Jessica Berg Wilson’s death shouldn’t have happened

One of the things that COVID and the vaccines have brought to the fore is the fact that, even in the third decade of the 21st century, as the Book of Common Prayer says, “in the midst of life, we are in death.” In the modern age, it’s been easy to forget that fact. But what if it’s government or other third-party dictates that are forcing that death upon us, rather than our free choice as citizens in a supposed free country. What then?

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville wrote about rope, specifically the ropes attached to harpoons. A whale would be sighted, the men would row out, and harpoons would start flying. Since ropes were attached at one end to the harpoon and at the other end to the boat, this endeavor could end with a boat being dragged with all hands to the bottom of the sea or towed out of sight, never to be seen again. Melville mused that we all live with whale lines wrapped around us, for life is inherently dangerous:

All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side.

Personally, I think he was right about that. However, most people would prefer their cozy corner to a rowboat under the shadow of a whale. It’s all about risk and how much risk a person is willing to tolerate. No one should be forced to take a risk they don’t want to.

On September 7, 2021, Jessica Berg Wilson died from a risk she was not willing to take but was coerced into. Her obituary photo shows a lovely young woman in the prime of life, with sparkling eyes and a big smile. Jessica was a loving wife and mother who served as a room mom at her children’s school. She had big plans to be the best mother ever for her two little daughters, Bridget and Clara.

All that was taken away from her by a vaccine mandate at her children’s school. Jessica didn’t think she was putting her life on the line to continue to be involved with Bridget and Clara’s education. She was opposed to the vaccine because she didn’t feel she needed it, considering that she was young and healthy and a stay-at-home mom. Nevertheless, the district spoke and if Jessica wanted to go on being a room mom at the school, she would have to get the vaccine.

Jessica complied with the mandate. She received a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, became ill, and went to the emergency room. She was given a COVID test and sent home with no treatment. Once at home, she lost consciousness and was taken back to the hospital by ambulance, where she was diagnosed with Vaccine-induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT). It was too late at that point to save her. She was 37 years old.

Twitter censored Jessica’s obituary, labeling it as misinformation. No one could like or share the obituary until a massive backlash forced the social media giant to capitulate to the truth. Snopes was willing to admit the vaccine killed Jessica but also felt compelled to point out that VITT is a very rare side effect and that 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been given. I suppose the point is that it would take one hundred and fifty thousand deaths to add up to one percent of all people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson.

However, that is not relevant. Some people would look at one percent of deaths from a vaccine and shrug and say they still want the vaccine. Others would look at just one death from a vaccine and decide they don’t want it. It’s all about how tolerant a person is to risk.

There are people who jump out of planes and swim with great white sharks and people who do yoga or take art classes. Some people drive cross country in cars that other people would be afraid to take around the block.

All people should be free to decide how much risk they are willing to take with their own life. That freedom was taken away from Jessica. An elementary school is a world of stubby scissors and fat crayons. It shouldn’t be a world of whale-ropes, where the wrong choice costs you your life.

Pandra Selivanov is the author of Future Slave, a story about a black 21st century teenager who is sent back in time and becomes a slave in the old south.

Image: Jessica Berg Wilson’s photograph from her online obituary.

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