The drowning man

Sanne Burger

4 September 2021

I got involved in a strange conversation the other day:

“Did you hear? This girl that worked at the coffee bar where they don’t participate in masking, caught Covid and died. She leaves her husband and their little daughter behind. Word is that she and her family were not vaccinated. Public outpouring is all focused on sending God’s blessings to the family but not a single one of them is able to consider that the miracles of modern medicine in times of crisis are one such blessing – a blessing that would have kept this woman alive. It would require too much humility to openly declare that their choices were responsible for this woman’s unnecessary death. The husband apparently didn’t show the least bit of regret that they hadn’t made different decisions, though apparently he did get vaccinated after she took a serious downturn in the hospital. I would never wish this illness on anyone but I am at a loss as to how people can continue in arrogance and denial, and then console themselves with religion when things are dire.”

I didn’t know what to say, as her harsh tone made me cringe. ‘How do you know she caught Covid?’ was the first question that popped into my mind. ‘How are you so sure getting vaccinated would have saved her?’ came straight after. Not that anyone asked for my opinion. They were all eager to chime in:

“I don’t understand any of it either. Such a tragedy.”

“What a tragic death cult.”

“It’s all beyond me, I’m truly exhausted with humans. I have lost patience and losing compassion. Stupidity is becoming toxic.”

“This type of story is unfolding everywhere right now. Thoughts and prayers are useless now. We have been given what we need to get through this, and the only prayer I am willing to give is that more people get vaccinated.”

“I can’t believe how many people are so irresponsible – I wonder how many others like this woman have lost their lives because of something that could have been prevented. My worst fear is that Delta may mutate into something worse.”

‘Oh my, where did I end up?’ I thought to myself. ‘Do they have any compassion for that guy? He lost his wife!’ It was good that I didn’t respond straight away. They would probably eat me alive if they heard I didn’t believe in Covid and considered the vaccines an extreme health hazard. I decided to just listen for a while. For such a long time now I had wondered how people could still believe in Covid and the vaccines. Maybe this was my chance to find out. I decided to make it a case study.

Someone shared a story. It was a great story, I knew it from before, but had never thought of it in this context:

The drowning man

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”
The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”
So the man in the rowboat rowed on.
Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”
To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the man in the motorboat drove on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”
To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter pilot reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”
To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

Apparently this person considered the vaccines a gift from God and compared it to the lifesaving rowboat, motorboat and helicopter that could save the drowning man. I silently sighed. Maybe that’s why they all took three shots.

The conversation continued. Several people shared their opinion.

“If the consequences of their choices were limited to them, I’d say do what you want! But they’re literally dragging the whole f*cking world with them. It’s infuriating!”

“Sadly people like this never realize anything until it directly affects them. I just don’t understand this way of thinking. ‘Screw everyone else … it all about me, myself and I.’ What is truly sad are the ones that have lost loved ones and will not admit that Covid is what has taken them. They will use every excuse to say it wasn’t that. I just wish people would wake up before something like this happens to them, not after it’s too late.”

‘People like this …’ This guy was generalising and pulling the selfish card. ‘People who do not get vaccinated are selfish.’ I never understood this argument. It just didn’t make sense. But it did to them. They started to sound like a pack of hungry wolves.

“You’re right! I know someone who is a Covid denier and conspiracy theorist who had Covid, was in a very serious condition, had a positive Covid test to prove it, and got mad pissed that people were talking about her having Covid. She was absolutely convinced that Covid doesn’t exist, and still thinks that way even now. She did somehow survive, but learned nothing. And this person calls herself an energy healer and teaches groups all over the world.”

Auch. It was getting from bad to worse. Someone knew someone and there was their proof. Sigh. And now people who chose to not get vaccinated couldn’t be healers or teachers anymore. I wanted to speak up, but everybody was nodding in agreement. I managed to bite my tongue, as I really wanted to know where this conversation was heading. The same person continued with passion in her voice:

“It’s one thing to make a dumb choice. It’s another thing to have months and months to amend that dumb choice, and then die from it. That little girl will now grow up with no mama. All because of the conservative agenda to reject science due to willfulness. Nope. Not okay.”

She wasn’t aware of the harsh judgment in her words. Neither were the others. They just added more to it.

“I don’t believe it’s ignorance – everyone has heard the facts by now. I believe it’s hubris – the belief that I know better for myself, as well as truly not caring for others.”

“This mental loop they’re on is literally killing people. It’s not a f*cking game and they’re so defensive since it’s now so correlated with their most visceral ‘spiritual’ convictions that they are just unwilling to see the devastating damage they are causing. I don’t know what part of my intentions kept me aligned enough to clarity but I totally could’ve been them. I get it. But I’m the enemy now that I question their rabbit hole of questioning authority. Step out and be willing to look at the big picture for two seconds people. That’s what ‘be willing to look’ means. But you’d have to know your own tendencies, biases, defenses and constructs well enough to take a real inventory in order to do that. Ugh sometimes the free will planet realness is a double edge sword. I’m so f*cking over this too.”

Wow, so weird. I could have said this myself, but still we were on either side of the fence. It struck me before how the two parties in fact used the same arguments, with the same vigor and conviction. Maybe our self-righteousness was the biggest problem here.

“It’s amazing that it takes such extremes to humble these folks to see the harms of their rigid ideologies. Only when it comes so close to home. Sigh.”

Really? You’re talking about humbleness? Look at yourself, you are not humble at all! I thought it, but I didn’t say it. However, this was the moment for me to step in. I decided to play dumb in order to not piss them off. I asked:

“It seems neither of you are aware of the dangers of the so called vaccines, while they cause more damage than any so called virus. Am I missing something here?”

It was a scary moment, as suddenly all eyes were on me. Someone said:

“Wow. Just wooooooow. I’m waiting for my booster, lady.”

However, the woman who initially shared the story about the coffee shop lady who died, composed herself and answered calmly but in an icy tone:

“Yes. I think you are missing a lot. I have had this virus personally and I have dealt with Long Covid. These attitudes are cavalier and deny the actual lived experience of those who have struggled and died with it. I welcomed the vaccine, and would welcome it again and again. I would encourage you to do a little bit of reading on the nature of conspiracy theories, as what you’re sharing here is textbook in that regard.”

I couldn’t help but getting a little offended by her condescending tone, so I responded too quickly. I used all my cards at once. Damn, do I ever learn?

“Honey, I’ve done so much research on conspiracies that I’ve become an expert by now. It’s just that you seem to have made up your mind very firmly about what you consider reliable healthcare, while I worry about every person who gets vaccinated. I believe there is no virus. People get sick and die because of something else. Agenda 2030 is not a conspiracy theory, it’s real. I really hope more people will discover the truth about these death shots.”

Silence. An eerie silence. Oh, oh. The woman I disagreed with took a deep breath and slowly said:

“The problem is that what you refer to as ‘research’ is not the same as actual scientifically verifiable research, and though many people list medical professionals among their resources, those medical professionals are either debunked entirely, not qualified in the appropriate field to say what they have said with any reliability or validity, or manipulating information to fit their biases instead of practicing actual scientific research. If you consult copious research about vaccination, it is abundantly clear that vaccines are safe and saving lives. My mind is made up on trusting experts that have dedicated their lives to becoming well educated and trained to intervene in areas that I could never hope to understand. Thank goodness for them! It is arrogant and foolish to believe any layperson could understand the complexities of such training – and yet, that is the very agenda espoused by these conspiracy theories, that the average layperson can understand better than the experts. Nope. I am humble enough to know what I do not know and to trust those who have the expertise to know.”

I was impressed by her eloquence. Clearly she’d had this conversation before. However, instead of recognizing the fact that we had entered the slippery slope of polarisation, I couldn’t help myself adding to it. I wanted to defend myself, so I argued back:

“Well, as I have never shared with you what my research was, I find it strange that you assume you know. I fully agree with your point though, that we need to rely on real science and not on theories and propaganda. In fact, that’s my point entirely, because the lack of real science, both when it comes to viruses and vaccines, is appalling. I believe that if the real science would come out, nobody would ever take the vaccine, or in more scientific, accurate terms: the experimental, unapproved genetic modification cocktail. You can dismiss this by labeling it as a conspiracy theory, but I’m actually only sharing facts here.”

While we were both silent for a bit, trying to not lash out, someone else did:

“The world runs on capitalism. It’s pointless for governments to conspire against capitalism. There’s just no government capable of this, nor would it be so inclined to do so.”

I was completely at a loss what this had to do with our conversation, so I just looked at him blankly. That somehow seemed to encourage him, so he continued:

“To deny this virus when it’s caused so much suffering and loss is just so disrespectful to the earth-bound collective. It scares me how ‘spiritual people’ can be so radicalized in their conspiracy theories. I have some theories I believe in that some might consider a little odd. But the things that you are saying are beyond conspiracy and right into full-blown delusion. It makes me sad for those who will suffer as a result. I can’t help but think there is more going on here than your physical incarnation, girl. Deep karmic, egoic, ancestral wounds, for example. And sure, we all have our lineage and familial and inter-generational trauma, but when people become radicalized like you, it’s almost like a form of possession, in my opinion. I think you are possessed, so all I can do is walk away from this discussion and ask that the universe holds you in the light.”

My head spun, as he stood up and walked away. Did he really say that I was possessed and beyond conspiracy theories? I looked around for support, but I didn’t get any. Instead I got content and distant looks. Apparently they were happy that finally someone had dared to say out loud what everybody was thinking.

Apparently the conversation was over, as everybody stood up and got ready to leave. The woman who had initiated the conversation stood up too. While she threw a few coins on the table to pay for her coffee, she looked at me and spat out her final words:

“You cannot discern between valid research and delusional non-science. It is sad to watch this happen, and yet no surprise. So many ‘spiritual’ people have fallen prey to this. You have demonstrated the very essence of Covid conspiracy theories in action.”

She walked out the café and slammed the door behind her. The few people still there pretended they didn’t know me, so I sat alone at the table, digesting everything that had been said. My case study had ended. I got a lot out of it, that was the good news. But my heart was a bit shattered. I had to fight back the tears. I was amazed by the strength of their conviction. Their belief in Covid and the vaccines as the only solution was unfaltering. Questioning their beliefs, as I had just done, led to a strong emotional response. They felt so righteous about holding that guy responsible for the death of his wife and didn’t question their own attitude at all. Apparently the narrative that unvaccinated people now were responsible for the deaths of vaccinated people was already firmly founded in their heads. Was this foreseen? It was certainly not foreseen by me. I never thought people would buy that story.

What did I learn? I learned that self-righteousness is dangerous. I learned that being emotionally attached to ones beliefs makes one defensive. I learned that emotions block the capacity of logical reasoning and self-reflection. I also learned – again – that sometimes it is good to keep your mouth shut. When will I ever learn?

Sanne Burger
sanneburger.com

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