While my first inclination is to avoid the topic, the increasing amount of theoretical speculation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic motivates me to weigh in on the issue.
To be clear, I have an inherent distrust of “big pharma,” “big health care” and “big money.”
I know that greed can and does drive far too many decisions, and that there are bad people, countries, businesses, and various organizations that do bad and arguably very evil things in the world.
With regard to the topic of vaccination — I believe in personal choice. Upon the advice of my primary-care physician who has looked out for my family for the past nearly 40 years, I have chosen to be vaccinated for pneumonia. My wife Claudette chooses to get an annual flu shot, while I have not. We chose some years ago to have our children vaccinated. Occasionally we have gotten tetanus and other types of vaccinations. These are our choices, and I believe people should retain the ability to make those individual choices.
But the online chatter supporting various theories as to the origin of the virus and the intent of various persons/countries/organizations has, in my opinion, too often gone over the top.
A friend posted online recently that she was concerned about her mother being in a nursing home where residents had tested positive for the virus. A commenter quickly chimed in: “They are doing it on purpose. Sending corona people to those homes.”
That commenter and many others appear to believe that the pandemic and related actions are all part of an international effort intended to depopulate the planet while making billions in profits off the vaccine. Some versions of the theory end in the total subjugation of the remaining population via “medical martial law.” Still others believe the vaccine will contain a microchip allowing government to monitor every citizen’s every move.
I receive seemingly daily emails from folks urging me to watch various YouTube videos of interviews with seemingly rational and educated experts asserting with the utmost confidence various renditions of similar scenarios.
The basic premise is that entities such as Bill Gates, the Rockefeller Foundation, George Soros, the Deep State, Jeff Bezos, the military-industrial complex or (fill in the blank) — have individually or collectively in collaboration with China, Russia, the Central Intelligence Agency, Israel or (fill in the blank) engineered and deliberately released into the world the COVID-19 virus.
The nature of a conspiracy theory involves connecting dots of “known truths” with dots of “well it could be true” with dots of “it was once true” with dots of “someone told me it was true” and circling back around to the dots of “known truths” — the more the cycle is repeated, the more believable it becomes.
It is true that overpopulation is seen by many as a primary cause of many of the planet’s problems. It is also true that many organizations have studied over the years various strategies, from increased access to birth control to government mandates, to reduce the environmental pressures that come from over-population.
It’s also true that there are those for whom vaccines aren’t good, with some people becoming sick or dying from adverse reactions to certain vaccines.
The likelihood of a pandemic such as what is now occurring has been predicted by many individuals and organizations over the years. Various groups and governments have planned for it, and even stockpiled supplies in anticipation of it. That does not mean they engineered it and made it happen.
Like everyone, I do my best to also “connect the dots” and come to my own conclusions about life. I look first and again last to those people in my community whom I trust, such as my primary-care physician and others in the medical profession whom I know personally. I also review a wide range of media. When a provocative statement of fact is made I will generally look for the “source” and do my best to determine if the “fact” is credible or not.
The well-known, right-wing talk radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying “Well it could be true.” He is, of course, correct, and this is the underlying fuel that lights the fire of every conspiracy theory.
I have no doubt that big pharma is racing to develop a vaccine, and that when it happens they will make billions. But I cannot imagine or believe a scenario where a virus like this is developed and intentionally released as a strategy to achieve world domination or as a way to make money.
I often bounce these columns off of friends and family for comment and feedback before submitting. I was told by one today, “You are writing an article to try and rationalize with irrational people. I don’t know if you can win.”
Well, if I cannot win, I can at least have the final word on my own column. Suffice for me to say that we would all be better off making sure the dots we connect are based upon facts, reason and an underlying faith in humanity.
Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action, and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.