49. The Greater Good

I have been thinking a lot about duty lately.

In a few hours it will be Memorial Day here in the U.S. It is a day for commemorating those who died while serving in the armed forces. People who join the military know about duty and about serving the greater good. And they often carry that knowledge with them for the rest of their lives.

A close friend of ours – let’s call her Alice – worked as a field data collector for a social science research company. One of the Alice’s assignments involved interviewing people about their experiences with Medicare, a federal medical insurance program for the elderly and the disabled. The participants’ responses are used to consider and implement improvements to Medicare benefits.

Before being able to conduct the interviews, Alice had to persuade pre-selected subjects to take part in the multi-year project. This was challenging, even in pre-pandemic times. But Alice noticed that many of those who agreed to participate were military veterans. The vets stayed with the project to the end of their turn even if they complained about the tediousness of the questions.

In addition to vets, retired teachers and healthcare workers – who also understand about serving the greater good – were more willing than others to participate in the interviews about Medicare.

My wife and I performed a public service lately by becoming fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, I’m happy to say. Yes, at first we hesitated about the new vaccines because they were developed so rapidly and had not undergone the usual years of testing.

But we weighed those concerns against the very real and tragic facts – the death of millions, including some of my friends, around the world (a quarter of a million in the U.S alone); the clogged hospitals; the exhausted doctors and nurses; the long, painful suffering of those who contracted COVID-19 (such as the late actor Nick Cordero, an early victim of the virus who kept losing piece after piece of himself); the lingering effects of the disease; the emergence of more contagious and deadly strains of the virus – and decided in favor of immunizing ourselves against a known contagion. Seeing family and friends who were vaccinated without ill effect was also an encouraging sign for us. It is also true that the new vaccines were based on technologies that were already in place.

Previously, I laid out what happened when I ignored my duty to my wife by failing to take care of my health. My selfishness and fear directly affected her well-being.

Isn’t that the same thing that is happening now, with those who refuse to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, to wear masks when required, and to socially distance when necessary? Do those people ever stop thinking about themselves and consider the effect they are having on the rest of us? They clamor about wanting to return to “normal” life, but they fail to do their parts to make that possible. They only prolong the pain and suffering for everyone.

Not the least concerned about the well-being of their followers and unwilling to intelligently address their concerns and questions, self-interested politicians and media personalities (most likely vaccinated themselves) whip them into a frightened frenzy.

I just learned that some “never-vaxxers” are even pretending to be the sole survivors of the pandemic. It seems that critical thinking and logic are too hard for these folks to undertake. Instead, they enjoy the notion that they have no responsibility to their communities, let alone to the billions of others on planet Earth.

I cannot understand any of this, and I cannot forgive it.

Is a portion of humanity really degenerating to a selfish, terrified state?

Want to be a Sole Survivor? – Roma, Italia courtesy of ‘Mrs. Anton’

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