I’m reluctantly crawling back into my cozy cave of isolation since many fellow earth dwellers are either unwilling or unable to roll up their sleeves and get the Covid vaccine.
I understand why people in parts of the world are not vaccinated: they don’t have access to this life saving drug. But those who can get the tiny prick in their arms and choose not to leave me mystified.
Actually, my emotions run more toward anger than bewilderment. I hear the argument we should be free to make our own decisions about what goes into our bodies. I get that. However, as a friend said recently, freedom doesn’t mean getting everything you want. Freedom comes with obligations, and those obligations are living in a society where there are rules that keep us all safe.
For instance, we are obligated to stop at stop signs and red lights for the good of all ,including yourself. There are rules about parking, seatbelts, helmet usage, children’s inoculation before coming to schools, because living in a free society requires us to not endanger other citizens in order to get our way.
So where do my rights start and yours end, or vice versa? How do we shield ourselves and others while exercising our individual freedoms? And when do individual rights outweigh the rights of others?
These are tricky questions with varying and heated answers. Apparently appealing to the ‘goodness’ of people or their ‘caring for their neighbors’ approaches aren’t convincing those dedicated anti-vaccine believers to expose themselves to a needle stab.
And that is what I don’t comprehend. People are dying, and yet, some of us don’t seem to care, or at least don’t care enough to get a shot with the hope it will help everyone stay well and alive.
I’m attempting to take the politics out of the equation, while knowing that may be an impossibility. But if we clear away the red versus blue, or the right vs left, I have to ask, do I have an obligation to help protect others? And do I have a right to expect others to help protect me?
I heard a mother say at a school board meeting, “My child hasn’t seen her teacher’s smile because it is hidden behind a mask,” as though a teacher’s smile was a requirement for her child’s education.
Honestly, I never knew a facial expression was part of the criteria spelled out in a hiring manual. I can’t imagine any company or organization demanding an applicant to smile in order to be employed. If so, my junior high school math instructor Mr. Dumas would never have entered a classroom. And my senior year English teacher would not have brightened any hallways with her serious, uncompromising stare as she explained the flaws in my poorly written essays.
To wear a mask or not? To get vaccinated or not? To save a life or not? Do we care for others or not? What’s the cost and consequences, emotionally, economically, physically, spiritually, of our decisions?
Only you can answer those questions, if you bother to ask.
An ‘I’ or ‘me only’ society does not long exist as a free civilization. We must focus on what is good for the greater ‘we’, honoring those who want to exist as free individuals while accepting obligations that come with freedom.