You'll Never Walk Alone
It’s almost time to provide the background story for DRASTIC. In the meantime, however, it’s also a good time to share a message that I first shared with my fellow investigators a year ago, because my gut tells me that whether you’re a front-line doctor, part of the Intellectual Dark Web, or a normal human being, you’re tired of constant narratives and balkanization, too. We’ve come a long way, and big things are happening, but all of us can get burned out when every channel is showing a raging dumpster fire.
Here’s some advice I gave my international band of fellow freedom-fighters:
What a ‘unique’ assortment of characters D.R.A.S.T.I.C. is; it’s a shame the world has had such a great example of a diverse, broadly experienced, tightly focused [on 12 different things at time] & intensely curious research team, yet for the most part it has ignored or disregarded us because we weren’t establishment virologists. To be honest, that’s why we’re getting things done, lol.
I realize that I am the latecomer, and so it might seem presumptuous for me to pretend to understand 2020 DRASTIC when I wasn’t around for all of your early misadventures, but I’m only here now because of what you did then. It was May 2020 when things slowed down enough for me to approach the origin question, and it was your breadcrumbs that I followed throughout.
Every day I’d search ‘COVID origins’ or “SARS-CoV-2 origins,” and I found:
-Dan’s blog stuff & his joint paper-Mona & Rahul’s early pre-prints-Rossana’s questions to the old guard on Virological back in March-Yuri’s articles [Ironically, I’d already read some of his work, regarding J. Calment]-the 2013 thesis & 2016 dissertation-Nerdhaspower’s blog-Daoyu’s stuff on Zenodo-etc.
I observed ZLS’s grudging admittance of the miner story, Baric’s 5-years late addition of the SHC014 sequence, and many other adventures before I discovered that DRASTIC was behind all of it - even the miner thesis that I originally assumed was Latham’s discovery.
And, like you, I was driven by the need to discover what had happened - as well as the need to tell others, before the truth was buried forever. I didn't have to know exactly ‘what’ that truth was to understand that what Peter Daszak was peddling was designed simply to obstruct it.
I threw myself into it with no expectation of profit - in fact I've spent a lot of money, whilst unemployed, because it's that important. I have no doubts that I'm preaching to the choir here. And as such, I felt driven to share a message that I recently wrote just to one of you, because I think a quasi - outside perspective would be beneficial in this hectic period. It's possible that you'll find this to be overwrought, sentimental bullshit, lol, but my Marines would tell you that that's not my style. I try to call things like I see them.
This will end someday, likely sooner than we think. Ultimately, there's only so much more than can be done beyond the scope of global politics, and one of the two big victories has already been won [forcing the world to admit there’s a problem].
I've been fortunate enough to experience fruits of long labors and put deep time investments into people and goals - not all of which have ended successfully [failure is a good teacher too]. I've tried to figure out ways to keep the momentum going, because I know how difficult it is to fight against determined resistance. Whether that's been keeping the research churning, sorting through the haystack to organize the needles, or even just watching what the opposition says - the current goal has been to build and refine the narrative, so that it's more accessible and relevant [a long and continuous process, because more info keeps coming in, of course].
I guess the best advice I could give is to just remember that you set your own expectations [in this]. As much as I push myself these days, I try to remember that whatever is still left to do doesn't negate the things I’ve already done. The only way to be able to continue effectively is to keep stoking the fire that drives you. Sometimes that means stepping back and taking a deep breath. I'm fairly confident that sans DRASTIC's work last year there would be no global momentum or discussion to do anything else. That tells me that this was the foxhole worth jumping into to assist. Unless literally everything we know today is wrong, your efforts have helped change the near-term course of world events.
I've been fortunate to have made changes in dozens of young peoples’ lives, and that's an honor most can't meet Jesus with [if they even tried]. I can say that if the effort it took to do that has always felt worth it, you'll be able to sit down some day and know that you've made a difference that's historic in scope. As an experienced leader [and as an historian] I can confidently say that there's only so many other things in life that could possibly be experienced by anyone that could be more fulfilling than to have expended such drastic effort in defense of a just cause.
The Cost of Sacrifice
The irony is that very few people are actually willing to sacrifice much of anything in pursuit of something bigger than themselves, regardless of the goal. We don’t have to look very far to know
My guess is that there's at least:
A billion people [likely 3-4] who know some crazy shit went down in Wuhan and are waiting to see if anything will ever happen.
There's millions of politicians, academics, journalists and scientists who have the ability to dig deeper into the pandemic but are afraid or unwilling to do so.
There's some small percentage of them that currently are looking into it.
But, there's a much smaller number that are willing to do it in the face of resistance.
And only a fraction of those who are willing to do it with persistence.
Until late January I had never actually communicated with anyone else who felt that way. After 3-4 months, I'd estimate that some fraction >1% of the world's 'persistence' is working with DRASTIC. Some number >25% [outside China] is somehow linked to DRASTIC. 50% of the evidence behind the Congressional inquiries ultimately can be traced back. I'm learning that there's even people among the 'persistence' that are willing to weaken the effort so that, when the struggle ends, the team receiving the trophy has the appropriate 'look' and pedigree. After subtracting all of that, the number of people who've lost sleep, sacrificed opportunities, missed other moments, set aside other's expectations, adjusted daily routines, read the broad literature, engaged vocal opponents, convinced skeptics, sacrificed opportunities, refused to compromise - that number is tiny.
Because of all that, there are very few travelers along el otro sendero, the other path, the narrow way, the road less traveled. No one stumbles upon it by accident, and that means the journey is often lonely; thus, the need for and impact of fellow travelers is magnified, for better and for worse. You eventually see people's true motivations, because keeping up appearances is too draining to maintain forever; perhaps that explains why cracks are emerging amongst the fellowship as we journey to Mordor. Anyone who doesn't appreciate the value of their companions this close to Mount Doom is traveling for the wrong reasons.
More than anything, I've learned ἐὰν γὰρ καὶ πορευθῶ ἐν μέσῳ σκιᾶς θανάτου οὐ φοβηθήσομαι κακά ὅτι σὺ μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ. It's the last phrase that often get left out, even though it’s the most important part. Regardless of whether one is religious, the wisdom is utterly true:
'Though I walk through the valley of death's shadow, I shall not fear evil - for you are with me.'
It doesn’t mean that we can’t do everything by ourselves, but it does mean that burdens are much easier to bear when shared. It might seem ironic to say that, given that DRASTIC is literally ‘decentralized' - but distance doesn’t have to mean distant.
Having come across DRASTIC along the way, and knowing how difficult the journey is, I quickly came to realize that this is a group fighting the good fight - for the right reasons [I didn't get much more done with that section I was working on tonight, because I was typing this, but that's okay] People aren't inspired by facts, they're inspired by people, and what you've done is force dozens of the world's most powerful nations to face a truth they wanted to forget. There's no specific project you've completed you've completed for DRASTIC that's more important than the combined impact of the cause. That's what people will remember, and what you must not forget, because frustration isn't inspiration. No matter what has happened along the way, this decentralized radical hyperactive collective is only as just as the cause it fights in defense of - let that remain our focus
Robert Frost reminds us that the right choice is always worth it:
"I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by
- and that has made all the difference."
Sounds a lot like he understood that el otro sendero was worth it. I know it's true, but every now and then it's worth hearing again. Know that what you're doing has made all the difference.