Post-Pandemic Etiquette for the Unvaxxed

  As we emerge from the lock-down across the United States, political polarization is adapting rather than disappearing. I am not blameless. Unfortunately. I’ve branded those who won’t vaccinate as I had those who won’t mask and distance. Where are your manners? Your solidarity in a time of collective threat?

Knee-jerk tribalism just adds to the collective distress, so I’ve taken a deep dive into what people like me call “covid denial” and “vaccine hesitancy” to tease apart the polarizing, unsubstantiated viewpoints from legitimate claims of personal sovereignty and social responsibility.

Underneath the conspiracy theories that Bill gates is micro-chipping us through vaccines, or Fauci/ the WHO/ the CDC are agents of a repressive state bent on turning us into sheep, I see people legitimately waking up to the fact that the corporatocracy (or kleptocracy or neo-liberalism) has already laid claim to our lives and the living earth by changing the rules of the money game in their favor. We have a right to be shocked, but are deluded if we blame Fauci or Gates for a rigged game.

I woke up to this in a general way decades ago when in 1989 I woke up to the rigged money game, which must peddle the drug of consumerism to feed the billionaires while drawing down our social affection and the earth’s ecological integrity.  In the years since, vivid details have come ever more into focus as “the beast” has grown and our efforts to stop it have been unequal to the threat.

We are clever but not yet wise.

I know how profoundly shocking it is to get glimpses of this unaccountable strata of wealth and power, and that when we feel powerless we are likely to lash out at whoever is at hand because we can’t get to the power holders. The classic boss yells at man, man yells at wife, wife yells at kids and kids kick the dog.

At this point, we brawl or we wise up. Wising up is choosing what to do with the perception that something is very wrong and needs to be addressed.

Plenty of people want to use our shock to direct us to their political, narcissistic, or financial ends. Wising up is waking up to this manipulation. We can ask, “Who wins if I believe that?” Who wins if I believe QAnon’s wild assertion of a pizza parlor pedophile ring of democrat elites? Who wins if I believe Sidney Powell’s, Giuliani’s and Trump’s wild assertions about a rigged election? Who wins if I believe Covid is a hoax? Someone is riling me up, but to what end?  In all these cases, someone/s want to get their hands on power (and thus money). Once they have their hands on power or money, who will win? You?

Perhaps better to see how the capitalism casino is being run. The logic of unfettered capitalism could easily justify commodification of children for sex or science. Unfettered capitalism is the game and we are all trapped in that web; the very same system that brings us the computers, smart phones and cars we can’t live without. The bad actors aren’t the ones we can see and hate. Everyone captivated by the logic/rewards of that system, whatever their politics, is fully capable of making horrendously unethical decisions. Look at the slave trade, which is still going on today. How do we really, as ethical humans, exit this trap?

You don’t have to subscribe to new age philosophies to know that we are stuck in a low vibration materialistic and selfish way of life that fails to teach us psycho/spiritual/somatic wellness practices that can help ward off (but not control) diseases. Our physical, mental, informational diets are toxic and purveyors of what we consume use shock and fear to commandeer our minds – mostly for profit. The conspiracy is the materialistic worldview we are all trapped in, not specific actors who simply exploit niches in our minds. How do we really, as ethical humans, exit this trap? We may differ as to who have been the most destructive manifestations of this worldview. I can still get infuriated by the Trump cult’s impact, but I don’t mistake that for constructive action.

Our situation is immensely upsetting and dire. It’s like an initiation: what you thought the world was is not what it is. Your fixed ideas are limited and myopic. The adults you looked up to – church, business, politicians, thinkers – have clay feet. Staying asleep at such a time is not an option. We have to make choices in this consequential, risky time.

In summary

The shock revelation, of the systems harvesting our and the earth’s life energy so they can profit, is very real. We need to be very wary of buying into stories about this that polarize or distract us, that increase fear and hate in our hearts, that feed a sense of righteousness and a willingness to assassinate others’ characters and perhaps their lives in service to what others tell us is a mighty cause (like January 6 insurrection). All of that to me is a distraction from the task at hand. Somehow we need to slow down and breathe and question our interpretations and behaviors and stay with the Golden Rule, and inner and outer adaptation to reality.

We are trapped, I believe, in systems of biocide – of grinding all of life through the machinery of global capitalism. This to me is the challenge for all of us. I don’t have any answers – I had and deployed lots, but in terms of the big IT, nothing has worked.

Back to the present moment

Emerging from the pandemic. I think the US flunked “pandemic-as-initiation”. Many other countries have addressed this novel, out of control global threat with maturity. Notably, countries led by women seemed to do better. I do wish we’d shared a story of humanity rising together to the challenge, like beating polio or beating the Nazis in WWII. I wish that, no matter our politics, fears or beliefs, we’d collectively taken on public health as a priority and used the proven tools (but not only tools) to stop the spread of pathogens. Had we achieved this, we would be in a better position globally to collectively address our ecological precarity and our morally repugnant insistence that we have a right to continue exploiting Life and lives because we have the money, power and thus right to do so. I think, with years of study behind me and many colleagues of similar views, we will see the pandemic as the easier challenge as the climate destabilizes.

As for the vaccine…

I got it as soon as my cohort was cleared, and it was the first one. Not because I was afraid, but because I know that from any pathogens point of view, humanity is one body and I did not want to be a breeding ground for covid and spread it to others. I also saw it as a gift to others, that they could be with me without fear. I’d read about how the vaccines were developed on the back of years of vaccine research and didn’t worry about it being too soon. I was a “polio pioneer” when I was 7 . I don’t think public health and personal responsibility for one’s own health are binary – they work together.

I’ve been concerned about the number of people choosing not to be vaccinated, that it will keep covid-19 running around our country and mutating, but have decided that as one who IS vaccinated I’m going to freely participate in our public life as the government and businesses and schools decide it’s safe enough. The “bug” stops here.

Not right or wrong but polite or impolite

There needs to be a Covid etiquette for shared public life, like covering your cough and not driving drunk. I will continue good public health habits. I think any privately owned establishment has the right to set rules for who can come in, be it a temp check, a vaccine card or ultimately an instant Covid test. No shoes, no shirt, no service. That may render the un-vaccinated belligerent, or may have them gather other places, or may break through some hesitancy. I don’t think this means I’m a sheep and surrendering my sovereignty to Big Brother. I’ve tried dropping out of society, a fully DIY life with some dependencies for gas and parts. It’s not easy. And functionally withdrew my talents from the bigger problems facing humanity.

This also frees me to pay greater attention to whatever acts I and we can do to transition to a sustainable, regenerative economy that honors and cooperates with the community of life. This is a collective tasks. I hope we can do this together. It thrills me to my core to support the emergence of life-serving, self-responsible loving ways to meet human needs elegantly on a thriving planet. My motto used to be “living well together within the means of the earth.” My other one was “enough for everyone and everyone has enough.” They shaped my choices and worked for years and are surely sturdy enough still.

Can we be a community of inquiry and problem solving again? Can we do our inner work so we less and less source public problems from unprocessed trauma? Can we let the earth challenges be an initiation into more mature ways of human participation in life’s glorious wholeness? That’s plenty to keep us well occupied and forging cooperative bonds.


I shared a version of this on Facebook and want to include some of the voices of dissent. In general, I agree with the comments that there is much more to addressing disease than the Western model of control, and this information was not coming from authorized sources. Unfortunately, the President at the time represented the most absurd of the alternatives and offering nothing on diet and consciousness (both of which were not on his radar). I agree that control over nature – as personally beneficial as it has been for me who has benefited from surgeries that saved my life – is part of the problem. I wish there were more substantial studies on alternative treatments, but note that Trump was given the best of the best we knew.

And now, your push back, enhancement, information most welcome.

The greatest tragedy I see in the way conspiracists have processed this time is that it has resulted in a willful folding inwards, in a worldview where personal or collective responsibility for our circumstances is minimized and replaced with boogeyman proxies. This becomes a way to forestall any real reckoning; and that is also what I think happened to our chances for a collective response as a nation and world as you mention.

We needed and need that reckoning to arrive with the heat and weight of a lightning strike in a lone-tree field at night. That strike is what we could have had; what many still did; what they are struggling with today.

There is no going back, and the After Times, if they ever come, will certainly not be 2019 Jr. We are in the Between Times. They are going to last a long while.

  Ben Swain

Coronavirus is not the enemy. –

“One of the ways we are acting, as this large earthly organism, is in a binarized way: kill the virus, get back to normal. And what if that way of seeing control — or seeing ourselves — is the crisis? What if control is the crisis?” (from the linked article)…/nigerias-bayo-akomolafe…/a-54081002


It’s a thought provoking article but I don’t share your views on this vaccine. For me the pandemic is an object lesson in the very ‘shock revelation of the systems harvesting our and the earth’s life energy so they can profit’ that you talk about, because when you take a deep dive in the facts, none of the response to this ‘crisis’ makes any objective sense – in fact at every turn the policy response has been to do the precise opposite of what is necessary proportionate and humane. And when you have been fortunate enough as I have been to have access to wonderful people, ethical professionals in their field, some of whom to their personal detriment have been speaking up publicly to point out these scientific fallacies and frankly the outright lies of politicians and others in positions of influence, you come to understand that the wholesale and systematic censoring of legitimate views is the signal everyone should be able to see of a deliberate malign energy which is the very antithesis of what is needed for a thriving planet. To give just one example, the widespread, censoring, cancelling and ignoring of serious, highly published and highly respected medical professionals, who seek only to save lives and treat the sick through safe and effective known treatments that are cheap and readily available, and whose efficacy has been proven in may RCTs and peer reviewed research, by those in power tells you everything you need to know about what is going on and it is not ok. Contrasting that with the off the charts coercion and pressure on a global scale to take an experimental treatment for which there is no long term safety profile, no detailed toxicology reports, no serious pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics studies and which is not shown to reduce serious disease or even prevent transmission (so there can be no possible moral exhortation to take it for the benefit of others, as noble as that might appear) reveals the utter recklessness (being generous) of the approach adopted pretty much everywhere regarding these innoculations. Time will tell I suppose, but the risks of pathogenic priming, TH2 enhanced disease, thrombotic events are very real and in the end could easily very substantially outweigh any risk of a disease for which the vast majority will not get seriously ill or die (the survival rate calculated by one of the leading epidemiologists in the world is 99.95% for those healthy and under 70 and 99.85% overall). I could go on for hours about this but will stop here because I think you have my point. This crisis is not to my mind a crisis of a pathogen but the prevailing crisis of humanity of our time. I have hope because there are kind hearted, earnest people trying to do the right thing, but the world is at a crossroads and who knows which path will be chosen? I for one don’t agree that a privately owned establishment should set any rules that discriminates against people for exercising what is a legitimate and justifiable personal choice – for them to do so will lead only to division or coercion as you point out and I do not think you are advocating for that for one second. (p.s. if you want the actual science hinted at above -happy to supply it).

Oliver Stokes thanks. got it. re the promise of Ivermectin, a friend of mine is also studying it. here’s some links to NIH research review i found. it’s promising. reading comments here I see that people are enthused about promising treatments that haven’t gotten through sufficient trials to scale AND about the sense that the powers that be are suppressing information about alternative treatments to solidify their power and control. my assertions above have been about all of us being in the grip of what Hazel Henderson calls ‘the money meme’ which degrades the truth of everything it touches. Ivermectin: a systematic review from antiviral effects to COVID-19 complementary regimen – PubMed



  1. I had a real “Corona Crazy” moment when I boarded an Access-A-Ride taxi, masked and fully Phizered, to encounter a young driver who refused to get vaccinated because he thought it might make him sterile. I endured his rant while sharing his space for about 40 minutes. I wish him well, I truly do, and I’m glad to be immune from both his possible virus and probable self-deception.

    They say a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged. We might infer that a pragmatist is an idealist who has kids, a job, and other real-life obligations. Herbert Marcuse, the German economist and Marxist scholar who fled the Nazis and wound up working for the predecessor of the CIA, originated the concept of “repressive desublimation”. In brief, it posits that governments (and media) will seek to control people by distracting them with salacious gossip tarted up as news. Finding such stories more entertaining and palatable than serious “hard news”, they won’t notice how their civil liberties are steadily being eroded while they’re slouching, mesmerized, in front of the television. That was, in fact, the premise behind the Roman bread and circuses.

    I hope I’m not the only person who sees in this an analogy to the histrionic news stories, aided and abetted by actual current events in our own parochial corners, that veil our lack of knowledge about what’s going on in the rest of the world. A wise advisor once told me to “pick battles small enough to win, big enough to matter.” Making a huge fuss about being asked to wear a mask in Walmart won’t make much of a dent (uh, how about making a huge fuss about open carry of assault rifles in Walmart?) in our wealth and well-being. Wearing the mask will liberate us to redirect our attention to areas where we can make real contributions to our communities. I don’t love wearing a mask, but I’ll save my FIREpower for causes where I can do some good.

  2. Preach it: “Somehow we need to slow down and breathe and question our interpretations and behaviors and stay with the Golden Rule*, and inner and outer adaptation to reality.” * (also referred to as the Law of Reciprocity). Kudos to you for finally making a stand against the heinous polarization and politicization of a virus. But I am more in sync with Oliver Stone regarding the whole vaccination push. I have been quite loquacious, if not eloquent, about that on my Facebook page and elsewhere. I will not be taking it, although all my ‘virus etiquette’ remains firmly intact. I do believe there are some very capitalistic, powerful, immoral people heading up some extremely heinous and intentional agendas. Call that conspiracy theories if you must, but it’s the truth. Those of us who truly want to “do the right thing” feel powerless, and we grasp at paper straws sometimes. I could give up and feel hopeless and powerless, but instead I choose to think for myself. Logic is still legal. If it becomes illegal, I guess I will have to break the law.

    Teresa McElhinny
  3. Please don’t forget that there is a third category beyond those who get vaccinated and those who refuse: those who cannot be vaccinated. I received a kidney transplant, and recent research says that there’s less than a 50% chance that my two shots are providing me with any protection. Lots of folks have received transplants or have other health conditions that make the vaccines ineffective. We can’t protect ourselves through shots, so we have to keep social distancing, etc., and hope that other people’s precautions make it less likely we’ll get COVID.

    Richard E Vodra

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