Why I still feel a loss of freedom from the pandemic restrictions

A right of reply to Tim Costello

Tony Couper writes in support of Christians who oppose vaccine mandates.

Tim Costello asked Eternity readers to “Beware the Ezekiel Declaration’s ‘Sowing seeds of vaccine hesitancy” in September.

Mr Costello is been a respected figure within the Christian community. An influential figure and in my estimation someone who could bring a welcome degree of objectivity and unity to the Covid 19 discussion. Disappointingly I fear his article has achieved neither. In fact, I would go so far as to say it has only served to widen an already gaping divide.

In his critical assessment of the Ezekiel Declaration, in my view, Mr Costello failed to address any of the concerns raised such as the collateral damage associated with lockdowns and the violation of basic human rights, and instead opted to adopt a series of straw man arguments to discredit the signatories of the declaration and those identified as vaccine-hesitant and freedom advocates.

He focuses on the emotion of fear, implying the signatories of the declaration were hypocritical in this regard despite there being no mention of “fear” in the Ezekiel declaration itself. For example, he refers to the legitimate concerns related to lockdowns as a “fear” of lockdowns due to the associated “mental health and economic restraints”. To denigrate anyone raising these concerns by referring to them as being unnecessarily “fearful” is unempathetic and divisive.

What disturbs me most about Mr Costello’s article is summed up in his final paragraph:

“So which leaders should Christians trust? Those leaders who are thinking of others, not themselves. Leaders who are not trumpeting their libertarian rights. Those leaders caring for the welfare of the whole community and are prepared to put their self-interests aside for the benefit of others. We are all in this together and we need to walk the path towards coming through it together.”

Reducing the arguments proposed in the declaration as “selfish” suggests to me that Mr Costello has no intention to bring unity, rather to cultivate guilt in those who fail to toe the government line.

He binds threads of Biblical truth to what I regard as misrepresentations of the Ezekiel Declaration to undermine the opposing argument and the Judeo-Christian foundations that underpin our Common Law societies.

What Mr Costello calls an “individualist libertarian ethic” I would argue is an inalienable right of every man, woman, and child on this planet, protected by various international human rights charters and the Nuremberg Code. I would also argue that while these rights are not explicitly protected by the Australian Constitution, the power to enact laws should remain exclusively with the people (representatives) via the parliamentary process. This necessitates debate, accountability, and a significant degree of protection against potential human rights violations.

Freedom and inalienable rights are grounded in Biblical truth; that every human being; every individual on this planet is a child of God, and therefore of innate and inestimable worth. A worth that is seated at the level of the individual first and foremost and must be protected.

Common law countries function as constitutionally protected democracies and not autocracies. We all contribute to dictating the direction of our nation via the democratic process however there is a line that must never be crossed if these values mean anything to us.

This line is clearly outlined in the ten commandments which can be summed up simply by “Thou shalt not trespass.” Human rights charters and our constitution were created to be the defence against the violation of this line. When a society removes this protection; when it elevates the “collective” over the individual there remain no constraints over what measures can be employed for the “greater good”. While the initial intentions may be noble, societies that have embraced this path have frequently affected outcomes that are both dehumanizing and abhorrent. The 20th century is littered with examples of this: the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China and Cambodia among many others.

While I agree in part with Mr Costello’s statement that “the message of Scripture is always about the needs of the other person….” I fear he has misused this principle and bypassed a fundamental premise of the scriptures. The message of placing others first was always delivered as an encouragement or exhortation and never via state or church-sanctioned laws, forcing or coercing people’s behaviour. True kindness must always be a love mediated act of free will.

In my estimation, Mr Costello’s views are grounded in a utilitarian, collectivist philosophy, justifying the violation of individual human rights; the “crossing of the line” for the sake of the greater good and so-called public health. Let me assure you, this philosophy carried in draconian government edicts and fuelled by the mainstream media risks leading to the dehumanization of anyone who opposes the mainstream Covid narrative.

These inalienable rights and the mechanisms created by our forebears to protect these rights have been put aside for the sake of the “greater good”.

How do you ask? The State of Emergency powers provided by the 2015 BioSecurity Act and the respective legislation implemented by the States have facilitated and “justified” the authoritarian rule our country has been subjected to for nearly two years and counting. While one may argue this legislation was legitimately enacted via the parliamentary process this does not nullify the consequences of imposing draconian restrictions.

I am steadfast in my view that mandatory vaccination either by coercion or force is unequivocally “trespass” and a violation not only of our nations underlying values but the very values that God has written into the fabric of reality and expressed in the Biblical narrative.

For those who would say that our government would not “force” a person to be vaccinated, please be informed that there while we remain under a state of emergency, there are no constraints on the measures deemed necessary in the name of “public health”. The West Australian Public Health Act of 2016, section 158 states it more specifically! “Legally” the government can force vaccinate you. The legislation even states that your clothes can be forcibly removed for the purposes of administering a vaccine. Is this not trespass against a living human being?

It saddens me to see the support among the Christian community for the draconian measures undertaken by our government. But sadder still is what I see as a growing vehement attack, directed at those opposed to these measures. This is not surprising considering the mainstream media has done an excellent job of propagating this narrative.

Even Christians, if not careful, can fail to recognise the erosion of long held values. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a man who knew firsthand the capacity of man to commit evil once said: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

During the life of any heart, this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. Socrates taught us: ‘Know thyself!”

It is not out of malevolence that good people fall prey to this, but fear and ignorance. Fear is an extremely powerful motivator, driving us to seek safety and security, often so strong it causes us to sacrifice things we would never have contemplated previously. I am reminded of a Benjamin Franklin quote which I believe is as applicable today as it was back then: Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”.

I fear we are on the cusp of not only obliterating our freedoms but losing our very souls in the process, sacrificing our values and committing to a future laden with unbearable regret. I pray this is not the path we choose to tread.

Tony Couper is currently employed as a construction manager for a civil engineering design company in SE Queensland. He spent two years at the New Tribes College in Sydney.