We hear a lot about freedom and personal liberty today in regards to the pandemic. Many declare their right not to be vaccinated as an absolute right without limitations. They decry any governmental authority to protect public health and safety as government overreach and “tyranny,” as so described by our local CATs and RATs (Citizens/Republicans Against “Tyranny”). Yet, rights are limited when they disregard the rights of others or cause bodily harm and injury to others. Personal responsibilities are intrinsically linked to our personal rights, if not legally, then at least morally.
When the fear of polio was rampant in this nation in the 1950s, playgrounds and community pools were closed, parents kept their kids from playing with others, and many aspects of American life were altered or suspended. The Salk-Sabin vaccine was hailed as a God-send to many who feared for their children and themselves. President Eisenhower, a Republican, mandated the vaccine for the American public and there was little, if any, resistance to his order. Why? First, people were SO THANKFUL for this miracle drug as a means to prevent the deadly disease of polio. Also at the time, there was not the mistrust of government as there is today. The 1960s age of rebellion had yet to occur, nor the effects of Watergate. In addition, there was not the widespread availability of misinformation as there is today. Social media, a multitude of information choices, the internet, and the widespread availability of opinion media did not exist back then.
No one is happy about the pandemic. It has disrupted our lives and significantly affected our economy and way of living. But it is a public health phenomenon, not a “Dempanic” or politically motivated act, as some would claim. Unfortunately, we have so many conspiracy theories, demagoguery, and outright LIES being disseminated as “news” across many media platforms, including locally. Worse, people have been trained by cult leaders to dismiss the “mainstream media” as so-called “fake news” in order to invalidate any real news sources from reaching their viewership. Let’s be clear, they hate the mainstream media because it applies strict journalistic standards, which the opinion media does not have to meet, and because it represents the mainstream of American thought, which the extreme opinion media fears. They rail against CNN and CBS News precisely because it can See B.S. “News” and call it out. So they have been trained to only listen to those views and opinions that line up with their cult and tribe, and have the blessing of their cult leader. This is one reason why there is so much opposition and utterly false misinformation about the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine and public health policies intended to protect the public.
Your choice and personal liberty comes with consequences as well. If you choose not to protect yourself with the vaccine, that is your choice, although it increasingly puts others at risk and the likelihood of the virus mutating into more deadly variants. Health care workers and indeed all who serve in a public capacity should adopt the credo of “Do No Harm.” This is especially true when being in proximity to vulnerable people, seniors and children. Our children under 12 do not have the option of protecting themselves with the vaccine. Many long-term care patients are also especially vulnerable. Should an unvaccinated health care worker be able to infect long-term care residents and cause some to be hospitalized without any personal accountability? I think not. Employers have the right to protect their employees, and health care providers have an obligation to protect their patients, period. If you demand your personal liberties, please be willing to accept the consequences of potentially being suspended or dismissed without complaint, unless you comply with reasonable requirements seeking to protect health and human life. While it is your choice to refuse the vaccine, you do not have the right to dictate that your choice results in others being placed at risk of serious disease or even death.
What about those who work with children in classrooms, day care, nurseries, Sunday School, Sabbath School, or Hebrew School? Spiritual leaders, are you putting your children in vulnerable situations with unvaccinated workers? To those who cry liberty and personal freedom, are you so callous to put others in danger, including little children? These are questions that should be explored because we know that the delta variant can and does infect ALL persons, including small children, some of whom have already died from the virus! Please think about your responsibility to protect others and may the liberty you so zealously demand, do no harm!