2021 has ended and 2022 has arrived.

And with the arrival of 2022, I’m hearing something familiar. I’m hearing the same sound bites I heard at the end of 2020 “Thank god that year is over” … or … “Last year sucked” … or … “good riddance to that year” … and … “This year must be better”.

2021 did indeed suck for most of us – some more than others, especially if your job/business is caught in the vaccine mandates … and/or you lost income due to lockdowns. But how could 2021 suck if most of us weren’t fans of 2020 and wanted a better 2021? And how is it possible to end up at the end of 2021 reflecting on the end of the year (and hoping 2022 must be better) like we reflected at the end of last year?

Something’s wrong here if most of us wanted a better year and yet that didn’t happen.

And this leads me to an observation that if we don’t learn from 2021, we may well be staring down the barrel of a groundhog year ending 2022 like we ended 2021 and 2020 (or worse).

Personally I don’t want to end 2022 thinking that was a shit year … good riddance … 2023 must be better. I’d much prefer to end 2022 thinking that was better than the prior two years … and not the same or worse. So I’ve been reflecting on this to better understand what’s really going on and what needs to change if we don’t want a repeat in 2022 of what happened in 2021.

To get a different result, you must make different choices

2021 and 2020 happened the way they did because we all behaved individually and collectively in certain ways. And what happened in 2020 and 2021 was the direct result of the choices we all made (or non-choices as the case may be). The result being our current society reflects who we are individually AND collectively, and the individual and collective choices we each make.

This impacts not only us but also society as a whole.

In turn this means that for things to get better we have to make different choices than we did in these last two years. The question is can we? Will we? And is a better 2022 important enough for us to try?

If we’re not prepared to make different choices, it’s unreasonable to expect a different (better?) outcome by the end of 2022.

How happy are you with where things are going?

Right now we should be asking ourselves the following questions:

  • Are we happy with where we are heading? Are we happy with where NZ is heading? Will we be happy with where we end up both individually and collectively?
  • Is the NZ we now live in, the NZ we want? Are we okay with a NZ where those who choose not to be vaccinated are being discriminated against?
  • Are we okay with a NZ where those who are not vaccinated, and who can prove they’re not infected with Covid via testing, are kicked out of society?
  • Are we okay with our leaders making choices for us as a country that result in segregation? Where we lose the inclusivity and blending of cultures and beliefs? Where we don’t even try to find a ‘better’ solution that encompasses all NZ’ers no matter what our health choice?
  • Are we okay with allowing our Government and big pharma to take ownership of our personal immune systems under mandate of law? Which is what has now happened!
  • Are we really okay allowing businesses and Government to fire teachers and medical professionals who served us and our children pre-vaccine in the face of Covid, because they chose not to be vaccinated?

What are we teaching our children…?

If we’re okay with what happened in 2021, then this means we must also be saying we’re okay with the following consequences:

  • We no longer trust each other when it comes to our individual health – i.e. that we no longer trust each other to make the right decision to stay home if we are feeling unwell.
  • You are a danger to society until you prove to me you’re not – i.e. regardless of whether you are healthy or not, infected with Covid or not, you are treated as infected and dangerous until you get and can prove your vaccination status.
  • You must do what you’re told to protect me (because I’m unwilling to do what I have to to protect myself anymore) – i.e. if I feel unsafe for any reason, you must do what is needed so I feel safe.

What is interesting about all these consequences is they all relate to trust (or more importantly, a lack of trust) – both in ourselves and others. And our Government obligingly pushed through laws to plug that gap of trust to “protect and keep us safe”, when ironically, it was our Government and its Press that contributed to creating that lack of trust in the first place.

Today, whether we recognise this or not, our health is no longer ours. Our health now belongs to our boss … our neighbour … our family … and our Government. They now all have a say in our health. And consider this. Today it’s Covid. Tomorrow will it be obesity? Smoking? Will it be free thinking? …

If we are not vaccinated, we will be removed from our jobs. If we are not fully vaccinated (up to date), our Government and everyone else will consider us a risk to society (even if we are not infected). And if we are not vaccinated, we can no longer participate in society like ‘everyone else’.

Are we really okay with this?

From where I am standing … at least 50% of NZ population appears to be more than okay with this exact situation because there has been very little push back. And that’s fine if that’s what society wants … that’s what democracy means. Accepting the majority choice.

But there was no public choice here. There was no vote. Our Government leaders made that choice for all of us with no consultation and little regard for differing opinions (and options). So while most of us implicitly agree to be bound by the unwritten rules of living in a democracy, that doesn’t mean we have to like it. It also doesn’t mean we don’t have other choices – e.g. we could choose to ignore those rules; or we could ‘leave’ and go somewhere else that has societal rules more acceptable to us.

Mandating vaccines is wrong for so many reasons

I know some of you will reject this but I believe our Government mandating the vaccine by way of threat of losing your job (or business) is a huge mistake because:

  1. Our Government has a poor record doing anything they say they are going to do (Kiwibuild ring any bells?) … so forgive me if I’m a bit cynical of them proclaiming ‘one source of truth’ status, and vaccinating everyone will ‘save us’’ In the words of the great Tui billboards … Yeah, right!
  1. This is ‘banning bullrush’ at the adult level. Allowing this to happen crushes individuality, risk-taking, self-responsibility, and it crushes independence … all of which are needed if we are to become all that we are capable of becoming either individually or collectively.
  1. Life doesn’t get easier by making it safer. Life gets easier by getting stronger. We get stronger by building up resilience over a period of time to whatever constrains us. We get weaker by taking away or removing any/all resistance. We should be improving our immune systems by making better and smarter choices. We get stronger finding better solutions to problems no matter how difficult they may appear.
  1. Relying on a vaccine ‘crutch’ to avoid making an effort to live better health choices and take responsibility for our own health makes us lazy and weak … and more dependent on Government and big pharma. It also means future generations will be more dependent on some saviour (Government?) than learning to do things themselves.
  1. The growing lack of trust in ourselves and others feeds the fire of fear. If we can’t trust each other, and we enable fear to drive our decisions, we will no longer be living … we will be existing.
  1. Bullying is now acceptable. Make no mistake – the type of behaviour used by our Government and its Press in mandating the vaccine under the pretext of love and protection is similar to that of abusive relationships. Covid or not, this type of behaviour was deemed by society to be unacceptable pre-2020… but our Government is now doing this to its own people and for the most part the people are taking it.
  1. Decades of fighting against discrimination has been undone – The needs of the many now outweigh the needs of the few, and tough luck if you happen to be the few. Any minorities that dare to challenge such thinking will be ‘removed’ (when they should be valued for their different thinking).

When our Government mandated vaccines (after they earlier said they never would), they broke their word … and simultaneously, they dismissed our Bill of Rights under the justification of the Covid emergency. What this highlights is that our Bill of Rights is meaningless to our Government.

Our leaders should have shown the integrity their position requires, honouring their previous word to not mandate the vaccines … and instead find a better option that didn’t trample on our freedoms as kiwis … freedoms earned by the blood sweat and tears of our ancestors.

In the event our Government was unable (maybe unwilling?) to find a better option then we, the team of five million New Zealanders should have defended our Rights like our ancestors did before us. We should have collectively said “let’s not do this” and challenged our Government to come up with something better. But we didn’t. Which begs the question: If we won’t fight to save the same freedoms our ancestors paid their lives for, is there anything of any real meaning we would be willing to sacrifice our lives for now as a country?

“People who have no values have no value” Burton Hill

The consequences of sacrificing our values, our rights, our freedoms are already observable:

  • The vision of the team of five million is dying (if not already dead). We, the people, should not have accepted our Government giving us the right to fire people who didn’t get vaccinated. The fact very few businesses and very few people stood up to this proves NZ is dying (if not already dead).
  • There is no ethical framework that supports the firing of people we earlier trusted, we employed, and those who relied on us to provide them with ways to share their lives in ways that contributed to society (teachers, doctors, nurses, police …).
  • We have forgotten (or maybe rejected) that our Government exists to serve us the people, not the other way around. This highlights how we may have become too lazy to do what’s necessary anymore (because it just feels too hard), and instead, we welcome any easy way out (at our eventual peril).
  • We lack accountability, ownership and responsibility for ourselves anymore. Instead, we’re leaning towards blaming others for whatever ails us – e.g. ‘Covid is your problem not mine so you must get vaccinated’… or … ‘the unvaccinated are responsible for the lack of my freedoms and for making us unsafe’. We will never grow stronger by blaming everyone else for our own individual and collective failures when the truth is our failures are always the result of what we do or don’t do.

I believe if we don’t fix this in 2022, we will never recover. If NZ is unable (or unwilling) to do this, the NZ I grew up in – the NZ I thought I lived in – will be dead! What then remains, won’t be good for us as collectively or individually. It will undermine our culture and increase our fear of each other.

Can we change? Do we want to change?

When thinking about our New Year’s resolutions for 2022, and the changes we want to make for 2022, please consider both yourself and your country. And while it is true our country, New Zealand, has ‘left’ some of us behind now, that does not mean we should ignore her out of spite and not do anything to save her.

The question isn’t whether 2022 will be better than 2021. The real question is are we going to do anything differently if we want a better 2022 for both us AND the country we all live in and I hope, still love?

I’m hoping so … because I still believe:

  • We can fix this.
  • The country I call home is strong enough to trust both themselves and each other again.
  • We deserve better from the leaders who were voted in, and them honouring our Bill of Rights no matter the challenge. Covid or otherwise.
  • We value each other enough to never allow ANYONE to divide or discriminate against us.

We can do better than this. I know 100% in my heart and soul we can.

The question I have though is, whether or not we can trust ourselves, our neighbours, our fellow workmates. Are we are prepared to demand better from our politicians and employers, and will we stand up with others to collectively remind the Government of their duty to all of us – not just whatever groups the Government deems worthy.

Realise that we all have the choice to lie in the bed our Government (and others who enabled this) made. We can choose a different path. We can choose a path that is true to living life without fear, less dependant on Government, and more focussed on building community for everyone regardless of race, gender, class, sex, religion, and vaccination status.

If you can’t see the different path … if you don’t know how to get off the path you’re currently on … if you don’t know how to change the direction you’re going … ask for help. And who do you ask for help from? The first place to look is anyone who didn’t fire unvaccinated employees … and anyone who is serving vaccinated AND unvaccinated customers. It is those of us who represent the last refuges of the real values our country should stand for.

I wish you all the best of luck for 2022 because from where I am standing I think we’re all going to need it. I don’t believe 2022 will be any better nor easier than 2021 nor 2020 … unless the team of five million is ready to hold hands (not elbow bumping) together and do what’s necessary to honour and respect the Kiwi values that once meant something. Here’s hoping!

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