Recently, a jaw-dropping statistic has been promoted in the mainstream media in Australia: “If you’re vaccinated, [there is] 200x less risk of [another vaccinated person] infecting you” (REF).
This has in turn been repeated by the New Zealand state-funded media, TVNZ: “If two people are fully vaccinated, the chance of infection is reduced by 200 times. If one person is vaccinated and the other is not, however, there is a tenfold reduction in the vaccinated person becoming infected as it relies on one vaccine alone” (REF); and the story has since been further propagated among the information landscape, particularly from mainstream media sources.
These articles (as many other articles from similar sources) are combined with other related messages that have the potential to instill a tremendous amount of fear in people – fear to get the Covid injections as quickly as possible, and fear and resentment towards the people who have chosen not to. My first thought was that this figure must be blown way out of proportion, based on my other recent observations. But then I thought, what if it were actually true? Then wouldn’t such intense fear and resentment be warranted? To find out, let’s take a moment and do our best to set aside any biases we may have, and look at these statements with the spirit of objective critical inquiry.
First of all, let’s have a look at who authored the original article. It turns out that both authors receive funding from the New Zealand and Australian governments. Interesting. That definitely flags a potential conflict of interest. And let’s have a look at the peer-reviewed research studies that have led the authors to this extraordinary conclusion. Um, wait a minute… hmmm… it appears that they do not actually draw from any such research. What they do point to are 3 sources of information: 1 “pre-print” research study (meaning it has not yet passed peer-review and should therefore be taken with a large grain of salt); a claim by “Victorian health officials” that “unvaccinated residents are ten times more likely to catch coronavirus than someone who was double dosed with a vaccine,” but with no link to the research or specific data used to make this claim; and a government-funded modeling agency (which brings up 2 flags–a potential conflict of interest, and the use of modeling rather than real-time data–modeling is a forecast based on a certain set of assumptions and is typically far less reliable than real-time data, especially given so many unknowns and complexities in this case).
What about the math these authors performed to arrive at their extraordinary claim? The only study they link to (recall that it has not been peer-reviewed) concluded about a 50% reduction in transmission from the fully vaccinated as compared to the unvaccinated (which is approximately 2-fold), but they didn’t mention that this study also concluded that this benefit rapidly diminishes to no reduction in transmission rates at all at 12 weeks post-vaccination. The authors then multiply this figure by their unsubstantiated claim that the unvaccinated become infected at 10x the rate of the unvaccinated (hence arriving at 20-fold), then multiplied this by 10 yet again to come up with the claim that the unvaccinated spread the virus amongst themselves at 200x the rate of the vaccinated; and are 10x more likely to infect a vaccinated person.
Having studied high-level mathematics and statistics myself, and having conducted and published my own research, I can tell you that this is some of the worst number-bending and most poorly referenced “research” I have come across, and I am very surprised to see that it would get so much airtime. But who knows, maybe there is some grain of truth in this mess. Let’s take a few minutes to turn our attention to the actual peer-reviewed research literature and see if it has anything to say…
Great. It turns out that there have been quite a few peer-reviewed (as well as pre-print) research studies, drawing from real-world data (not just modeling forecasts) and focusing on this very same question: What is the difference in rates of transmission between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. So let’s see what conclusions these studies have drawn:
Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States
“At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days (Fig. 1). In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days. The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.”
The conclusion: No evidence of reduction in transmission rates for the fully vaccinated as compared to the unvaccinated; and in fact there appears to be a slightly positive correlation between vaccination percentages and rates of viral transmission (i.e., the greater the percentage of vaccinations, the greater the rates of transmission).
Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gatherings – Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021
“During July 2021, 469 cases of COVID-19 associated with multiple summer events and large public gatherings in a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, were identified among Massachusetts residents.” Approximately 69% of the participants of these gatherings were fully vaccinated; and yet 74% of the infections occurred among the fully vaccinated, suggesting at least as much risk of infection by the fully vaccinated as by the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated participants. 79% of the vaccinated patients were symptomatic; 4 of the 5 patients who were hospitalised were fully vaccinated, and no deaths were reported amongst any of those infected (vaccinated or unvaccinated). Furthermore, no significant difference in viral loading was found between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, which suggests that the two groups–the fully vaccinated and vaccinated–pose very similar risks of transmission.
The conclusion: very little difference in transmission rates between the fully vaccinated and the unvaccinated, with actually a slightly higher risk of infection and hospitalisation among the fully vaccinated.
Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 cause significantly increased vaccine breakthrough COVID-19 cases in Houston, Texas
This study did not look specifically compare infection and transmission rates among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, instead focusing more on the comparison of rates of “breakthrough infections” between the Delta variant and former variants, and showing that the vaccines have generally provided significantly less protection from infection with the Delta variant as compared to former variants, which is already well established. However, for the purpose of our discussion here, this study did include a comparison of the viral load between the fully vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
The conclusion: very little, if any, difference in rates of transmission between the fully vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study
Household members who were required to remain living in isolation together were assessed, looking particularly at rates of infection and transmission, rates of viral load and duration, and comparing these among the different vaccination statuses.
The results: 25% of the fully vaccinated individuals exposed to those initially infected became infected themselves, whereas 38% of the unvaccinated individuals became infected–so a slightly higher infection rate for the unvaccinated. The vaccinated individuals reached the same peak viral loading as the unvaccinated individuals, though the duration of the peak was slightly shorter. However, despite this shorter duration of illness for the fully vaccinated, their rate of transmitting the virus to others was actually slightly higher than for the unvaccinated–25% of those exposed to fully vaccinated infected individuals became themselves infected; whereas just 23% of those exposed to unvaccinated infected individuals became infected.
The conclusion: this was the only study I found showing a slight advantage for the fully vaccinated with regard to becoming infected from a carrier (25% vs 38% of those who were unvaccinated, which suggests about a 1.5-fold risk, not 10-fold!), but then very little difference in transmission rates between the different vaccination statuses, with the fully vaccinated actually exhibiting slightly higher rates of transmission than the unvaccinated (25% vs 23%).
The following three articles are still in “pre-print,” meaning that they have not yet completed the peer-review process; however, they still represent controlled trials, so while we should certainly take them with a grain of salt, they at least do provide us with access to their data and methodology, so they clearly have more validity than the article mentioned at the top of this article, which is predicated on a claim of 10x infection rates for the unvaccinated without clear references to the research, methodology or any significant data at all.
No Significant Difference in Viral Load Between Vaccinated and Unvaccinated, Asymptomatic and Symptomatic Groups When Infected with SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant
This study gathered data from individuals who were asymptomatic but tested positive for Covid, then compared these viral loads (which essentially translate to the risk of transmission), analysing differences between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and between the symptomatic and asymptomatic in each of these categories.
The conclusion: “We found no significant difference in cycle threshold values between vaccinated and unvaccinated, asymptomatic and symptomatic groups infected with SARS-CoV-2 Delta.” This translates to no significant difference in viral loads, and therefore no significant difference in risk of viral transmission, among these different groups.
Shedding of Infectious SARS-CoV-2 Despite Vaccination
“We compared RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) data from 699 test-positive anterior nasal swab specimens from fully vaccinated (n = 310) or unvaccinated (n=389) individuals. We observed low Ct values (<25) in 212 of 310 fully vaccinated (68%) and 246 of 389 (63%) unvaccinated individuals. Testing a subset of these low-Ct samples revealed infectious SARS-CoV-2 in 15 of 17 specimens (88%) from unvaccinated individuals and 37 of 39 (95%) from vaccinated people.”
The conclusion: lower Ct values correspond with higher viral loads, and therefore a higher risk of transmission. In this sample of 699 individuals testing positive for Covid, viral loads were slightly higher in the fully vaccinated than in the unvaccinated, and the percentage of those confirmed to be contagious were also higher in the fully vaccinated group.
Waterford city district has State’s highest rate of Covid-19 infections: County also has highest rate of vaccination take-up in the Republic
This article is not itself a controlled trial; however, it does provide us with data, and the conclusion is striking, particularly considering that it is an article published in mainstream media, and what it states clearly goes against the grain of the state-sanctioned narrative: The region of Ireland with the highest rate of Covid infection happens to also be the region with the highest rate of vaccination (99.7% of all adults over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated!), with the recent rapid rise of infection rates correlating with the recent rapid rise in vaccinations, with this region having gone from having one of the lowest rates of infection in Ireland to having the highest during this period of time. I think it would be pretty difficult to make the claim that transmission from the remaining 0.3% are solely responsible for this outbreak. As mentioned in the first article listed above, similar trends have been found elsewhere around the world.
I could easily go on, but I think you get the point – we see very similar figures rapidly emerging around the world sharing essentially the same conclusions: There is very little difference in both infection and transmission rates between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. And this is actually being a bit generous since there appears to be a trend of transmission rates being slightly higher in the fully vaccinated.
So in the face of all of this evidence, we find government-funded sources spreading the message that the unvaccinated transmit the virus at 200 times the rate of the vaccinated…?! Wow, just wow…
It is worth noting that some of the articles mentioned above, and others, have provided evidence that while vaccination appears to have very little effect on rates of infection and transmission, they may reduce the likelihood of experiencing severe illness to some degree for certain populations, at least for the few months prior to this benefit wearing off, at which point “boosters” are required to maintain this benefit. However, what has been completely ignored (or even actively suppressed) in mainstream discourse is:
(a) the issue of serious adverse effects and mortality already being associated with these vaccines (see for example here and here);
(b) the fact that these vaccines still hold an experimental status with simply no available long-term safety data, though with some worrying signs already emerging, such as evidence of an increase in all-cause mortality being correlated with vaccination;
(c) the fact that mass vaccination (as opposed to selectively vaccinating the most vulnerable) is likely to exert great evolutionary pressure on the virus (known as epigenetic pressure), leading to the rapid emergence of new strains that are resistant to the existing vaccines and are at risk of becoming increasingly pathogenic;
(d) the fact that there are over a thousand research studies (many peer-reviewed), involving hundreds of thousands of participants, that provide compelling evidence for alternative early treatment methods, many of which have much more reassuring safety profiles than the vaccines;
(e) the fact that certain lifestyle changes can have a huge positive impact on reducing the risks of Covid, such as increasing nutrition and exercise, reducing obesity and diabetes, and reducing Vitamin D deficiency;
and (f) the fact that there are many other serious harms associated with the very strict and reductionistic approach of “lockdown and vaccinate” – for example, social isolation and escalating suicide and mental health disorders, domestic violence and child abuse, the disruption to essential health and wellbeing services, and the widespread bankruptcy of businesses and loss of livelihoods.
So returning to the main premise of this article, how can these governments and mainstream media sources get away with making such fantastic claims that clearly fly in the face of the real-life data emerging all around us, while ignoring or actively suppressing all of the other major issues discussed above? And even more importantly, why on Earth would they want to do this–clearly stoking the fires of fear, animosity and division in our already troubled communities?
To answer this, it will help if we consider 2 key concepts: the first is the human threat response —our natural human response when faced with insecurity and fear–to desperately seek to (a) identify the source of the perceived threat, and (b) to act in some way to neutralise that threat, even if these are not based on sound reason. This last point is so important, I’ll reiterate it: When faced with significant fear, especially when the source of the fear is not initially clear and/or we are faced with contradictory information, then our faculties for critical thinking and rational thought diminish, sometimes substantially, and what becomes of paramount importance is to create some sense of security, even if our newfound security is based on an irrational premise.
We see this phenomenon clearly in people who have fallen prey to what is typically called “paranoid delusion”; however, when such a state grips a significant portion of a population, a kind of collective paranoid delusion can take hold, to greater or lesser degrees. Human history is filled with such examples; and unfortunately, the results of this have sometimes been terribly tragic, including international war, civil war, totalitarianism, violent oppression and discrimination, and even genocide.
The principle of propaganda provides us with the second key point when considering the question, “How and why are such fantastic claims (and equally fantastic omissions) made in the face of such clear contradictory evidence?” Propaganda is generally defined as, “Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.” Regardless of how benevolent or malevolent you may personally believe are the sources behind the claim explored in this article (i.e., the Australian and New Zealand governments, the mainstream media, the primary sources of funding for these organisations, including especially the pharmaceutical industry among a number of other key corporate players), there is one very clear political agenda: Get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Again, you may or may not personally agree with this agenda, and it may or may not genuinely be coming from good intentions, but there is no denying it for what it is–a political agenda. And in the modern world, wherever there is a political agenda, there is almost certainly going to be biased reporting; and when that agenda is supported by those who are generally in charge of mainstream health policy and the mainstream media, and when a state of fear has generally taken hold of the mainstream population, that agenda along with its biases are likely to take a serious hold of the majority of the population. Not unlike a virus itself, you might say.
Unfortunately, this propaganda appears to be trending increasingly towards a very worrying pattern–one that has been used by various authoritarian regimes past and present: First, identify a real crisis (or manufacture one if necessary); then blow on the embers of the fear and polarisation that naturally occur as a result of being faced with such a significant threat; finally, steadily exaggerate this threat response with increasingly alarming (and probably increasingly false) information. This strategy can be a very effective means to bring about behavioural change on a large scale, with the outcome often serving those benefitting from the status quo by diverting the attention of the masses onto the perceived threat of each other, rather than towards the much more serious and authentic threat being perpetrated by the powers that be. In other words, there is a historical precedence of those in the higher echelons of society turning the ‘minions’ against each other while they quietly grab more and more power and wealth for themselves.
I’m not saying that I personally believe this is the explicit aim of such propagandistic messaging coming from the New Zealand and Australian governments and their associated mouthpieces–I’ll allow others to form their own opinions about this. Personally, as cynical as I may feel about the situation at times, I would really prefer to give the government and associates the benefit of the doubt, and consider that they have nothing but the best of intentions for all of us. What I am saying is that I am finding some very worrying red flags emerging; and as uncomfortable as it is for me to do so, I feel compelled to speak out about them, particularly given my experience as a clinical psychologist, with certain insights into trauma, psychosis and the extensive power and corruption of the pharmaceutical industry (my own doctoral research having been focused upon all three of these issues). Wittingly or unwittingly, I’m concerned that we may be collectively sleepwalking into a very serious disaster–one that may be significantly worse than the Covid virus. Let me expand upon this a bit:
So again, let’s begin from a stance of ‘good faith’ towards these governments and associated organisations. Let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that the pharmaceutical industry and associates have extraordinary influence over these countries, general health policy and regulation, and much of the Western world; that they are raking in enormous wealth and power from this crisis; that they would understandably feel tempted to spin a few facts to generate even more wealth and power; and that they have already been caught and convicted of doing exactly that many times in the past (you could say that fraud has simply become one more cost of doing business for the pharmaceutical industry). Rather, let’s set this issue aside and presume that the government and mainstream media having only the best intentions for all of us in this particular approach that they’re taking–that the only thing they’re interested in doing is trying to minimise the harm caused by Covid, and that they sincerely believe that the particular tactics they’re resorting to, as brutal and opaque as they may be at times, are the most effective means to this end.
So what exactly are they doing? Well, as discussed above (this particular fantastic claim being just one example of many), they’re clearly spreading a very narrow, over-simplistic, and distorted message about the vaccines–“the vaccines are our only treatment option and they’re perfectly safe and effective, so we have to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible; those who choose to abstain from the vaccines are being extremely reckless and selfish; and you have to be very careful not to be brainwashed by the ‘anti-vaxxers’ and all that ‘misinformation’ they’re spreading–you particularly want to ignore the transmission studies, the evidence of serious side effects of vaccines, the evidence of alternative treatment options, and the evidence that Covid is still spreading rapidly in regions with very high vaccination rates and among those who are fully vaccinated.”
So even with granting these powers the benefit of the doubt, can we really say that the ends (to get as many people vaccinated as possible) really justify the means (ignoring or actively suppressing evidence that challenges the wisdom of their approach, and actively blowing on the embers of fear, division and distrust of each other and of our elected leaders)? And furthermore, is this strategy actually even achieving the desired ‘end’? Sure, there are clearly many ‘vaccine-hesitant’ people being pressured into taking the Covid injections by the threat of the loss of their livelihoods and/or other civil liberties. But isn’t it also true that this serious lack of transparency and heavily biased ‘information campaign’ are pushing many others into becoming increasingly distrustful of our elected officials and the other ‘powers that be’? Isn’t it also true that we have abandoned the long-held sacred human right to informed consent, i.e., to be able to choose what medical intervention we participate in without coercion or force? Isn’t it also true that this approach is causing many people to just dig their heels in even further against the government directives? Isn’t it true that many businesses and organisations have been seriously harmed or bankrupted by these methods? Isn’t it true that these tactics are rapidly escalating the fear and animosity that people feel towards each other – the ‘pro-vaxxers’ vs the ‘anti-vaxxers,’ the ‘pro-choicers’ vs the ‘anti-choicers’? What effect is this kind of social rupture likely to have on our society, in the short term and in the long term?
Again, we’ve seen a similar story play out in different parts of the world in the past and in the present, and the results are generally not pretty. Check out this recent article of mine for a more detailed exploration into the psychological and social harms that are likely to occur (and in fact already are occurring) as a result of these severe ‘power-over’ tactics perpetrated by our governing bodies.
There are many who may believe that the benefits gained by this campaign of fear and oppression (i.e., its alleged efficacy in mitigating the risk of Covid) are worth the many serious harms associated with it. My personal opinion? I have been exploring this topic pretty intensively for a while now, trying my best to consider all angles; and when considering this issue holistically, with all of these various factors considered, I am not at all persuaded by that rationale. I have come to believe that the only thing that will get us out of this mess is empathy, mutual dialogue, transparency, and the general transition from ‘power-over’ tactics to a mutually empowering ‘power-with’ approach.
Speaking of political agendas, any critically thinking reader is likely to be asking themselves at this point: What is my (Paris Williams, the author of this article) agenda? And what are my biases?
I am human of course, and I readily acknowledge that yes, I do have an agenda. I have my own biases and prejudices, some that are clear to me, and which I do my best to hold transparently, and others that I suspect I hold but of which I’m still more or less unconscious. You could say that I am even engaging in some degree of propaganda myself with this article and other articles I’ve written (I suspect some of you will feel this way more than others!). It’s true that I am attempting to spread “information with the intention to promote a political cause or point of view,” though I really am doing my best not to bend the truth, at least not consciously. So what is that agenda?
As I imagine is the case for many people, all that I really want is to lead an enjoyable, meaningful life in a healthy and thriving world. I aspire to live in a world in which everyone’s needs are considered, and in which we work together to develop strategies where everyone’s essential needs are met; where we can transition towards a genuinely sustainable and just world, living in relative peace and harmony with each other and with our fellow Earthlings; where our children and grandchildren can experience the unspeakable joy of being members of a thriving and bountiful planet. So I’d say that this is my personal agenda in a nutshell.
And yet I see a biosphere that is rapidly collapsing, as we enter into the sixth mass extinction event in the history of this planet, with this one being caused by us; where the climate is already beginning to show worrying signs of spiraling out of control, and where food is likely to become increasingly scarce; where our personal and collective threat responses are likely to become increasingly sensitised as the world becomes a more and more challenging place in which to survive and thrive; where we will all become increasingly vulnerable to being hijacked by fear, animosity and polarisation. I really wish that I didn’t see our situation as being so dire, but having spent so many hours and years poring over the evidence (including what I’ve witnessed with my own eyes), now that I’ve seen it, I can no longer unsee it.
And here we have this pandemic–a global crisis rapidly unfolding, with all the ingredients that go with a rapidly emerging collective human threat response–polarisation, fear, paranoia, animosity, violence, hoarding, confusion, despair and helplessness. And yet, thankfully, there is another aspect of human nature that also tends to surface during such a crisis–the pull of many towards courage, empathy, compassion, sacrifice and creativity. But I find that the latter can only really take root when we allow love and not fear to sit in the driver’s seat. As has been recognised by many wisdom traditions, we find a kind of battle going on both inside and outside of us, between what are essentially love and fear; and it is ultimately up to each of us to decide which of these we would like to cultivate, which of these we would like to be more or less in charge, and yet we are all vulnerable to being influenced by the various forces around us. So I find it deeply disturbing and disheartening to see so many leaders pushing down so hard on the ‘fear’ button rather than the ‘love’ button of our nature. And I believe this is ultimately occurring because many of the leaders and other ‘powers that be’ have themselves been hijacked by their own fear (with greed, egocentrism and hoarding being fear’s “evil” siblings).
So what to do? Based on everything I understand about this pandemic and about the other serious crises facing us, I have come to the opinion that the threat of this pandemic is likely far smaller than the threat of the many other crises that are barreling down the pipeline, as the various polarisations and ruptures within human society escalate, and as the biosphere that gives us life continues to dramatically collapse. Call me radical, but I believe that if the human species has any chance of getting through this century alive, we are going to have to find a way to put love back in the driver’s seat. (By the way, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with having fear as a passenger–we need to be alerted to emerging risks and dangers–but I really believe that we need to do our best to keep love in the driver’s seat if we’re going to make it.) So, from my perspective, this campaign of fear, oppression and division coalescing around the Covid pandemic could not be occurring at a worse time. I believe that the survival of our species is in great peril, and we really need all hands on deck–“united we stand, divided we fall.”
So in a way, I see this pandemic as a kind of dress rehearsal. This is an opportunity for us to face our fears and our tendencies towards polarisation, groupthink, divisiveness, scapegoating, paranoia and hoarding; to understand ourselves better in this way, to acknowledge these primal human tendencies, and to instead make the conscious decision to turn instead to courage, empathy, kindness, and compassion; to make the shift from closed-mindedness to open-mindedness, from closed-heartedness to open-heartedness. To put ourselves in the shoes of others, especially those whom we may particularly fear or despise in some way. I believe that if we can do this, then maybe, just maybe, we can work together to face the much more serious crises coming our way.
So what does this look like practically?
First of all, we need to stand up to the abuse of power by the elites and not allow them to continue sowing the seeds of fear, division and confusion. We need to have the most accurate information possible available to all of us, and insist that we are all treated as the thoughtful human beings that I believe we all have the potential to be; and corresponding to this, we need to be clear that we will no longer tolerate being spoon fed watered-down, distorted and opaque soundbites generated by powerful industries and political lobbies.
It turns out that we already have access to most of the raw academic research of the world, with the means to easily bypass the corporate paywall, though most people are not aware of this. Please take a moment to check out this pagethat I created, in which I do my best to share these resources with everyone. Though there is still plenty of work we need to do in this domain, as even the peer-reviewed research has been seriously corrupted and compromised by powerful industries (the pharmaceutical industry being among the worst such offenders); but at least we already have a much more effective means to educate ourselves than listening to the ‘talking heads’ of the mainstream media parrot the narrative that is most favourable to their corporate sponsors. As for the issue of more generally taking our power back from the hands of the elites, you may enjoy this article I’ve written on the subject: Reclaim Our Power or Face Extinction: The Choice Is Ours
Secondly, we need to repair the ruptures that have already occurred on many levels within society; and we do this with courageous, empathetic dialogue. This involves doing our best to see the human being beneath whatever ‘enemy image’ we may have of them; putting ourselves in the shoes of others we disagree with and striving to empathise with the basic needs that they are trying to meet (beneath the particular strategies we may bicker over, I can guarantee you that we all ultimately share the same needs–those such as safety and security, belonging, companionship, support, meaning, freedom and autonomy); and by taking advantage of the awesome creativity bestowed upon us human beings to develop strategies that meet everyone’s needs. There are many people already skilled at facilitating such dialogical work (myself being one of them), and this kind of work is not actually that difficult to learn. In fact, most people find it very intuitive. To name one starting point many people find very useful, I recommend looking into the method of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) — see here and here.
Finally, we need to take the time to “face our own demons” – to do the personal growth and healing work that will allow us to not be so easily hijacked by fear and our primal threat response. This can look many different ways to different people. I personally find mindfulness meditation invaluable, as it provides us with the means to objectively observe the various thoughts, beliefs, biases, feelings and impulses we are all vulnerable to, which if left unconscious and unchecked can wreak so much havoc. Other methods that many people find helpful are different forms of psychotherapy, counselling, practices that connect us with body and soul, and Earth-connection practices (i.e., spending time in the outdoors, relating with our fellow Earthlings).
With ruptures repaired, coercion/threat tactics dropped, and wholesome communication initiated, we get the sense that all of our needs matter and are being considered. We naturally feel more safe and connected, and our threat responses naturally settle. Our autonomic nervous system shifts from a state of fight/flight/freeze to nourishing social engagement. It is from this place that we can take full advantage of the creativity we are naturally bestowed with and allow collective intelligence to blossom.
This opens up the door to the development of strategies that we simply don’t have access to when we are operating from a place of fear and division. Yes, the prospect of getting ill with Covid is very frightening to many people; and the prospect of being coerced to participate in a medical experiment with many unknowns and serious danger flags is also very frightening to many. The truth is that there is no way through this crisis without some fallout–some harm will inevitably continue to occur for some time.
But our task, should we choose to accept it, is to do our best to minimise that harm, to ensure that the cure (which presently consists predominantly of sowing fear, trauma and social division, and the rapidly dismantling of our human rights and democracy) is not worse than the disease. One thing we know about human nature is that when we face a crisis head on, with open hearts and open minds, with ‘good-faith’ collaboration rather than ‘enemy-image’ animosity, wholesome solutions invariably emerge.
As a closing note, I just want to encourage all of us (myself included!) to continue to notice those moments when fear (and its associated ‘cousins’ of hatred, greed, and helplessness) is trying to jump in the driver’s seat, and to actively inoculate ourselves against others’ attempts to push fear behind the wheel. And during those inevitable moments when fear does manage to slip in behind the wheel, renew our connection with love (and its associated cousins of empathy, curiosity, courage and kindness) until she gets back behind the wheel. With persistent practice, this can become the default state of our heart and mind, creating a very different and much more enjoyable and satisfying kind of existence; and if enough of us make this shift, not only will this increase our chances of coming through this Covid crisis with minimal harm, but it will also greatly increase our chances of emerging from the many other challenges that are heading our way.