The overriding issue with vaccines is whether or not one group of people should be able to make their decisions about vaccines the only legal choice. The basis for claiming “there needs to be a law about this” is that someone should decide “what is best for the good of the community.” Some groups want to force everyone to have vaccines. Others want to outlaw drug companies. I contend that neither is the right answer. I concede that my position is based on my own priorities and Christian perspective on life, and I can present my case without calling anyone names or telling everyone who disagrees with me that they are stupid and misinformed. I recognize that people can be presented with the same information and come to different conclusions, although some do it less honestly and less carefully than others in both camps of this issue, because such is human nature. Others, even smart people, make unintentional assumptions or believe some sources of information, but not other sources.
Since the “good of the community” (or society, or general population, or public health, or whatever you want to call it), is a primary rallying cry, let’s briefly discuss the idea of a “community.” Such a concept is all fine in politics and social events, but when it comes to making decisions that “affect” the community, it is misleading. There is no entity that “is” the community. There are only individuals, in larger and smaller groups, who choose to associate and cooperative at one level or another. No decision affects “the community.” It only affects individual lives. The degree to which it affects individuals can, in turn, affect more or fewer individuals that the first individuals associate with, by choice or force. In essence, a “community” is rather a system of paths that lead to and connect individuals, paths that the individuals can choose to take.
It seems that people who are very concerned with making rules for the “whole” community (which I am obviously suggesting only exists in their imaginations) often have a higher sense of fatalism or are searching for a security in life that is not available. They think that whatever happens in the flow of interaction called a community so strongly impacts them that they will be carried along against their will. Oddly, this is often what they want done to other people in the name of their own ideas of security. All the other perspectives be damned! They know what we all need, and it should be made into a law! While it is true that we are going to be affected by the decisions of others, it is also true that life is an arena of problem solving and opportunity. We are not more constrained by other’s choices than we choose to be, legal or illegal. We will be affected by forces beyond human control no matter what laws are made. Trying to control every little detail of everyone’s lives just makes it harder to cope with what actually happens.
This still leaves individuals with the supposed dilemma of what to do when someone else apparently threatens their own security, which in the case of vaccines is their health. What if someone thinks that another person is very likely a source of illness? A freedom minded person will say that is the time to use both the freedom to NOT associate and the WISDOM of taking measures to strengthen your own body. To one person this might mean avoiding persons who have recently been vaccinated, as the active or inactive nature of viruses is not completely understood. To another person, this may lead to seclusion from potentially infected people. To another, it may simply mean being sure to wash regularly and get lots of fresh air. Not everyone is equally susceptible and not everyone is equally concerned.
Some people try to claim that various measures should be mandated because “science has proven” this or that. There are so many things wrong with that. For starters, for a freedom minded person, it just doesn’t matter what someone else thinks has been proven. Each person gets to decide what purportedly medical treatments he or his children get. There is no compelling reason to turn over these decisions to a group of people who are looking out for their own best interests or a consolidation of their political power.
Next up is the fact that science can’t prove anything. People, specialized or not, can gather data and try to come to conclusions, but there are so many factors that influence those conclusions that to say they should be considered fact is unacceptable.
- The data is always limited. Always. And usually more limited in both number and representative sample than most people realize.
- It is extremely difficult to eliminate other variables. There are probably variables that no one is aware of. Variables have a way of changing inconveniently and unexpectedly.
- Correlations are too easily interpreted as cause and effect.
- There are too many things not understood about our world. And our immune system.
- Some people lie and posture. They like to look smarter than they are. They like to be looked at as experts. They make up statistics clean out of their heads. Don’t try to tell me that most people are “good at heart” either. History and current events would suggest otherwise. How many people do you know that are treating someone else wrongly?
- Some people take bribes. Money isn’t bad in and of itself, but we need to be aware of how it affects “research” in both the private and governmental sectors. It is really hard not to be influenced by those providing the paycheck.
- Some people like power over other people. It makes some people feel “good” just to be able to tell others what to do. They are not shy about enforcing or lying or shaming to maintain that power.
- The experiences of individuals can be hard to catalog, but that doesn’t invalidate them.
There has been some attempt to metaphorically associate unvaccinated children with holding a gun to someone’s head. This is not a good comparison for a few reasons. Apart from the disagreement about whether someone’s state of vaccination can impact someone else’s health, using gun is a direct and immediate threat to life or limb. It is an obvious, hard to avoid, and intentional violence against another’s will and ability to live. It is force against another person to either harm them or get them to do what we want. If we start saying that all individual decisions are like this just because they might affect someone else, there is no personal freedom left.
Other elements of the controversy seem to center on the use of government schools, and, to a lesser degree, other open spaces. As for private open spaces, like Disneyland, it is a fact that the more people we come in contact with, the more likely we are to be exposed to factors beyond our control, germs or otherwise. Still, people and news media are quick to whip up a sensation about exactly what caused what. They publish numbers and figures in misleading ways and the masses foam at the mouth. No matter that more children have died from car accidents than the one incident or supposed “outbreak”, wasn’t it exciting!?
Government schools are their own special problem. People send their children away all day, 5 days a week, for hours every day, to be under the supervision of government employees, and then get upset when things are not supervised the way they would like. These are not private institutions that are concerned about the customer. They may put on a show of that, and some individuals who find themselves working for the system may be trying to do good, but these are really institutions that attempt to strip children of imagination and turn them into clones to suit the government. No free thinking there. Put them on drugs if they want to wiggle or get depressed from being confined all day or not fitting into the proper molds. Make them ready to accept war and other government programs. So, yeah, I may have an unpopular evaluation of this. It is ironic that the same parents who willingly give up so much influence and relationship with their children (I do realize that some think they don’t have a choice), want to make health decisions for someone else’s child.
How does any of this hinge on me being a Christian, or I should specify, a believer in and follower of the person of Jesus Christ, who lived and died and lives again to reconcile me to God? This belief informs my decision to value the individual as a free agent, who is rightly interested in his own well-being and must be allowed to make his own choices about this. It brings me peace in spite of others disagreeing, but stimulates me to act in love in making my decisions. However, the responsibility to my children will outweigh the importance of “getting along” with others.
Having a conviction that God has designed the body also is of importance when evaluating my health options. I know that He has given us intelligence to use our resources, but I am also hesitant to interfere with a system that seems to be working. Based on this, I think the advantages of letting a body deal with a disease agent through regular and orderly immune channels is a better choice than the risk of introducing foreign substances in an very invasive manner. I am not saying that if someone is a Christian they will come to this same conclusion; I am just saying how my understanding of God’s integrity of design leads me to my decision.
I have my own set of personal experiences that influence these decisions, as well. My studies in microbiology and nursing (for what it’s worth I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UCLA; I also believe wholeheartedly in personally educating oneself on subjects), have me convinced that the experts do not know nearly as much about the idea of giving vaccinations (cellular biology, immunology, etc.) as they say they do. I also saw first hand the political influence that is exerted to make practices “standard,” and to grant governmental “licenses” to medical persons, which in turn does not give much room for doctors or nurses to be thoughtful in many medical subjects.
My first child suffered a severe and immediate reaction to her first set of vaccines, having an extremely high fever and high-pitched shrill cry for 24 hours. That was enough to make me question the recommendations and look into things further. Thankfully, no mental damage was done. Her eyesight is very poor, but I have no way of knowing if that is connected. Most of our other children did not receive vaccinations. I do not live in fear they will catch something, partly because I choose not to live in fear, but mostly because I think we have made a good decision. I well understand the loss of a child from serious illness, having a daughter who died from leukemia, so I am not living unawares. There is no way that I think my decisions are putting any other children at risk or taking advantage of “herd” immunity, because I think the only real, lasting immunity is from dealing with the disease through the proper immune channels, as mentioned above. If someone is concerned their vaccines are not working right and are therefore concerned about exposure, then I would say their choice of defense is less effective than mine.
I have one grandson who “became autistic” right after getting immunized. No, I do not think immunizations cause all autism, anymore than I think drunk driving causes all car accidents. Do I think it causes some? Absolutely. I also think autism is a category illness that is ill defined and broadly used.
There are pages upon pages of argument for or against vaccines, for or against freedom to choose. I will not read them all. Individual freedom trumps everything in making decisions about personal health, from my world view. Some people may have a world view that tries to say it is “for the good of the community,” but if they think they believe that, I would ask them to honestly consider whether that it is really about having decided what is best for themselves and then wanting everyone else to have to comply with that decision. That is self-interest taken too far.