Symbolic Insignia Indicative of Global Health
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 21 Jun 2021
Immunity Passports, Travel Worthiness and Certificates of Wholth
21 Jun 2021 – Recommendations, development and implementation of some form of “immunity passport” are ever more widely evident, potentially to be required for entry to public buildings, health facilities, public transport, educational institutions, or to obtain employment. (Tony Allen-Mills: Covid Passports: a freedom certificate that may get the world travelling again (Sunday Times, 17 January 2021; Darius Tahir, How vaccine ‘passports’ could go wrong, Politico, 3 February 2021; IATA Travel Pass for Travelers, IATA, March 2021). Bills for mandatory vaccination have been considered for legislation, including California Senate Bill 277 and Australia’s No Jab No Pay, all of which have been strenuously opposed by anti-vaccination activists.
Such certification has been criticized by human rights bodies as a form of Trojan Horse enabling other restrictive measures (Debate swirls on use of virus ‘immunity passports‘, MedicalXpress, 29 April 2020; Should People Without Coronavirus Antibodies Be Second-Class Citizens?, The New York Times, 28 April 2020). These, together with their implications, are discussed separately in more general terms (Licensed to Live? Licensed to Lie? Unlicensed to Die? 2021).
To the extent that these would take the form of official documents, necessarily authorised by the highest authority, of some interest is the symbolic significance of the insignia these will bear — as with the covers of more conventional passports. Given the implications for global health, the current status of national passports evokes other questions. In that case, each sovereign nation emits its own passport with its own unique insignia. Passports typically display the national coat of arms of the issuing country on the front cover. The United Nations keeps a record of national coats of arms, but displaying a coat of arms is currently not an internationally recognized requirement for a passport.
There is no corresponding global passport, except to the extent that officials of the United Nations systems may be understood to carry a document of some such form — as an extension of the practice with respect to diplomatic passports whereby a degree of diplomatic immunity is guaranteed.. The European Union is exceptional in providing for a common format for a EU passport — with some adaptation for individual member countries.
Efforts to seek universal recognition of a global citizens passport — a World Passport — have been unsuccessful, although it continues to be produced by the World Service Authority. The situation with respect to what could be considered variously analogous to passports as a “right of movement” across boundaries is equally problematic — most obviously in the case of global recognition of academic degrees, certification of practitioners of disciplines, claims to titles of nobility, and the like. Tendencies to circumvent such lack of universality are evident in bilateral arrangements and those within professional societies according mutual recognition. In many such cases, any recognition by a group asserting some global claim results in a document with an associated insignia.
These examples frame the question as to whether “passport” calls for a more general interpretation than the conventional case. References to “certificate” suggest an extension to some notion of right of entry. This itself raises issues with respect to freedom of movement as provided by various international treaties — with respect to traversing national boundaries. Is an immunity passport, or the failure to acquire one, a constraint on freedom of movement — as is only too evident in the constraints on passport holders of some nations?
Potentially more intriguing is the right of entry to groups protective of their identity and integrity, whether professional bodies, clubs, secret societies, or the like. From that perspective the “health” which is the current focus of immunity passports itself merits more general interpretation. Relative lack of expertise or appropriate insight could then be understood as analogous to some form of “disease” with respect to a higher order of integrity. Tendencies in that direction are evident in the deprecation of any but the most awarded chefs, wine-makers, perfume-makers, or jewellers. Similar deprecation is accorded to unsuccessful CEOs and generals whose strategies leave much to be desired.
Given the extension of “health” to psychological conditions — as detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — there is a case for understanding “unhealthy” behaviours as similarly precluding any global certification of the health of an individual. This would follow from the traditional association of sanity with health — framed by the ideal of Mens sana in corpore sano. Should “passports” be accorded to those with a criminal record — as an exemplification of behavioural unhealthiness, however that may be authoritatively defined.
Taken together there is then a fruitful challenge to recognizing how integrative appreciation of “global” by an individual is the essence of health — more generally understood in systemic terms. This could even be understood as cognitive embodiment. With the psychological health of leaders of nations — including world leaders — authoritatively recognized to be unhealthy, it is appropriate to ask to what degree they themselves should be endowed with a “passport”. Potentially of greater relevance is their implication in spreading the unhealthy panic so problematically associated with any pandemic (COVID-19 as a Memetic Disease — an epidemic of panic, 2020).
The challenge is all the greater to the extent that the corruption for which leaders are so frequently indicted can be interpreted as a form of “disease” more broadly understood. This interpretation has become only too readily accepted through the framing of any form of dissidence as a “disease”, notably resulting in confinement to mental institutions in some cases.
The conventional focus on physical disease — as in the current pandemic — can then be understood as a form of misplaced concreteness. This is potentially dangerous in obscuring the root causes of such symptoms. This understanding does not preclude the manner in which any “local” reality may be understood “globally”.
It is from this perspective that the symbolic significance of insignia merits careful attention when it is the authorising reference on any document certifying “health” — with its implication of immunity from disease.
The potential implications are all the more important to the extent that any quest for a global travel document — a passport — merits recognition as a relatively unconscious effort to develop an enabling articulation for a civilization variously held to be faced with collapse. Does civilization require a more general articulation of health to signal its ability to pass through the associated crisis of crises — to be “reborn” according to current inspiration for a new Renaissance? (Post-Apocalyptic Renaissance of Global Civilization: engaging with otherness otherwise? 2018; Challenges of Renaissance: suggestive pattern of concerns in the light of the birth metaphor, 2003)
As a more provocative speculation, it might be asked whether extraterrestrial civilizations effectively require such an assessment of global health as a condition of acceptance into a galactic community — and the right to travel within it (Anticipation of Judicial Inquisition of Humans by Extraterrestrials, 2021). Such a requirement might follow from a global adaptation of the much-cited response of Mahatma Gandhi: Global civilization would be a good idea.
Tags: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Freedom, Justice, Vaccine Passports
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