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the Empathy List #59: Vax Obsessed
Are you getting the COVID vaccine?
Hey friend, Liz here.
I finally have an appointment to get the vaccine that everyone’s been obsessing over.
I’m late to the ballgame because I’m a mere 34, I have no preexisting conditions (at least, not the type that makes me eligible), and I work from home. I’m a lover of science and a devout religious person, which may sound like a paradox to some ears, and I’m delighted to be receiving my shot in the arm next week.
The obsession over this vaccine comes from both sides—those “for” and “against” the science, or at least, those “for” and “against” cultural trust in science.
We face heart-felt opinions daily: yes, duh, get the vaccine if you ever want your old life and/or mental health back. Or, no, never get that shot, not unless you want to ally yourself with Satan. (Sigh.)
We humans have an uneasy relationship with truth.
We adopt whatever bolsters our preexisting beliefs and we ignore what doesn’t. We accept facts that allow us to maintain equilibrium and diminish the ones that admonish. We welcome any version of truth that appeases our fears and we deny any version of truth that riles up our insides.
In fact, whatever side we sit upon, we ALL agree is that the hazy grey zones are AWFUL and ABHORRENT. We all prefer black-and-white moralism.
Liberal moralism says, the ONLY right choice is the vaccine; trust the science. Conservative moralism says, the ONLY right choice is the one I make myself; trust the individual. Religious moralism says, the ONLY right choice comes directly from the mouth of God; trust the spiritual.
Might I humbly suggest an alternative? Perhaps you and I don’t have all the answers.
Yes, we can make informed decisions (re: the science is good counsel). Yes, we can consult those wiser than us (re: the CDC, your preacher, your doctor).
Even so, we still might make the wrong decision. (Or, by accident or design, the right one.)
We humans just don’t know enough about ourselves and our world to guarantee certainty. Ultimately, to make any choice requires courage.
You might have gotten the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, only to discover the blood clot problem later on. Or you might have skipped the vaccine altogether, and caught COVID. Or you might happily experience confirmation bias when your decision works out perfectly for you.
While I do believe that right and wrong originate in God, and that they do exist in the world, I think there are many more grey decisions in our lives than we feel comfortable admitting.
Truth may be harder to find than we believe it to be. And worse, the future is impossible to predict, even with all the best information available to us.
Fear tells us that there is always a clear right and wrong choice, and if we pick rightly, we will be safe. Yet safety is an illusion. That is, the illusion is that you can keep yourself safe in your own power.
Which is exactly the reason why my ancestors in faith turned to the one higher than themselves—they understood that power does not reside in our puny human selves, but from outside, from the creator of all.
Do you and I understand that? I’m not always sure that I do… but I’m walking forward anyway.
Question for you: are you getting the vaccine, when it’s your turn? (Or have you already received it? Or turned it down? And how did you make that choice?)
Thanks for reading. Warmly, Liz Charlotte Grant
And if you like what I’m doing here, would you forward this email to a friend?
Some parents follow the lead of their kids’ teachers:
“Effective immediately, your mother and I will begin parenting asynchronously.” ;-)
…If only my six- and eight-year-old would go for that. (I could use an Aspen vacation.)
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency | Read more…
The award-winning podcast team, Serial, has a new project: this time, they’re going deep on a real case of election fraud in the God-blessed US of A—the only American election that’s ever been thrown out because of fraud. Fraud committed by Republicans. To disenfranchise black voters. (Yikes!!)
Serial Podcast | Listen…
As the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin wraps, Minneapolis, Minnesota mourns the loss of another black man, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was shot by police this past weekend after being pulled over because of a suspicious air freshener hanging on his rear view mirror (or so he told his mom over the phone). Apparently, the officer reached for her taser and somehow fired her gun instead. The officer has been charged with manslaughter.
CNN | Read more…
The most famous “Exvangelical” on TikTok is Pastor John Piper’s adult son, Abraham Piper.
“If you just want to roll your eyes at how weird it all was, that’s what I’m here for,” Piper told his nearly 1 million followers.
New York Times | Read more...
You know those quarantine pets everyone seemed to be adopting?
Well, here’s one way to say goodbye when the fateful day comes, according to one dad’s account in “Funeral for a Hamster.”
“His name was Marty. He was born in captivity at the pet store at the mall and liberated into the loving arms of an eight-year-old boy named Ori on Monday, January 20, in the year of our Lord 2019.
I never imagined I would knowingly bring a live rodent into our house — not after the night I killed a rat with a pitchfork on the living-room rug — but the other pets Ori had asked for were a parakeet or a python, so a twelve-dollar hamster would do just fine.
…For seven blessed weeks Marty lived among us, rolling across the floor in a plastic exercise ball, eating and drinking well, and taking naps burrowed deep inside the small wooden Volkswagen Bus Ori had chosen for inside the cage. For seven blessed weeks Marty rested in the crook of Ori’s elbow, listening to a young boy whisper sweet words.
The Sun Magazine | Read more…
Just for Fun…
A year ago, who knew that many of us would be counting down the days to the moment we’d be stabbed in the arm by a needle?
(From the New Yorker)