I’m often struck by the bad that comes, and the good that doesn’t come, out of boredom.
On the individual level, it’s indisputable that boredom breeds bad things. In our youth, we get into things we know are wrong but out of fear of boredom and attraction to excitement, these things seem too much to resist. In our later years boredom can make us eat things we shouldn’t, spend idle time on low value tasks, and so on. As the saying goes, idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
On the macro level, being bored leads groups of people to Facebook, Twitter, video games, etc. in order to avoid what we perceive is the painful experience of having nothing to do. It makes sense, then, that even when a news story gets sizable coverage — a story that may not be all that exciting to begin with — we glue ourselves to our screens to get our fix. Ebola, anyone?
(I’m including me in this accusation, by the way.)
This week’s shiny object was the topic of vaccinations in light of a Measles outbreak that occurred at Disneyland in the last couple weeks. Group and social dynamics professionals must have had a field day with this subject as people of all professions, political persuasions, sexes, and ages chimed in. Once we get scope-locked on a topic like this, it’s easy to concentrate too much on the matter itself and not a larger issue at play. Let’s get at the surface issue first.
We don’t know the origin of the outbreak. A doctor at the Centers for Disease Control said the disease may have originated overseas by a foreign tourist or American tourist returning home. So we have no proof whether it came from foreigners, Americans who were in foreign countries, illegal aliens, or children whose parents chose not to vaccinate them.
The view from space shows us a different issue, which is individual freedom. A worthwhile read at World Net Daily by Dr. Lee Hieb makes several good points:
1. The voices shrieking to forcibly vaccinate people are the same voices shrieking to support a woman’s right to choose abortion under Roe v. Wade. If a woman’s body is sacrosanct, if she has the right to choose to deliver a child or not, if she has total authority over her body, how can she not have the right to accept or refuse a vaccination?
2. Medical ethics are clear: No one should be forced to undergo a medical treatment without informed consent and without their agreement to the treatment.
3. Science is never “concluded.” …The last word on vaccination is not in. It hasn’t even begun to be written.
4. If you believe absolutely in the benefit and protective value of vaccination, why does it matter what others do? Or don’t do? …The idea of herd immunity is still based on the idea that in individual cases vaccines actually are protective.
5. If you think the government has the right to forcibly vaccinate people – for the good of society – what is to prevent them from forcibly sterilizing people, or forcibly euthanizing people, or forcibly implanting a tracking device – for the good of society? You may think those examples are extreme (although two-thirds have happened), but the principle is the same. You are allowing government to have ultimate authority over your body. (Again, the whole piece is worth your time)
For a society to be civil and free, we must be able to make choices that result in unpleasant, sometimes deadly consequences, especially if the consequences don’t reach beyond us. If we can’t make those simple choices about our lives and that of our family, what else is there? You can make any argument in favor of doing something that supports the greater good of your community, city, state, or country — and we live with those arguments every day. At what point, however, do we draw the line on what we can and cannot live with?
By the way, “choice” in this case does not include the ability to murder a human being, even one that hasn’t been born yet.
Yes, vaccinations are important to fight off disease. Mrs. Cummings and I have vaccinated our children. We accept the risk of putting in our bodies the chemicals inherent in these vaccinations. Down the road, could there be some ingredient in vaccines that proves harmful? Maybe. But If you look at the statistics of how many people get vaccines compared to the reaction rates directly related to the vaccine, you’ll see that what we know right now is they’re fairly safe. Let’s go with what we know.
In the meantime, look for next week’s shiny object: Something along the lines of…oh, I don’t know…suspending a nine-year-old kid for threatening to use a ring from The Hobbit to make another kid disappear maybe (this happened)?