When I was entering my teens, the Vietnam War was still going on. I assumed then that it would continue indefinitely and that when I turned eighteen my name would go into the lottery and I too could be called. I dreaded the prospect, though even then I could understand the logic of conscription and why my father supported it so strongly. Our society has been built on democratic principles that enshrine fundamental human freedoms. Those freedoms were threatened by the godless ideology of communism (or so we were told), so it was right and proper that we band together to defend our country and protect those freedoms, even if it meant countless of our young people must die! maybe including me!

The time has changed. I thank God that I did not have to go to fight in Vietnam, and now I am unequivocally opposed to the practice of conscription. That’s because I no longer believe in the way our wars are sold to us, as noble causes. Tea ‘domino principle’ that was used to justify the stand in Vietnam turned out to be vacant. We didn’t have to be in Vietnam any more than we were in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria. I no longer believe in compulsory military service because I don’t trust the government. Still, I accept the basic principle that there are things worth dying for and that we must be willing to pay a price to defend our freedoms. So what happened?

I remember when the closures were first announced, I posted a video on Facebook, expressing concern and suggesting that we should think about where we draw the line. yes we accept social distancing Y stay home orders, is there a point where we draw a line? When we are no longer allowed to hug our children, is that where we draw the line?

I posted it in March 2020 and got an immediate call from my bishop, asking me to take it down. He said, “no one is saying we can’t hug our kids”, as if I had ventured into the absurd. I downloaded the video. Within weeks of that phone call, I saw news footage of a man disembarking from his plane in Darwin, where his young son ran to hug him. Dad stepped back with his hands in the air. The confinement rules had gone into effect while he was in flight and, in fact, the man was prohibited from hugging his son.

Not long after that, my tenure as pastor ended, a position I had held for thirty years. At least that meant he could repost my video. Yes, I have been able to speak freely ever since, although doubtless many hoped that by denying me a pulpit, I would be left preaching in a vacuum.

I have never accepted, and do not accept now, that what is driving our government’s response to this ‘great pandemic’ it is purely a public health concern. That’s largely because the statistics don’t and never have justified the level of totalitarian response we’ve endured.

Yes, people have died. In fact, a good friend of mine died of COVID 19. He died in Syria and not in Australia, but I am not denying for a second that the virus is real and deadly. Still, there are many things in this world that can kill us, and of course governments should play some role in trying to protect us, but it’s a matter of balance.

Roads can be deadly. Every day people die in traffic accidents, but we do not reduce the national speed limit to 40 km/hour, even though we know very well that this would save more than a thousand lives every year!

We know that allowing families to build in-ground pools in their backyards will inevitably increase the number of domestic drownings. We still let them do it.

We know that by banning the sale and consumption of alcohol, as the United States did for a full thirteen years (between 1920 and 1933), there would be fewer deaths on the highways, fewer cases of domestic violence, and fewer fights in the streets. Still, not only do we not ban the sale of alcohol, but even in the most severe lockdowns, the sale of alcohol has been deemed an essential service!

I just don’t think public health has ever been the sole and sufficient reason for locking up large numbers of healthy people, and if it were, more weight would surely have been given to the health cost of lockdowns.

Closures destroy small businesses and people lose their jobs, which in turn leads to stress, poverty, depression, and domestic tensions. Also, while the lockdowns may be only a minor disruption to the wealthy and well-healed, for those on the edge, the lockdowns threaten to push them over the edge.

As I mentioned, I lost a friend to COVID. Still, I know of seven who have committed suicide during these lockdowns. One of the boys from my boxing club told me one night how he had gone to see his father but he got there and found that he had hanged himself. How do you recover from something like that?

I read that during Melbourne’s lockdown, youth suicide increased by 180%. I’m surprised it’s not more.

I myself have not been gainfully employed since losing my position in the church and have been struggling. The lockdowns are suffocating. The universe no longer seems like a friendly place. Stopping the pain through self-destruction is starting to look like a believable way forward. It is not, of course. it never is. Still, I have felt the tug of the abyss, and I cry for those for whom the tug has been too great.

We used to think freedom was worth dying for. What happened? Well… the narrative changed.

In today’s official narrative, we are indeed at war, but the enemy is COVID and we are all united to fight it.

Yes, we will all have to endure some hardship, and inevitably some will have to sacrifice more than others, but once we have achieved victory over the enemy virus, all these hardships will soon be forgotten. The economy will recover, small businesses will thrive again, the government will relinquish all emergency powers, and electronic tracking and surveillance will be gone forever. All those who committed suicide will be resurrected. and we won’t even remember what social distancing was as we’ll all be too busy hugging each other to celebrate!

Does this sound good?

The only thing that makes the official narrative seem plausible is that the counter-narratives, most of which point to secret conspiracies plotting the destruction of the human race, seem even less plausible. Personally, I do not accept either of these narratives. Rather, I believe that what is driving the global response to the virus are the same twin forces that drive almost everything else in this world, namely the lust for power and money, which feeds on fear.

Fear sells newspapers, fearful populations are easy to control, and of course, in this extraordinarily litigious culture, companies and governments alike are terrified of being sued if they are held responsible for someone’s death because they didn’t do enough to protect them.

The institutional church works exactly this way. I remember when I was still in seminary hearing a bishop warn us that we (the church) must be careful not to apologize to our indigenous population lest we be sued like the church in Canada, which at the time looked like it might soon be insolvent! ! So I told the bishop, “But shouldn’t we just do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may?” I don’t think I have received a response.

With any large company, government, or institution, the bottom line will always be the bottom line, so the church cannot risk allowing people to worship for the same reason we cannot risk being honest about of our history.

We cannot open the way for dozens of litigants to come forward and say “My grandmother would still be alive if only you had closed the doors of the church”. Nope! We must do what is necessary: ​​close the doors, stop people from singing, talking, hugging, denying the faith if necessary… just protecting the bottom line!

There are alternative ways out of this mess.

For our leaders, we need them to be guided by love and not fear. As the apostle John said, “perfect love casts out all fear”. (1 John 4:18), If love is too much to ask, a basic respect for human dignity will suffice.

For the rest of us, we must be willing to take personal responsibility for our own health and let government focus on its real job: protecting our freedoms!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *