As the vast majority of governments fall in line to coerce their citizens into vaccination programs, a troubling polarization has also been intensifying in 2021. Fear, anxiety and irrationality are gripping many minds, leading some people to eagerly attach new labels onto themselves - "vaxxer" and "anti-vaxxer" are the new buzzwords. Looking at how this new division between human beings is playing out in the open (via social media and in real life), I have been motivated to express my views in my new e-book, One Big Coercion, which is available exclusively for members of my Patreon.
Although at first glance I may be viewed as "anti-vaxxer" for a number of reasons, I cannot accept that label on myself. Vaccines can be useful and I am not opposed to them as a way to combat public health crises, especially in protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities. Even within RasTafari, many have come to terms with their human right to decide what is best for them. This means that there are some among us who have or will take the jab for personal reasons, even if their viewpoint is antithetical to the livity. None of us have the right to judge them. His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie 1st, in speaking on the occasion of the World Health Organization's 10th anniversary (April 7, 1958), said:
As we all know, disease is one of the deadliest enemies of mankind. But, thanks to the progress achieved in the field of medical science during this century, man is now no longer a defenceless victim against all types of disease.
Further on in his speech, he said:
This is not only of inestimable value to the individual countries to which the Organization extends advisory, technical and material assistance, but also to the entire world-at-large -- for in this age of swift travel facilities, it is evident that our world has contracted in its relative geographic position and, consequently, the outbreak of a contagious disease in one country is a danger to the rest of the world. Hence, the necessity for every country to enforce international health regulations as prescribed by the World Health Organization.
My interpretation of His Majesty's words is that he would, indeed, be supportive of having vaccines widely available for those who desperately need them. Furthermore, he would probably understand the inclination of nations aggressively campaigning for their populations to be vaccinated, although he would probably be in opposition to the apparent greed and corruption evident in the way that certain vaccines have been introduced. Still, it must be said that an important aspect of the RasTafari community's philosophy is a staunch opposition to routine vaccination in favor of building natural immunity. This is why we are known as, perhaps, the earliest collective voice in modern times to say, "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food."
Observing people in high and low places, on and offline, crusading for the cause of COVID-19 vaccines as the single, miraculous solution to this novel coronavirus, I am extremely perturbed by how they tend to belittle and even berate those who express their hesitance to going that route. In a hurry to return to normalcy in a global economic system that has not been serving humanity well, these people point their fingers at the unvaccinated who, they say, are at fault for putting whole societies at risk. It is the most bizarre thing to witness, especially as an unvaccinated person who cannot be rushed into such an irreversible decision.
Overall, I see a great danger in the apparent marginalization of voices that is happening in the COVID-19 vaccine debate. Whether it is the global minority who have already been vaccinated yet feel emboldened on the social media platforms that censor those who oppose them, or the majority of RasTafari who will resist this particular vaccine while ostracizing others in the movement who decide to take their chances with it; in both cases, voices are being marginalized and that is definitely not a good thing. We should maintain common human decency, love and compassion for one another, even when we disagree.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Association of Rastafari Creatives.