Of all the insanity of the last two years, I think one of the worst issues I have observed is just how quickly society devolved into a chaotic mess of people at each other’s throats.
If there is one thing the government has been successful in undertaking throughout the Covid era, it is the sowing of division by turning neighbour upon neighbour, friend upon friend, and family upon family. It is clear now that this was the goal from the outset – a divide and conquer approach.
2021 was the year of the ‘Vaccine Wars’ for Australia.
Some took to the conflict immediately, claiming this was ‘for the greater good’. Others saw the merits in giving it to the elderly and immunocompromised, as they were at greater risk from the virus. Some said that whether or not an individual wanted to take the vaccine should be a personal medical decision pertaining only to them. Others called for the vaccine to be mandated, labelling those who chose not to take it as ‘selfish’.
When vaccine mandates eventually came into being – once a conspiracy theory, now a reality – people’s true colours bubbled to the surface. The enforcement of mandates meant those who had worked hard for years, even decades, now had their jobs being used against them. Some stood their ground and were rewarded with unemployment. Others caved and took a vaccine they never really wanted. Either way, people lost.
In other words, the ‘Vaccine Wars’ had shifted to the employment market where the ensuing battles caused a lot of damage.
Jump to the present day, and state governments are again imposing mandates, this time for booster shots. So far, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia have all announced booster mandates coming into effect, whereby those in certain industries will be required to take the booster if they wish to secure their employment. For the second time in months, people’s jobs are being held hostage and used as blackmail.
Since the vaccines began to hit the market, the common argument has been that the mandates are ‘for the greater/common good’ and that ‘we are all in this together’. Both are baseless claims from people who simply do not want to take responsibility for their actions. Allow me to elaborate.
Claiming that mandates are ‘for the greater/common good’ implies that they benefit society. Vaccine mandates do not achieve this. Rather, they create division and the breaking down of relationships, friendships, and ultimately the bonds that hold society itself together. When people lose their jobs, it renders them unable to be a productive member of society and contribute in a way that benefits the ‘health’ of the country.
Additionally, given these vaccines do not prevent infection nor transmission, taking it does not stop one from getting the virus and spreading it to others. The concept of the ‘common good’ is invalid in these circumstances.
Similarly, the claim that ‘we are all in this together’ is futile, if not just downright absurd. It is also insulting, particularly when uttered by politicians who have exempted themselves from vaccine mandates, flout the rules they expect everyone else to follow without consequence, and suffered no loss of income. Furthermore, vaccinated people are being treated like regular human beings, while unvaccinated people are being treated as some kind of subclass of humanity unworthy of participating in society.
There is a line that has been used in past times of tyranny that has again become a common utterance: ‘I’m just doing my job.’ Although this time there are several other iterations of the phrase, many pertaining to employment. Employers have been enforcing vaccine mandates, telling their employees this is how it has to be because that is what they have been told by the government, and that it’s to ‘keep us all safe’.
You are not suddenly invulnerable to the virus just because you are vaccinated. You can still be infected and spread it. So the notion of ‘keeping us all safe’ is devoid of meaning.
But more importantly, the excuses above are nothing more than a lousy evasion of accountability. Employers saying that government mandates are being forced on their business are failing to take responsibility. As business owners, employers are the ones imposing mandates and putting staff in a position where they have to choose between their own personal health decision and their job. Employees should never be bullied into a healthcare choice by their boss, and employers cannot pretend that they hold no responsibility for carrying out state mandates.
As we enter into the time of booster mandates, employers will once again be told to enforce them. If you are an employer and you are considering doing this – think again. ‘I was just following orders’ has never been a valid cop-out.
You, as the employer, have a choice about your workplace. You can choose to put undue pressure on your staff to get a booster shot that does not prevent the virus from spreading. You can choose to put loyal workers out of a job.
Or you can do what only some strong-willed individuals have had the guts to do: you can just say no.
To all those employers, and all those in industries that are going to be affected by the new wave of mandates – you can put your employees first and refuse to do so.
The choice is yours. But make no mistake, whatever you choose to do will be remembered for years to come.
Joel Agius is an independent writer. If you would like to read more of his work, you can do so at JJ’s Outlook.
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