This is the first and last time that I will address this topic, until circumstances change. I know it’s controversial, but well, to quote Omar Little, “A man must have a code.”
I have just canceled a planned speaking engagement at a major industry conference because I have learned that the conference instituted a policy requiring either proof of COVID vaccination or a recent proof of negative test result in order to attend.
The 7DS COVID policy is that we have no policy: Sunny and I both believe that people have the right to choose to do or not do whatever they consider to be in their best interest. We neither promote nor condemn any particular approach by anybody, because frankly, it’s none of our business. If you want to wear a mask, do it; if you don’t, don’t. If you’re triple vaccinated, good for you; if you’re not, good for you. If you choose to attend crowded events, that’s your choice; if you choose to do it via Zoom, that’s also your choice.
Vaccinated or not, you’re welcome at my table. Masked up or not, I’d be happy to have a drink with you… though you’d be hard pressed to keep that mask on while sipping on a cocktail, but hey, you do you.
Having said that, mandates are not choices. It doesn’t much matter to me whether those mandates are coming from the government, or from a company or organization imposing them voluntarily. I regard requiring proof of vaccination to be immoral, unethical and deeply un-American. “Show me your papers” is something that happens in North Korea. It does not and cannot happen in the United States of America.
I believe these mandates to be the equivalent to a new kind of religious persecution, since many of those who choose not to get vaccinated nor to produce papers do so out of deeply considered beliefs. Many have spent hours researching the topic until they have drawn their own conclusions. It does not matter that I might disagree with their conclusions; it doesn’t matter that I think their beliefs are based on falsehoods. What matters is that they hold those beliefs, and act out of those beliefs.
Accordingly, I cannot in good conscience help companies engage in that kind of discrimination, no more than I could help companies or organizations engage in discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Atheists. I won’t do it. They are private companies and have every right to conduct their business as they see fit; I do not condemn them, as I know how difficult some of the choices are.
However, I have every right not to help those events be more interesting, more educational, or more successful. I have every right not to help companies engaging in discrimination be more successful. That is our policy.
I have received a number of invitations to speak at events from now into next year; I will honor existing agreements, of course. But I will be reaching out to organizers individually to see if they are imposing any kind of discriminatory mandate, and if so, will seek to cancel those engagements.
I am happy to participate in all-virtual, all-in person, or hybrid events… as long as there are no mandates from the company. Vaccine mandate? Show papers or proof of some arbitrary status? Sorry; can’t do it. And frankly, I’m not sorry.
I realize this is a gesture. It’s a stone into the ocean. I realize that to most of you, I am just a random blogger on the internet, and many event organizers might be delighted that they no longer have to consider me as a possible speaker.
That’s fine. If that’s the price I have to pay, so be it. This issue has now become bigger than me and I have to take a stand. So here I stand.
There is a part of me that hopes other speakers, teachers, coaches, influencers, and leaders join me in rejecting top-down mandates and embracing individual choice. Sanity must be restored somehow, and a long journey begins with a single step by a single man. But if not, that’s okay too.
I might only have one match… but…