It is a gross understatement to say mandates for masks, social distancing, school closures, mRNA injections and other Covid restrictions have created a widening abyss between those who agree with the standard medical paradigm and those who are resistant. And to be perfectly honest, it was vaccine hesitancy last January. It is resistance at this point. No one who actually wants the shot has somehow managed to neglect to get in their car and drive just about anywhere to get one of the vaccines offered.
With the recent flurry of executive orders given by the US administration, and more restrictive vaccination mandates seeming to arrive with each passing week, it is hard to imagine a more volatile situation pitting public health versus private rights.
What is suggested to us through the Establishment of Religion framework? When we unpack the details and clear away the headline chaff, we see an internal contradiction at the heart of the controversy.
While responsibility for others, for our community and our world are part and parcel of the teachings, it is important to see who is defining the collective we are being asked to defer to...and what their motive may be for seeking to submerge our individuality.
"Community" and "public health" are abstractions that require close scrutiny to determine the legitimacy of the claim on the curtailment of our individual expression. While we may certainly envision scenarios where there is a real and deserved deference to the needs of a collective greater than just ourselves, we are cautioned not to assume this is the case. Just as Universal Intelligence wrested order from chaos in the beginning, we must be careful not to overlook the telltale marks of disorder, coercion and forced compliance, not voluntary agreement arrived at through effective persuasion and reason.
No one can tell a believer what is the proper balance between collective and individual rights. Each person's experience is the best guide as to the level of trust that should be vouchsafed to other individuals and institutions. But as we make these difficult choices, we should keep uppermost in our mind that anywhere we find coercion, manipulation, deceit, and the flaunting of disordered conduct, we should steer far clear of our acquiescence in such activities, which clearly violate our basic tenets of faith. It may be helpful to refer to the Nine Principles for further guidance.