by vaccines - there are 15 on the National Immunisation Program Schedule, recommended and provided free by the Australian government.

    The achievements of vaccines are well described in "Defeating the Ministers of Death - The compelling history of vaccination" by Prof. David Hicks, which I am reading. Could your friend be persuaded to read it?

    I am not sure that doing so would change the views, given some comments and value-laden adjectives in the notes:

    * "I trust my immune system to be able to handle viruses" - I expect many of those who have died of these diseases since vaccines have been available did the same. It is noteworthy that most of those now hospitalised with Covid, and the continuing deaths, have not been vaccinated.

    * The suggestion that "the root causes should be addressed as a matter of urgency" gives no indication of what that might entail, though it appears to relate to spirituality. What needs to be done?

    * "the so-called COVID pandemic" - defined as a disease "incident to a whole people or region" there could be no better term

    * "the ‘main narrative’ promoted relentlessly by the so-called mainstream". What else would you expect?

    * "serious reservations over the real motives for the relentless, unprecedented push for people to get vaccinated", the likely alternatives being? The majority of the population engaging in conspiracy?

    After spending "a lot of time reading/listening/watching the ‘experts’ in the field arguing for and against the current COVID vaccinations", this person resists persuasion. For those of us aware of what vaccines have achieved since 1800, and the dire consequences of unrestricted Covid, we can only wonder what further evidence is needed.

    I note the closing comment: "I also accept my responsibility towards the health of fellow human beings and I will apply appropriate self-isolation measures if I ever do show any relevant symptoms". If only it were as simple as that. ‘Unknown’ commented at 1:57 on 6/9 on ethics. I tend to regard people who reject vaccination as selfish, accepting the community benefits but finding reasons for personal exception (while recognising there could be rare situations in which people are advised against vaccines on medical grounds). Has your friend truly considered the consequences of many others in the community reaching the same conclusion, only to isolate when it is too late?

    It is notable that the richest countries in the world, no long beset by most of these diseases, have the highest opposition to vaccinations. My friend Krishna Pun in Nepal says there's no such opposition in that country, where he is trying to get vaccinated.

    I agree, Ian, that we need tolerance for the opinions of others, but how far do we go? If we accept your friend's which include spirituality if not religion, should we accept not those of a religious extremist who attacks shoppers with a knife?

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  11. I did not write the article Peter, I reproduced it - with the intention of fostering reflection, discussion and ultimately tolerance. The chance of changing someone's opinion or extremist ideology by shaming or attacking them is hardly likely to work. Of course we do not accept extremist actions, yet even if we jail them, if we do not attempt to understand where they come from, how they develop and what the hurt or the need behind them is; if we do not attempt to engage with these people and their views, then in my view we will make little progress.

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  12. I would expect that your friend-should they succumb to the virus- would also choose to not partake of any measures that a medical team might use to assist their body to fight the virus. Given all of the above. This perhaps might allow someone who has contracted the virus from them - despite taking prevantive measures- to avail themselves of the treatment.

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  13. Hi Ian, thanks for opening up this discussion. I have been finding the public discourse really difficult, mainly because there is no education at all, there seems to just be formed opinions and stances, black vs white, them vs us. And just 'get vaccinated'. I admit to being really ill-informed of vaccinations and its history, partly because I've never had to know much about them, I've not lived through a pandemic before.
    The main question I have is what are the actual risks involved, and for who? I'm still waiting to hear the facts about vaccination in the media and from leaders, there is really nothing at all being offered, and I now realise I might have to go and research this myself. And hope I find something fair and unbiased.
    It makes it particularly uncomfortable, because I have already had my second dose too, and its been interesting to notice my experiences of this process. Despite being willing and on the whole accepting (still am), I'm not completely happy to have had it either, and this reluctant part of me is new and surprising.
    I'm increasingly now just wanting to know more about why people are opposed or hesitant, and will start to have more open conversations about it. And this feels good. You're friend's account here (and above comments) contributes to that and I'm grateful to have heard them.

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  14. Steven Sommer said...

    Hi Ian, in response to your friend I'd like to draw their attention to a new research article in the prestigious journal Nature which has concluded that the Delta strain of the virus on average is infectious for close to 2 (1.8) days prior to symptoms appearing, up from 0.8 days with the original strain. This is where up to 75% of the infections are occurring which is why everyone in a household will get the delta strain when one person unknowingly brings it home. If you choose to be unvaccinated it will be virtually impossible to know when you might be endangering the life of another. Hence, the personal decision whether or not to be vaccinated is an ethical one. I agree with the US wholistic doctor and author Lissa Rankin who says it's time to take one for the team. See her blog site at https://lissarankin.com/natural-health-and-public-health-vaccination-and-immune-boosting/

    September 14, 2021 at 10:48 AM

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  15. Thanks Steven, this is very relevant and important information... :)

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  16. Thank you for the opportunity to read your blog Ian. The comments from your friend go somewhere to helping me view where my beautiful son's feelings are coming from. He is also a spiritual man but sincerely questions the existence of the Pandemic and would never agree to vaccination. We have tried talking to him, sending him appealing letters and links to read, all to no avail. His wife feels the relationship has become very challenged and his mother (me) can't sleep at night. We have had some counselling that has been comforting - but no magic bullet. He lives in a somewhat alternative community surrounded by many like minded people (but not everyone) and they constantly reinforce each other's views. I have felt the equivalent of losing my child to a cult. However your friend's views have quietened my dispairing feelings a little.

    September 28, 2021 at 12:27 PM

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