Truth and Vaccinations

Erin O’Toole, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

First, let’s clear up the not-much-of-a-controversy about Bill Gates and his nefarious plan to use vaccines as a vehicle to insert microchips into people so that shadowy powerful people like him can track our every movement.

According to the BBC, 28% percent of Americans believe this crap. In what should come as no surprise to anyone, that figure rises to 44% among Republicans.

I don’t know why anyone would want to track that particular 28% of the population unless it was part of a study of the mental health dynamics that arise when paranoia is coupled with stupidity.

Even if Bill Gates had such a plan, the microchips would be riddled with bugs, like everything else that came out of Microsoft during his tenure. People would get wise the second they heard an inner voice emanating from the microchips telling them to download a critical software update.

For me, getting the COVID-19 vaccine was a no-brainer. Historically, vaccinations have a better track record than most human endeavors. Smallpox has been eradicated. Polio has been eliminated in the United States. Thanks to tetanus shots, I don’t have to worry much when I do something stupid with a screwdriver.

It also helps to be married to a carpenter’s daughter who won’t let me touch her tools.

In addition to calculating that the odds would be in my favor once the scientists figured it out, I also felt a sense of urgency because of the sheer virulence of the disease. The rapidly rising death toll astonished me and the stories of people who experienced the horrors of COVID-19 convinced me that there was no way in hell a vaccine could be worse than this disease.

But most importantly, I felt comfortable with my decision because it was in perfect sync with my beliefs on the subject of responsibility.

I believe that all human beings have three basic responsibilities:

  • Responsibility to oneself
  • Responsibility to others
  • Responsibility to our communities (by “community” I mean any and every manifestation thereof)

By getting vaccinated, I covered all three responsibilities. I was responsible to myself, because I can’t do anyone much good if I croak before my time. I was responsible to the other people around me by supporting their right to live full and rewarding lives. And I was responsible to my communities (neighborhood, city, county, state, nation, shared interest groups) by doing my part to make them safer.

The trick is to find the right balance between those three responsibilities. If you’re only responsible to yourself, you’re a narcissist. If you’re only responsible to others, you lose any sense of identity. If you’re only responsible your community, you become a martyr for the cause.

The BBC talked to three Americans who were losing their jobs because they refused to obey vaccination mandates implemented by their employers. The article shines a bright light on the current challenges we face in regards to responsibility.

Former Employee A objected on religious grounds: “My beliefs are religious. I believe that my creator endowed me with an immune system that protects me, and if I get sick, that’s an act of God. I would not take a medicine that affects the immune system.” It’s unsurprising that this idiot is a state representative for the Republican Party; it’s only somewhat shocking that she’s a registered nurse possessing a stunning ignorance of physiology. An irresponsible martyr to the cause if there ever was one.

Former Employee B is (er, was) a teacher. His rationale is “I do not use any kind of synthetic ingredients in my life, whether that be for medicinal purposes, supplementation or food. So the idea of becoming inoculated is something that goes directly against the way that I live my life.” Translation: “I am true to myself and myself alone and I don’t give a shit about transmitting COVID-19 to my high-school students.” A dyed-in-the-wool irresponsible narcissist.

Former Employee C objected to the vaccines based on his extraordinarily narrow world-view. “My job is a 100% remote, work-from-home type of job for a federal contractor. I never go into an office, I never interact with people. I object to the vaccine because in my opinion there have not been enough years of study into it, but I protect my family in the ways I can.” He closed the interview by adding, “It felt like this ‘do this or you will lose your job’ order was a personal attack against me and my family. Like they are coming after my livelihood.”

This is multi-faceted irresponsibility combined with sheer idiocy. Former Employee C wants to let the pandemic run for years until he’s personally satisfied that all the tests have been completed. He doesn’t give a thought to the millions who would die while we wait for a study that will ease his troubled mind. And to translate a broad employer mandate into “attack against me and my family” is the essence of narcissism.

The guy is now going to lose his health insurance. Tell me—who is the danger to his family? Did someone forget to tell Former Employee C that choices have consequences?

I’m sick and tired of this pandemic. I miss eating in restaurants, comparatively worry-free travel and going to concerts. I loathe having to wear mask and I hate it that masks bury the full expressive power of the human face. It would be nice to see smiles again on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, progress on the COVID-19 front is being thwarted by a significant minority of irresponsible people who ignore their responsibilities to others and to the larger community. If that significant minority had been present in the early 1940’s, we would have lost the war. They’re selfish, self-serving losers who are completely unwilling to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Truth: there will never be a perfect vaccine that has zero risk and no side effects. Truth: when you come down with a transmissible disease, you can transmit that disease to others. Truth: the human immune system is hardly foolproof; if you’re lucky enough to have an immune system that allows COVID-19 into your body but somehow stops the virus from manifesting symptoms, you can still spread COVID-19 to others. Truth: “natural” ingredients can cause just as much damage to the human body as “synthetic” ingredients (salt, saturated fat, or just about anything consumed in excess). Truth: any competent government will mandate certain behaviors in case of emergency or credible threat and impose consequences for failing to follow those mandates. Truth: employers have a fundamental responsibility to provide safe workplaces and sanction those who choose to ignore safety rules.

Here’s a brief open letter to the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers in the audience: “Okay, so you don’t like mandates. But let’s say you are required to mask up and/or show a vaccination card in order to dine or imbibe at your favorite restaurant or bar. How is that any different than the near-universal requirement that you refrain from smoking in indoor facilities? I don’t hear you complaining about that. The purpose of smoking bans isn’t so much to get you to stop smoking as it is to protect the other patrons from your second-hand smoke. And in case you missed it, you morons, COVID-19 travels through the air . . . just like second-hand smoke.”

That inconsistency is not the only non-sequitur embraced by the so-called freedom-loving people. I’ve noticed that they’re now claiming the right to bodily autonomy. I can’t even imagine the ethical gymnastics required to square that with an anti-abortion stance.

Truth: we will never see this pandemic in the rear view mirror as long as irresponsible people are allowed to act irresponsibly. Their claims of standing up for freedom are completely bogus, because if you choose to belong to any society, you do so with the understanding that you will be giving up some of your freedoms in the interests of the greater good.

Man, I wish these people would grow up. We wouldn’t need any mandates if people would just grow up.

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