Sunday 29 August 2021

Young men dying for a conspiracy of disbelief

Wise men in their conceits

Lately, I have been reading of people dying from CoVID-19 who from the reports associated with their deaths suggest they need not have died.

A search for Caleb Wallace, 30, of Texas reveals unfortunate notoriety of Coronavirus conspiracy theories and trenchant activism against pandemic safety measures the possible flouting of which might have led to his contracting the virus, his hospitalisation, and consequent unnecessary death. [Insider]

Here in the UK, we read of Marcus Birks, 40, of Leek, Staffordshire, who did not get vaccinated because he was sceptical about the Coronavirus. When he contracted the virus, he fell so ill, was hospitalised and he died, on Friday. [BBC News]

Sift acquired knowledge

In none of these cases do I read that these young men who have young families, the latter is survived by a pregnant wife; are public health experts, epidemiologists, virologists, or have qualifications in any medical field. At best, they were dilettantes who seemed to be convinced of whatever informal knowledge they had acquired and staked their lives on it.

Obviously, we must allow everyone the courage of their convictions even if out of folly. To the individual, whatever decisions they make are purely ones of personal responsibility. However, if you are a family man, whatever personal convictions you have must be taken in the context of the broader consequence of acting on that determination.

Choose the avoidable given the choice

I do not believe a man of 30 or 40, for that matter, planned to die and leave behind a family on the principle of disbelieving the science and the evidence that can keep them alive. Even where that matter of principle exists, accounting for the risk of possible death, there must be some reconsideration of the options to err on the side of caution rather than reckless bravado.

You have to wonder if taking the vaccines might have saved the lives of these young men, if wearing masks and social distancing might have given them a chance to live. If curbing the enthusiasm for notoriety out of purveying conspiracy theories, withdrawing to reassess the situation and recant ones stand before it is too late might have resulted in a different story.

It gives one no comfort to learn of these evidently avoidable deaths out of reckless self-endangerment informed by conspiracy against the facts that suggest the slightest chance of survival in the time of a pandemic. We must avoid the tendency to Schadenfreude as we sadly grief what to all intents could have been a different story. If options present the avoidable where responsibility extends beyond us, then the avoidable must be the choice against the regrettable.

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