Then and Now

Historically speaking, there was an era in Europe when people who did not follow a prescribed way of thought were deemed a danger to the public and accused as witches. Believe it or not, many innocent lives were burned at the stake, with the leaders of that time even performing experiments to prove whether these “witches” would float to the surface of a river or not. It surely must’ve been a horrible sight to witness! Aren’t we grateful that we no longer belong to the 1500s?

Well, fast forward to today—people are supposedly so much kinder, more knowledgeable, and way sophisticated, so… why, then, do many still “burn at the stake” the unvaccinated-by-choice by branding them as “a menace to society,” grouping them together with “flat-earthers” (whose arguments have nothing to do with vaccination)? It seems that anyone who refuses to take the shot these days is automatically thought of as ignorant and uncaring, when that is far from the truth.

Seriously now…do the unvaccinated-by-choice really not care for the safety and health of others? This is not to say that getting vaccinated is wrong, as I’ve had a host of other vaccines in my childhood; but, if we took the time to read current scientific studies on natural immunity vs. COVID-19 vaccines, we’d learn that those who have had the virus in the past actually develop antibodies which surpass the efficacy of two shots from even well-known vaccines. Moreover, an infectious diseases study published by The Lancet proves to show that even the fully vaccinated are not exempt from contracting and transmitting Covid to others.

Weighing Things Carefully

Having said all this, I am not here to contest whether COVID-19 vaccines are beneficial or not. To be fair, I still respect those who choose to be protected by the jab; they have their reasons. As a human being and a Christian, I can’t bring myself to think of stripping away their civil liberties (apart from a short quarantine protocol) if they were found to be COVID-positive. BUT, if what The Lancet has said about the fully vaccinated being able to transmit the virus to other fully vaxxed contacts is true (which I’m pretty sure is the case), then a burning question we need to ask is: WHY single out the unvaccinated-by-choice?

How, then, can the unvaccinated be outlaws if they haven’t even broken the Philippine constitution in the first place? How also are they being “protected” if 1) there are scientific studies showing just how strong an unvaccinated survivor’s immune system is, and 2) the measure to “keep the unvaccinated safe” is discriminative? Case in point, I know of an indigent couple in the province who remain unvaccinated due to valid health reasons, and yet are prohibited from even going out to buy food and are currently going hungry. How many more are like them or even worse off? In light of these two very real scenarios, let us ask ourselves as rational and humane citizens: Why can’t survivors be allowed to show authorities their C-Pass (antibody test) result instead of a vaccination ID, so they can live normal lives? And, how come restrictions have to be enforced so unreasonably, particularly among the poor and needy?

Ponder on this with me for a moment: Regardless of whether they were survivors or not, ALL the unvaccinated-by-choice have NOT been allowed to travel around and outside the country NOR eat inside restaurants in the past months. Therefore, how can we hold fast to the prejudice that these people are the COVID-19 spreaders just because the majority say so and applaud this lockdown of the unvaccinated as “much-deserved punishment”? In psychology, that’s called gaslighting. Last time I checked, gaslighting is not–and will never be–of God.

The Choice of Love

Would people rather that history repeat itself (in terms of control, tyranny, and scapegoating) than us studying balanced, scientific facts in-depth and with democratic means? Maybe, just maybe, if we chose the latter, we’d find that this minority are down-to-earth, intelligent human beings who care very much for the safety of their family and society, love their homeland, the Philippines, and do not deserve an unfair house arrest (and, yes, agree wholeheartedly that the earth is round, too).

At the end of the day, after asking all of these tough, albeit essential, questions on behalf of 30 million unvaccinated Filipinos (a ballpark figure disclosed by the Malacanang last Jan. 12, 2022), it all boils down to hearing God’s voice and never being apathetic to the plight of others. And for me, aside from being a voice for the voiceless and a peacemaker between the vaxxed and unvaxxed, this personally means choosing to be still, waiting on God, and delighting in Him while in this “lockdown of the unvaccinated.” In the midst of my feelings of helplessness (and even at times, fear), I surrender to the Lord’s plans just as my heroes of the faith, Joseph (the Dreamer) and Daniel did. For as long as I know that I am under the shadow of God’s wings, and He loves me far above all I can ask or imagine, God’s Truth is the answer that sustains me in the midst of this oppression.

Joan Elizabeth Agawa

Joannie is the eldest daughter of award-winning songwriter and jingle specialist, Pastor Moses Carlos B. Agawa. She is a top-tier Business-English Coach and a member of the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (though she likes to point out that her views are entirely her own and unrelated to any organization). Having majored in Diplomacy & International Relations at Messiah College, she now uses her know-how in teaching communication skills to clients from all over the globe.

When Joannie isn’t teaching or checking in on her Bible study group, she loves to work out, sing J-Pop and Chinese songs, and play with the family dogs.