These two words conjure so much emotion, you would think we were talking about abortion or physician assisted suicide. But, alas, it’s just the vaccination argument. Children are at risk, we are told, but these are the wanted children, not the inconvenient unborn. The elderly are at risk, we are also told, but these are the wanted elderly, not those that are forgotten and lonely.
I just want to point out, before I go any further with this blog that herd immunity is destroyed once we allow a single unvaccinated or infected traveler into the US. We didn’t close down flights to and from West Africa during the few months of terror from ebola, and we continue to have mass immigration through our southern border, so I think it’s safe to assume that other infectious diseases, such as measles, can easily be carried in from other countries as well.
But, believe it or not, this is not a pro-or anti-vax blog. And to be clear, we vaccinate our kids, because we choose to vaccinate our kids and believe it should remain a choice. And so, we choose to vaccinate, against communicable diseases.
But not because of herd immunity.
In fact, I’d never even heard the term herd immunity until the recent Disney Land Measles outbreak. Never. Not once. And I’m a mom to 12 kids who have all had vaccinations. Not once did our pediatrician or our family practice doctor express concern for other people’s children whilst discussing the benefits of vaccinations. Surprising, because we are told that’s pretty much the reason to get immunizations these days. In fact, Coby, our youngest, just received his final DPT shot and as I was discussing the benefits, herd immunity never came up.
I mean, really, that’s a nice perk, I get my kids vaccinated, presumably saving their lives and in the process assist in saving the lives of countless others. It’s like going to Zumiez because you need shoes and they are offering a BOGO … you were going to buy shoes anyway and hey, look, you get another pair free. Cool.
But what about the parents whose concerns ring true in their own minds? Their niece or nephew or even one of their very own children had an adverse reaction to a shot. Or maybe their pastor’s son has autism and they have been told, with passion, it was due to the MMR vaccination. We expect them to sacrifice their own child, even though he risks are ridiculously low and they stand more of a chance of being injured or killed crossing the street on any given day? But, none-the-less, we expect them to sacrifice their own flesh and blood for the sake of some immune-compromised kids?
I mean, what have those kids and their parents ever done for any of us? And, would they, given the same circumstances, stick their kids with what they believe to be toxins for the sake of others? I’ll bet the farm that they would not.
That sounds very pessimistic of me, but seriously, our society is not sacrificial in nature. We’ve don’t have anything in common anymore with our neighbors, we’ve been programmed to concentrate solely on our differences and celebrate diversity that we don’t see ourselves in our neighbors and we sure as heck don’t care about people we don’t know.
This might be a shocking revelation, but how connected do you feel to the people fleeing Syria? Have you ever stopped for a second and thought about how terrified they must be? Ever put yourself in their shoes for one minute? Thought about what you would do? I’ve tried, but my mind can’t go there. It’s too horrific! Looking at my children and fearing for their lives daily? Yeah, that can’t be easy.
Do you have a daughter? What about the young girls who are betrothed to men three times their age? How about the prisoners being beheaded? Burned to death with a torch? Are you compelled to fight, to give up your lives, to martyr yourself for them in any way? Or at least pray for their safety every night? Benghazi? Remember that? How about abortion?
Or are you so removed from these terrors that you are simply able to turn off your TV and never think about them? Go about your daily lives and stress about your 6 year olds birthday party, your computer virus, cleaning your home, your upcoming dinner party. While you stress about breaking your phone screen or the new scratch on your car, people, like you, like me, are having their heads cut off, they are watching their children get crucified or buried alive, they are starving, they are terrified.
In fact, the mother of the Jordanian pilot who was burned to death, she is reported to have collapsed and died from grief. Died from grief at the horrible and tortuous way her son died. I mean seriously, can you imagine?
You can’t. Perhaps you won’t, but you simply cannot imagine the suffering that goes on. Our society asks you to forget it. We become enraged when video and photos emerge from 9/11. “Too explicit for our children.” We put warnings up on the screen, “Viewer Discretion Advised …”. Remember Daniel Pearl? I bet you don’t. Dan will never forget, and as such, neither will I. Those images haunt our dreams. Fox News came under attack because they showed footage of the Jordanian Pilot, who by the way has a name … it is Lieutenant Moath al-Kasasbeh … being burned to death. People were offended that they were subjected to his horrible death.
Really, are we too good to simply view an image? This is REAL! It happened to a real person. To someones son! Look at your child, can you freakin imagine? They live this reality, yet America is too fragile, too innocent, too good, too advanced to watch it?
So, I say to you, if we are too preoccupied with our trivial “First World Problems” to be bothered by such barbaric evil happening across the globe, how on earth can we be expected to give a rats butt about herd immunity? “Not my problem, please don’t show gross photos of kids with measles, it’s upsetting.” or “Photos of aborted babies are traumatic, I don’t want to see them.” and “I don’t want to relive 9/11, the video is too violent.”
We are pathetic. We are a pathetic society when we care more about our feelings and our status quo than we do about life. Real people with real feeling are living these atrocities daily.
Somehow we brush it off with a flippant comment about how animalistic all this terror is. When in fact, this type of evil is only attributed to humans. Animals aren’t capable of evil, that’s a purely human trait. Yet, we run from it, stick our heads in the sand and deny it.
But, herd immunity is supposed to motivate us?
When, in recent years, has anyone done anything out of concern for their neighbor? Sure, we hear about the extreme cases, where people donate a car to a guy who walks 40 miles to work. We hear about the amazing father who chose his child over his wife when she left him for keeping the Downs Syndrome baby. We get all warm and fuzzy inside when we read stories about people feeding the homeless, rescuing abused animals and moving to be in-home “parents” to at risk teens.
But these are the exceptions, folks, it’s why they make the news. Ordinary doesn’t sell headlines, extraordinary does. Well, that and violence and scandal.
But there’s something else at work here that has had such a devastating effect on our society, that something like herd immunity is not a motivator and has no meaning to the people of our society. And that’s diversity.
Now I’m not saying that diversity is bad, not even close. Diversity is beautiful and we should all be accepting and celebratory about that which sets us each apart. But, we’ve been so concentrated on our diversity that no-one even thinks about what we have in common, that which unites us as one … like the health of our young.
What happened to E Pluribus Unum? We spend the majority of our days pointing out the differences amongst us all that we completely have lost sight of all the glorious things that unite us, that make us one people. We’ve had acceptance beaten into our brains, so much so that I think it’s hardened our hearts and closed our minds. We see each other as being so fully different and that is all.
Unfortunately, differences, while beautiful, don’t unite. Our differences are not what is going to make someone go out of their way to serve you in your time of need. Our differences are not what is going to motivate us to love each other. And, as such, our differences are not what is going to convince others to vaccinate their children to “protect” ours.
We talk a lot about how bad the world is, what our President should do, what our Congress and Supreme Court should be doing, even what our teachers and priests should be doing, but what do we do? Sure, we might donate to a GoFundMe account for a struggling family, we might even volunteer a few times per year in some project, but we often ignore the struggles, the sadness and the pain of our neighbors.
We justify not helping the homeless on the street, “If he can stand there with a sign, he can get a job.” or “He’s just going to spend the money I give him on drugs or alcohol.”
We pay tribute to a persons suffering with words, “I love you”, “Have faith, it will get better”, but we fail to act, to sacrifice our time or money or even to truly drop to our knees in prayer.
We allow our egos to overtake our compassion and we call the “authorities” on our neighbors instead of talking to them face to face when we have concerns.
And yet, we are expected to care about the children of other’s in some abstract way like herd immunity? That’s asking entirely too much from a society who has had it beaten into them that we are all different, that we have nothing in common, that we must be accepted in good and bad, and that no-one has the right to judge our choices or our beliefs.
It is true, we all come from different walks of life, we have different values and different religious beliefs, but we are all one, we are all children of God, which makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s start acting like it. Let’s demand safety for all children, here in the US in Syria, Haiti and the moon, for Pete’s sake. We are powerful, we can make a difference, but we all have to join together and accept nothing less than the obliteration of evil.
The next time there is an explicit video, a violent photo or an emotional news piece, promise your children you will make the world a better place. Drop to your knees, ask for good vibes, whatever you do in times of turmoil, we can’t continue to turn our heads in the other direction while people are suffering and being tortured. If the worst thing in your day isn’t that your son was burned alive, or your daughter wasn’t sold into the sex trade or you weren’t just aborted … well then, I’d say you’re having a pretty damn good day compared to the rest of the world!