For What It’s Worth

I’m not a huge risk taker. I’m not trying to impress anybody, not trying to prove anything, except maybe to myself. I’ve never been a big proponent of the belief that personal growth is the be-all and end-all, the number 1 priority in life, as if self-improvement is all that matters, where the next things I do need to be bigger and better and even more dangerous than what has come before. This strikes me as grossly self-serving, and a misunderstanding of what freedom means.

Not everything I do needs to challenge me, needs to be like scaling El Capitan without ropes. Where does that all end, and at what end is one hoping to arrive? Maybe arriving isn’t the point? Frankly, this mindset exhausts me and I fight it like antibodies fight pathogens in the bloodstream. I resent the pressure and the expectations of having to find another mountain to climb.

Which all probably makes me sound like a stick in the mud. 

I’m all for being curious and learning things, and traveling to places I’ve never been. I’m not against being proactive or aspiring to some level of accomplishment, and I realize that being human inherently involves a certain level of risk. Facing our fears and all that…  It’s just that life presents its share of opportunities for growth without forcing the issue. It often comes down to what we do when they come along. Whether we say yes or no to them. 

I don’t think getting vaccinated for Covid-19 rises to the level of an accomplishment, something for which we need to be rewarded. In some ways, it’s an unremarkable thing, from the perspective of the recipient. What’s much more remarkable is the vaccine’s availability in the first place. And our reward is avoidance of getting really sick, or not dying.

Being vaccinated means that the virus is stopped in its tracks when it encounters me or anyone else who has been vaccinated. In a small way, I’m doing my part to bring this scourge to its grisly end.

Of course there is a certain level of risk involved! Of course we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen 10 years down the road! However, vaccine testing and analysis done up to the point of approval and since then has confirmed not only their efficacy—their effectiveness against the virus and many of its variants—but also that they are, by and large, safe for the vast majority of us.

Our lives are inextricably linked to one another. Situations come along where we all benefit from swimming in the same direction. The current poisonous political climate and related abuse of social media have made this difficult to do, and we have suffered immensely as a result.

I hesitate to describe getting vaccinated as an obligation we all have. I realize that some folks, for medical reasons, are hesitant or cannot receive the shot(s). But if the excuse is born of misinformation or stubbornness, or a misplaced sense of invincibility or patriotism, then let’s hope that our unvaccinated neighbors and friends and family will have an epiphany and see the light.

Echoing an old story, we have been sent a helicopter to rescue us from the flood waters. In the form of vaccines.                            

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