Like most, if not all, I had hoped to have Covid a bit more back of mind at this point, but sadly, that’s not the case. And of course what’s most frustrating is that while we have a way out, about half the US population has pursued the path that science has overwhelmingly deemed a danger to them and to us all by choosing not to be fully vaccinated. The partisan divide about vaccine acceptance and resistance seems fueled by a sense of tribal identity that now divides us about our beliefs and responses to just about everything.
It all gets a lot more personal as we close in on a family wedding, the first of our children to take this momentous leap of faith and love. We know how important sharing joy is as we increasingly understand that time will continue to have us share sorrow and loss; Nevertheless we knew that love like all things in the time of Covid would face obstacles that went far beyond our control. At first given NY State mandates we essentially needed to limit our invitees to a group of mostly immediate family. Going through lists to identity who we could invite and who we would need to exclude was difficult and painful. Then came the good news that given the vaccine and the declining rates of infection we would be able to make it a full on family celebration.
But now that the shadow of Covid has darkened, we can’t know for certain where things will stand in mid-September. Our daughter and her fiancé decided that to insure the safety of all, all guests will need to be vaccinated to attend. This was a difficult and painful decision as they fully understand that some family members and perhaps other guests will choose not to attend on this basis. We, of course, fully stand by and support the decision and share their sadness as consequently there are beloved family members that now will not be with us on this truly special day. But why? How did people who I know and love get to this place and become as entrenched in their positions? Did their physicians advise them not to be vaccinated? In a note today from United Airlines their CEO, in announcing that all United employees will be required to be vaccinated stated, “We've all learned a lot about this disease, including that vaccines are — by far — the most effective way to protect people from the virus and its variants. An unvaccinated person is about 50 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than a vaccinated person, and nearly 300 times more likely to die if infected.”
From where I sit, much of this is ignited and fed by media whose profit motive is derived from reinforcing our prejudices and beliefs rather than to question and inform them. Outrage sells and the tribal responses of clicks, views, and interactions keep the money coming. Rupert Murdoch was vaccinated as have most of the Fox News employees, per a company advisory, yet their prime time hosts continue to spread disinformation that at minimum casts doubt, all to reinforce the tribal responses that keep their ratings up and the cash coming. The amount and scope of misinformation disseminated and consumed, especially now and about this issue is both staggering and appalling. An otherwise intelligent person of my acquaintance is convinced, on the basis of information he has consumed on “Conservative” websites that he trusts, that everyone who has been vaccinated will be dead within 3 years, and that it is the result of a global conspiracy to depopulate the planet!
When 20 years ago this September 11, 2,977 were killed in a terrorist attack our response was to not only spend trillions on a military response but also willingly suspend or forego a host of individual liberties all in the name of securing our safety and maintaining our way of life. Yet here with over 600,000 dead and counting, with a semi-miraculous cure available to us with overwhelming scientific evidence of its effectiveness… the sacrifice of personal freedom involved in getting the vaccine or even wearing a mask is too great? As I read the other day, the belief that personal freedom is never to be compromised no matter the consequence to others is not the definition of liberty but rather adolescence. I hope we find a way to grow out of it and soon.
Beautifully stated, Peter, and so true. I, too, am grappling with the effects of this situation while helping to plan my daughter Hallie's wedding this coming January. As much as we would like all of our friends and family members to attend this joyous celebration, we will require that all in attendance be vaccinated. Period. It is truly a sad state that this pandemic has been treated not as a public health issue, uniting us in a fight against a deadly disease, but as a political football used to inflame and divide us as a nation, as a people, all in the interest of generating big bucks for political interest groups and increasing the ratings and revenue of those in the less than scrupulous media whom we have come to know and despise. God help us all.
so sad,what should have united this country,! oh what a tangled web we weave,