Letters - 7 January 2022

From Vaccine discrimination to Conflict created

Vaccine discrimination

I applaud our Society’s commitment to stand against discrimination of all kinds but what about discrimination against the unvaccinated? It’s a hugely divisive subject and Quakers will be as divided on it as any other group. What I’m asking is an ethical question.

NHS doctors and nurses have spent decades looking after people who made themselves ill with their choices in life. They would have cared for drug addicts and alcoholics, the obese and those with extreme religious views. Many would have done so without judgment. Now they are told to have the Covid jabs or quit.

In other countries things have gone a lot further, with the unvaccinated banned from most public places or subjected to bankrupting fines. My mother and brother in Germany have recently reluctantly agreed to be vaccinated. Life had become too difficult. Are we happy with a society where the unvaccinated are increasingly excluded from work and from social life? Politicians and media will have you think that all ‘anti-vaxxers’ (note the compounded language) are the same. They are selfish, ignorant and, frankly, deserve no better. In other words they have been ‘othered’, made less human, a hate figure. When state authorities use disproportionate power against them, we are meant to feel not empathy or outrage on their behalf but a sort of satisfaction at a problem being solved. Unfortunate, maybe, but unavoidable. But wait! We are currently forcing nurses and doctors to have the jabs. How selfish and ignorant can they be?

While many Friends will be fearful of the virus, I’m fearful of the world my children will grow up in. Lockdowns and vaccine passports, people forced from their jobs and banned from certain places, constant vilification and stigmatisation in the media, dissenting information censored, dissenting scientists ‘deplatformed’, medical treatments no longer your choice; all unthinkable only two years ago. When I first wrote a lockdown-questioning letter here eighteen months ago, politicians still promised we would never have vaccine mandates or passports. Do Quaker principles draw the line somewhere? If so, where? At what point do we stand up and say ‘not in our name’? Clearly sacking doctors and nurses isn’t enough, as there hasn’t been a peep from Quakers about it. So what will it take?

I’m not trying to be provocative. I’m genuinely wondering where Quakers as a community could be said to draw the line collectively. Somewhere between sacking NHS staff and concentration camps, presumably? Rather than cause division I’m trying to find the thing that we can all agree on. Would we be OK with taking benefits away from the vaccine-free? What about banning them from all work or banning children from school? And if (or better when) the line is crossed, will we speak up for the vaccine-free, even though most Friends may disagree with their choice?

Oliver Müller

Basic income

I agree 100 per cent with Volke Heine (26 November 2021) when he says he is not convinced the universal income offers freedom from the disparity inherent in our financial system. 

I was an advocate of the basic income for more than twenty years, until recent times changed me. It was a decade ago when I travelled among Friends with the ‘Positive Money’ message, having learned of the fraudulent way in which the monetary system operates – private banks keeping the majority of us in debt slavery, with money created out of nothing, all but a tiny proportion brought into existence through debt.

It was much more recently that I woke up to the fact that not just finance, but as Volker reminds us, also governments and the law are in the control of the powerful and wealthy.
Evidence of this manifests in the developing draconian loss of our basic human rights – for example freedom of movement and travel; the right to free speech; the right to bodily integrity; the right to peacefully assemble…

My fear for the basic income is that in the increasingly tyrannical dictatorship I think we now live under, if we don’t behave the way that suits the powers that be, will our (digital) basic income simply be made unavailable?

Susan Holden

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