It's Time to be Mean
Go ahead and yell at the vaccine resisters
Yesterday, I saw a Facebook post* from a teacher at my former high school urging people to get vaccinated. She shared an article from The Atlantic, along with information about the science behind the vaccines, how long it had been developing, and why most of the fears unvaccinated people have about it are unfounded. (Vaccination rates sped up in the past month as the delta variant arrived, but only about 40 percent of Arkansans have gotten the shot even now.)
In response, another woman who went to my high school responded with a very chipper, authoritative comment about why she wasn’t getting the vaccine. There was something about the way she so confidently and smugly repeated nonsense that really set me off. It didn’t help that we have a cold in my house and were worried about a breakthrough infection. (I think it’s just a bad cold.)
I’ll give you a little look into why I choose not to get it ! If I get the vaccine it does not prevent you from getting it from me ... a vaccine doesn’t somehow make it not contagious anymore , it can still spread. This virus is a 99% survival rate whether you are vaccinated or not ! Now I’m not down playing this , I know 1000 have lost their lives and it’s tragic and I wish this awful mess would go away ! This is not a us against them , point the finger political agenda. The facts are whether your vaccinated or not you can spread the virus, we are not to blame ! There’s only one blame and it’s the damn virus !
She went on to repeat these falsehoods, especially that the vaccines basically made no difference. A bunch of people jumped in to politely argue with her. (These are all people I know.) I actually think that’s a huge problem in some small towns: the pressure to maintain politeness, to avoid conflict. But conflict and argument are totally good and necessary if they lead to positive change. Avoiding conflict gets you nowhere. It’s why these towns never change. Our county judge, the county executive, repeatedly says that the most important thing in this pandemic is that we stay nice and all get along: it’s not worth losing a friend over an argument about something like masks. What about the friends who have died because we abandoned mitigation strategies as a community? It’s so short-sighted it makes me ache.
But the big problem is one I’ve pointed to in earlier posts. This isn’t a time for individual decision-making invoking personal choice. This is a time for collective responsibility. It is the very basic contract of society, to give up a small portion of your own freedom to accommodate the public good. It happens that the vaccine protects each of us as well as those around us, but the primary reason we should be encouraging and, indeed, mandating that people get it is so that we can better protect everyone and finally conquer, to the extent we still can, an infectious disease. There’s actually no reason to be nice to someone who very happily tells you why she’s not taking the simplest possible measures to keep her neighbors alive. Neanderthals had a better understanding of community than this.
I’ve been thinking about this because I still think many of my friends from elsewhere, particularly my friends on the left, still believe there is some magically nice and reasonable way we can talk to Trump supporters—because that’s really the overlap here—that will make it all make sense and break down the last of their defenses and help them see that, really, they were on our side all along. They’re not. Their most fundamental conception of what it means to be an American is that they can do whatever they want. I don’t think you can build community out of that sentiment. All you can do is push it out, and do everything you can to keep it from being the ethos on which this country governs.
*You are here going to think, “Get off Facebook!” But I will tell you why I think that’s wrong-headed. The vast majority of Americans are still on Facebook, and it’s a window into how they think. More important, it’s a key organizing site and source of local information for my community. The Facebook infrastructure is much easier and cheaper for the town and county to use than building and continually updating their own website is. Some local leaders ignore it, and they really miss out on and misread local sentiment. You don’t have to, as an individual, stay on that cursed site, but it is an important site to monitor.
What I’m Recommending:
The people I know who live in the New Orleans area recommend giving to Imagine Water Works, if you’re able, for hurricane relief. I’ve been shopping for a climate-change refuge. Raw red onions are the best food. I have a love/hate relationship with The New York Times cooking section but every now and then there is a ridiculously easy recipe that tastes way better than it has any right to, and these very intense black beans are among them.
Cute Animal Pic of the Week:
We just celebrated International Dog Day. Remember that if you need a dog, I can help you find one.