Moral endurance is a problem these days. Empathy is low, and not just on the pro-narrative side. I don’t know about you but the feeling I can’t quite ignore or reconcile these days, something I am not proud of as an ethicist or a human being, is a palpable feeling of being numb. Numb to the repetition of history’s atrocities, numb to the laziness of the compliant who helped to create the world in which we now live, numb to inauthentic pleas for amnesty.
Anecdotes of the harms of the last two years are palpable but ignored. Patients complain of symptoms their doctors won’t acknowledge. Citizens tell stories the media ignores. Family members try to open dialogue only to be shut down. The stories are told but, for the most part, they aren’t being heard.
Vaccine mandates are wrong not because they fail to generate a net benefit or because the risks to vaccinated persons outweigh public health benefits (though both are true). They are wrong because they trample on the very thing the noblest version of a liberal democratic society should be trying to create.
If our civilization collapses, it won’t be because of an outside attack, like Bedouin charging in from the desert. It will be because of those among us who, like parasites, destroy us from within. Our civilization may collapse and it could be due to any number of factors—war, the economy, natural disasters—but the silent killer, the one that may get us in the end, is our own moral catastrophe.
What can you do as an individual against a multi-million dollar institution full of important people with doctorates? What if you get cancelled? What if you lose everything you have worked for? These are important considerations. But remember this, 21st-century universities are commercial enterprises and you are their customers. They don’t exist without you.
Religious persons today are a threat, but not to public safety as the narrative instructs us. They are a threat to the idea that the state is to be worshipped above all else, to the religion that’s trying to take their place, to the idea that it’s possible to find a compelling and complete sense of meaning outside of the state.
We think uncertainty will expose us, put us into a distressing freefall, but in reality it does the opposite. It expands our minds by creating spaces that don’t need to be filled by anything. It lays the groundwork for innovation and progress, and opens us up to meaningful connection with others.
It’s taken a long time to get us to where we are and it will take a comparable amount of time and effort to rebuild what we’ve lost. We can make the rational choice to hope for a better future. And we can take little steps toward that future by choosing hope right now.
“Today, we face substantial rewards for compliance; if we comply with the government’s pandemic response measures (masking, distancing, lockdowns, and now the ever-increasing and nebulous vaccine rollout), we are granted the conditional privilege of reentrance into society; and the penalties for failing to comply? being bullied, shamed, excluded, cancelled, even fined or arrested.”
The dismissive, well-rehearsed messaging of our public health officials has created a highly efficient machine that does not publish its evidence or engage in debate, but only issues orders that we obligingly follow. With the help of the media, its mistakes are hidden, its policies unquestioned, its dissenters silenced.