We have a free medicine at our disposal that limits the deadly effects of a virus for those who contract it while also reducing our ability to spread it.
We have mountains of data proving the medicine is safe and effective.
We also know how vaccinations work – that to protect the population at large, we need to meet a threshold of more than 80 percent.
In the past, we simply relied on people’s altruism to do the right thing.
In the past, we trusted that the scientific and medical community cared about the health and wellbeing of their fellow human beings.
In the past, when faced with a medical crisis like this pandemic, we rolled up our sleeves willingly – because we had a strong sense of community and cared about more than just ourselves or our “individual rights.”
I’m a bit tired of those who complain that any mandate infringes on their freedom. These people have politicized a public health emergency, which has made a bad situation worse.
The millions of people who ignore the global medical community (and most likely their own doctors) are primarily responsible for extending the pain, suffering, and economic uncertainty. And their decision is hindering our nation’s ability to get on the other side of the pandemic.
I don’t support forced vaccinations, but I’m okay with individual businesses requiring proof of vaccinations.
Businesses have a right to make decisions in the best interest of their customers and their employees. It’s akin to a business not allowing visitors to smoke in their place of business. They’re not telling people they can’t smoke at all. They’re simply saying that because the visitor’s decision to smoke poses a danger to others, they’re not going to allow it in their place of business.
Like smoking in public, the decision to not get vaccinated endangers others. And, unfortunately, it also increases the likelihood of new variants getting a foothold and spreading and prolonging the battle against the virus. In addition, as we’ve seen all over the country, the unvaccinated are putting undue stress on our healthcare system. Hospitals are running out of ICU beds because they are filled with unvaccinated COVID patients.
Proof of vaccination to enter crowded venues or stores or fly on an airline is not optimal. Still, when altruism doesn’t work, society must try to convince people to do the right thing.
In a society, we all sacrifice some individual freedoms for the greater good – if people decide they are not going to do that, they should bear some cost or suffer a consequence for their decision.
Vaccine hesitancy increases the likelihood of COVID virus mutations, which puts everyone (including the fully vaccinated) at risk.
By refusing the vaccine, Americans are ensuring this virus will remain with us for a long time. Unfortunately, this is our future.
I remember when America used to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of the scientific community and how we banded together when faced with a crisis.
Now, look at us.
All it takes is a gaggle of fully-vaccinated Fox News hosts and a handful of YouTube charlatans spewing lies and misinformation. As a result, millions of Americans disregard science and the advice of professionals with decades of experience studying infectious diseases.
What the fuck happened to America?
One thing that’s happened is we’ve politicized science. From climate to vaccines, we have well-organized entities who frame discussions about science through a political lens, and they do so purposefully. The goal is to get people to make decisions about science using emotion rather than data.
So, instead of talking about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, we have news organizations and YouTubers framing the discussion on vaccines around government overreach and individual freedoms – important subjects for sure, yet irrelevant to whether or not getting vaccinated gets us to the other side of the pandemic. And so, science gets kicked to the curb, and altruism and good citizenship get thrown out the window.
And this has been going on for so long, news organizations and YouTube hucksters and influencers have a built-in audience of anti-vaxxers and climate crisis deniers. Both are now cottage industries in America.
And if you think for one second that politicians and propagandist news organizations like FOX don’t understand this, you’re kidding yourself.
The battle against COVID-19 required competent and steady leadership. To stop the spread of the disease, we needed our President to be honest, smart, and humble.
Honest, because we needed to trust him. We needed to know that what he was telling us about the disease was factual and true, so that we could make well-informed decisions to keep ourselves and our family safe.
Smart, because infections disease epidemiology is complicated and heady stuff. We needed a president who could read briefings and synthesize and extrapolate the relevant data. We needed a President who could sit down with scientists and listen to what they were telling him and effectively make sense of it, so that he could communicate what he learned to the public clearly and concisely. Being able to do this would result in public confidence.
Humble, because COVID-19 was an unknown and ruthless disease. What we learned early-on was subject to change as new data became available. We needed a president who was humble enough to admit the challenge would be extremely difficult and would require Americans to work together in a coordinated and unified manner.
We needed honesty, intelligence, and humility from our President, and he was glaringly 0 for 3.
COVID-19 has killed more than a quarter million Americans. Tens of thousands of those deaths can be blamed on the incompetency of our President. It has wrecked our economy, devastated small businesses, and crippled families. It also shined a light on an immoral and criminally incompetent leader, and in all likelihood, ended the Trump presidency. In a weird twist-of-fate, if not for the virus and incompetent leadership that ensued, we might have lost our democracy.
What a devastating price to pay for electing a conman and reality TV celebrity to the Presidency. I hope we learned a lesson as a nation – that cheap populism makes for a dangerously shaky and ineffectual national platform, and that honesty, intelligence, and humility matter in a President.
The man who lied to the American people about the dangers of a deadly virus, putting millions at risk, and undoubtedly contributing to the death of thousands of Americans, has contracted that very same virus – forcing many of us to balance decorum and our capacity for empathy, against a genuine contempt for the President.
We humans have an innate capacity for empathy, which can be developed further though our shared experience with others, and the moral guidance of loving and nurturing parents — neither of which Donald Trump had.
Donald Trump grew up in an insular environment, where he was taught and praised for cutthroat behavior – he was raised in an environment that put a stranglehold on cultivating that innate capacity for empathy. Under such conditions, the result is usually disastrous and tragic on a “localized” level. Meaning, those who find themselves directly involved in business with Donald Trump, or those who are part of his inner circle because of familial ties, end up being hurt or damaged by his abject apathy and malignant narcissism.
Unfortunately for America (and the world), when Trump became president, the collateral damage borne from his apathy grew exponentially, metastasizing from a localized problem to a global catastrophe. Because of this, our democracy and the health of our planet are threatened.
We’ve witnessed Trump’s apathy in both behavior and policy — from his denial of climate change science, to his willingness to snatch and cage children, to callous paper towel tossing to hurricane victims, to labeling killed or wounded soldiers as “suckers and losers”, to his weak and feckless response to racial injustice.
When the traitorous and narcissistic fool who is dismantling democracy and destroying America from within, contracts a deadly virus, how do we draw upon the “better angels of our nature” and wish him well? (especially when we know in our hearts, that the President wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if the shoe were on the other foot).
Feeling empathy towards the deeply apathetic, is perhaps the truest empathy test of all. We owe it ourselves and our country to give it a try.