Here we are, two years of COVID and conspiracy theories. Although the vaccine is not 100% effective (only death is), it keeps us out of the hospital and is our best hope for returning to normalcy. The virus knocked us down, but selfishness is keeping us down. But it wouldn’t be the virus that holds us back, but selfishness. If only there was a vaccine for self-centeredness or a supplement to boost ones’ empathy.
This didn’t need to happen.
John Pavlov wrote in his blog, “Here in America, we have enough vaccines for every adult here; the embarrassment of riches most nations on this planet are literally begging for—and nearly half of our people are simply refusing them.”
What will it take for people to wake up? More than half-million people have died. Our country’s top experts are pleading with people to get vaccinated. But no, avoiding personal inconvenience for some people is more important than other people’s lives.
No vaccines? Then let’s cancel helmets for football players and guidelines for restaurants to follow for storing and preparing meals. Let’s only make blue cars follow the road rules; red cars don’t have to? It’s what happening right now, except the blue cars are vaccinated, and the red cars are plastered with stickers, “My car. My rules.” “I call my shots.”
People who listen to conspiracy theories don’t factor in that the politicians who questioned the vaccine were the first in line for the vaccine shot. Yes, the same politicians that have opposed masks and mandates. They don’t want to talk about that.
What does your unwillingness to be vaccinated say about you?
You could care less that your behavior is making more people sick and prolonging the pandemic.
You could care less that the ICUs are overflowing, medical workers are exhausted, and cancer patients’ treatments are postponed.
You could care less that the number of children hospitalized (and some dying) are increasing.
You could care less that graduations are canceled, and the college experience turned upside down.
Selfishness in America is another form of a virus. Its symptoms are “ME, not WE.” Their actions say: “I don’t give a damn about others.” We have a vaccine for Covid-19, but not for selfishness or political tribalism.
During World War II, Europeans risked their families’ lives hiding Jews in attics and cellars for years. In the United States, millions of Americans refuse free vaccination and to wear masks to protect their countrymen. Where is their concern to keep our children safe, kids who want to go to school and have friends?
The pandemic could have brought us together. Just as 9/11 did, setting aside our differences to look out for one another. It’s how we like to think of ourselves. A treat others as you want to be treated moment. Love your neighbor. Instead, America’s generosity withered, and the pandemic grew into a nightmare we couldn’t shake off. Together we can do anything, Biden told us. But we couldn’t because to some, the “ME” was more important than the “WE.”
Standing in line waiting my turn for the vaccine in March of 2021, ease and optimism for the days ahead flowed over me. Soon I would be able to be with my children and grandchildren. But things would turn out differently.
The summer (2021) I’d planned with my family turned out as I’d expected, laughter and activities. We wore masks indoors, but mostly not outdoors. Everyone over 12 was vaccinated. But the day after our last outdoor event, Gréta, my youngest, texted that her 10-year-old had a fever. Then young Edith, 11-years-old, from another family branch, got sick. Tim, my husband, a healthy vaccinated man with no underlying conditions felt out-of-sorts, and then the symptoms we all dread came. All 15 family members were tested. According to the health department, the 10, 11, and 69 year-olds tested positive, most likely with the Delta virus.
It’s easy to be philosophical and high-minded reading about other people’s challenges. I could even muster up empathy for the unvaccinated concerns. But when you lay in bed listening to your husband quarantined in another room coughing the night away, anger moves in. This didn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t have happened.
This wasn’t some wily invisible bacteria flowing in the air, but virus passed person to person by people we share this nation with. Every time I ride my bike, I count on people looking out for me as I look out for them. There is no “ME” when it’s about our health and future. We are as strong as the weakest link, and in this pandemic, we discovered that our United Chain of America included millions of weak links. My family did everything we were supposed to, but we were made to pay for the recklessness and selfishness of others.
Future generations will be studying what happened in 2020; it won’t be about an alien invasion. Instead, Pavlov phrased it, “of the cruelty and selfishness of those we know and love and live with, who gave it every opportunity to ravage us, who were willing accomplices to the death and the suffering, who said no to compassion when it called.”
We had the means and expertise to fight off COVID-19. Half of the country took the risk of getting a vaccine that the FDA had not fully approved. It was our best option, and we listened to the medical experts, not opinions. When in line for my vaccine, I had no idea that the deep-seated unwillingness of people to look out for the common welfare of their countrymen would be the sickness we couldn’t overcome.