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I spotted a joke on social media recently in which the question was “How do you tell a fully vaccinated person from a non-vaccinated person?”
The reply, like it or not, was “Ask them who won the election.”
Alright, it’s funny on certain levels, regardless of your politics, because it makes a jab at a stereotype American who may or may not exist; it’s up to you how you interpret it and whether you think it bears a smidgeon of truth.
The issue behind it all, however, is not a funny one. We have reached a point at which public health or lack thereof has become politicized. There are always going to be those at each extreme of a spectrum in any matter, be it politics, religion, education, finance, sports, even names for dogs, but I find it quite frightening that the very health of a significant proportion of the population depends on where the people obtain their news and which public figures they believe.
There may not be a precedent for this. I cannot find an example in history in which fully half of a nation’s people chose one path over another related to their personal and family health, even their very survival or potential horrid and isolated death. Certainly, there are plenty of times in history when the division between wellness and suffering has been an economic or social one – Ebola and the Black Death come to mind right away; but it is a first in mankind’s evolution for an individual nation to experience a division of this kind based on politics.
You hardly find this kind of aggressive division and its related vitriol in, say, France, Germany or Japan.
Oddly, you find it in a country in which the democratic system is not the only aspect of life that is supposed to be equal to all. In a nation whose people are born equal and who have equal rights in society (yes, they do), the education of their children is likewise designed for equal distribution. The child from the poorest and meanest streets has just as much right to the finest textbooks and the ability to apply to any university as the privileged and cosseted child from the gated community. Whether the concept actually works is a matter for another discussion, but we must agree that one high school diploma should be regarded with just as much respect as another.
Alas, the system that has been in place for at least three generations has produced a population of people whose home education has gradually diverged, one political belief from another, to the point at which we stand today.
I was going to try being impartial about the vaccine itself. I was going to say that every one of us has the right to decide whether to take the shot.
Until I thought about what would happen if only half of us had the vaccine and the other half didn’t.
Apocalyptic science fiction plots are based on this.
Today, an estimated forty percent of Americans have been vaccinated. The shots have been available for about six months. They’re still available this very minute, free of charge, at any number of places.
If you take the shot, you probably won’t die.
If you don’t, you might.
If you deny your children the shot, they might die.
I leave it to you whether you are willing to live with yourself for however long you’ll last, knowing that it was because of your blinkered beliefs, your political bent or your own plain ignorance that you’ve had to bury your child.