The end of grace for willful ignorance

I'm writing this because I got a new response today while telling a denier about the dangers of COVID-19. I'd like to set this document as a reminder for myself that here marks the end of grace for me towards willful ignorance of the harms caused by this deadly super-virus (and all of its similarly transmitted ilk).

A bit of background on me

It's worth setting some context around the conversation. I am a strictly-zero type of person when it comes to COVID-19. I don't engage in any “risk analysis”, or “you do you”-isms, or cheat-days, or any of the like. I play by the simple playbook of “zero contact” because it's easier for my brain and heart to manage. I do allow several layers of protection to permit minimal contact scenarios, but I'm strict enough in how little I do that it is likely clearer to tell you of the few sorts of activities I do take part in.

As an example, there was one time, a couple years and too many variants ago, when I took a walk on a trail where others occasionally passed me by, many of whom were conscientiously masked (as the government had advised them to do back then). This was a special occasion. Every effort was made to ensure that all the right boxes were checked at all times. The winning trifecta of good safety: masked, distanced, outdoors.

Those times are over for me, for now.

In the recent months of 2023, I can no longer even visit the doctor, optometrist, or dentist without intentional, explicit, and potentially mutually arduous arrangements; at times weeks to months in advance. While I deeply prefer anonymity, I must pause to write “thank you” to these professionals in my life who have made every attempt to ensure that I can go on living without fatal infection while still receiving proper healthcare. I do not know how long their ability to work with me will last (or heaven forbid, their willingness) and can only count my blessings.

I trust that these small anecdotes have already given you an incredibly precise idea of what kind of life I am forced to lead. I am aware I have the privilege to do this and I judge no one for being forced to adapt to different levels of safety, but we must turn to the crux of the matter: there is indeed a judgment. As suggested by the title, now is the time that I am done with permitting constant leeway to those who continually choose to live unawares of the human cost in lives and the health of others that they are racking up.

Let's turn to today's conversation and its other participant.

My friend, and our conversation

My friend lives closely alongside anti-vaxxers and vocal bigots. He has always been a bit stuck wading through these type of muddy waters that I count myself lucky to be generally free from. While he has always proven to be floating happily above the sorts of vices that he's mired in, today's conversation suggests that there may have been a leak somewhere along the way.

To the point, we we were chatting lightly about how we each were, and catching up about the latest frivolities. I turned the conversation to trust my long-time friend with the fact that it's tough to be feeling like my health is finally on a brief climb and to not have much that I can do with it. Since society has all but cast me out to die as an untouchable, by proxy of COVID now being a naughty word and myself acting as a token of its lingering power, I am all healthed up with nowhere to go.

The response wasn't quite the empathetic echo I needed to hear, that which I could generally count on. Instead it was a soft rejection of reality. I received gentle suggestions that he only hears of stormy weather when I'm on the line, and that the world is sunny and beautiful according to everyone else. That things are back to normal, and he wishes they could be for me, as well.

I faced this friend with the lay and boring facts that all of those who deny COVID are engaged in cold-blooded killings. I'll defend those terms briefly: cold-blooded simply because they aren't within the heat of passion and killings simply because their actions directly cause the deaths of people down the infection chain. (An exception granted if they are unlucky enough to have committed a cold-blooded and accidental suicide by infecting themselves and seeing no one else — not the win we should be hoping for).

The push-back became clearer as I received the novel response mentioned in the introduction: “I wish you didn't feel that way. It's hard knowing you think that of me, my partner, and my family”.

Thoughts and prayers are passé; try wishes

I'll admit: the response sounds measured and polite. In some ways it is, but it is in those same ways exemplifying the banality of evil. The response immediately undercuts the empirical data that I was reporting which unquestionably shows that COVID is a stone-cold and utterly merciless killer, as ruthless as it is on-going: beyond plenty. COVID's body count numbers in the millions and is still not stopping, despite (as that site will alert you if you click) any of the reporting cessations from the villains or cowards in leadership. It's still not stopping, despite the fact that we have already killed the most vulnerable; it still claims more. It grows and mutates to persevere, unfortunately unlike the humans it breeds within.

In brief: no, these are not “my feelings”. These are facts.

Engaging in wanton denialism of COVID equates directly to human suffering and death. We all need to navigate this landscape together, despite the virus' ability to spread between us, but denialism is biological assault and outright murder.

The end of the excuse

Henceforth, I'm taking a step further in my heart today with my personal social circle: ignorance is now a choice.

Enough time has passed for any checked out, mental laze about to defend themselves by claiming to be a fool about the most pressing global matters of our generations [1]. It's been long enough and now far too long to claim it any further as an excuse, at least to me.

I will no longer lend gratuitous grace to the tired and increasingly sickening attempt to play dumb. Resources on the dangers of COVID are so plentiful now that you could drown in them. I don't believe anyone needs a silver bullet omnibus of all the data, either; just read the data until you realize there's no acceptable level of careless infection!

For myself, it's time to be done tolerating the denialist, the complacent, these who are complicit in the murder of predominantly oppressed or vulnerable groups. Groups I love and cherish. Groups I am at times numbered in. Groups who, like their oppressors and feigned-invulnerable alternatives, are beautiful and precious human souls with unalienable and undeniable worth and value.

The deniers are human just like these. And so they know what it means to learn and to live and to laugh, what it means to hurt and suffer, and furthermore the unjustifiable evil of hurting others, whether by deliberate actions or tacit permission. I'm done with this prevailing, suffocating, unreasonable priority clanging out in every corner of my life to “only talk about good feelings, only care about comfort” in the middle of an unyielding pandemic. I cannot and we must not be happy to watch others suffer and die.

These are human beings who are enlarging this viral slaughter by denialism and lazy ignorance. So I will engage their humanity with great resources to learn more about how COVID kills and disables humans just like themselves. I will plea to their conscience to learn how to protect themselves and others. I will urge them clearly, and without timidity, that their choice to recklessly hurt others is fully under their own total control.

We must not permit callous atrocities. We cannot change the size of the universe, but we can absolutely change its kind, and its kindness, in every small movement, in every daily act. I believe this is how I can take part. I welcome any to join in these simple and kind acts to those who understand and feel this pain.

And so, that ignorance is over; that excuse has met its end.


[1]: Climate change is obviously in combat with COVID for #1 most pressing problem, but I am not a great source for writing on this matter, so my writings will remain moreso about the latter. ← Back

~ N.0

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