Suicide Is One Thing. Killing Me Is Another

Suicide Is One Thing. Killing Me Is Another


Leonard Zwelling

On November 18, 1978, The Reverend Jim Jones led the mass suicide of 918 of his followers in Guyana. It is generally thought that the people from the People’s Temple died by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. It was really Flavor Aid and had all sorts of drugs in it including cyanide, but the incident became the origin of the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid.” This refers to followers blindly doing what a leader asks without considering the consequences. It’s sort of what the Trumpers did when they followed his plea to storm Capitol Hill. This might be considered a mass suicide and we are in the midst of yet another.

The blind ignorance to the value of covid-19 vaccines and the refusal to get vaccinated that has led to about half of Americans being without protection against the deadly virus is yet another example of mass suicide. This time though, the mass suicide may also be leading to the death of many innocent Americans—those under 12 who cannot yet be vaccinated and those who will become victims of breakthrough infections with virulent variants of the coronavirus that have arisen because the virus is so widely circulating. All of this was preventable. None of it will be because so many Americans are choosing to commit suicide and in so doing putting others in danger. The unvaccinated over 12 are both selfish and foolish.

Finally though, it looks as if some businesses and governments are taking action in that they are mandating either vaccination or repeated testing. Frankly, I think it ought to be vaccination or stay home.

I understand the libertarian viewpoint that “no one can make me to anything.” Wrong. You stop for red lights. You can’t drink and drive. You can’t shoot up heroin and you can’t break into your neighbors’ house and steal his television. If you do those things there are legal consequences, the most popular of which are court, fines and jail time. The same ought to be true of vaccinations and I don’t just mean against covid although that’s a big one right now. MMR, DPT, polio and all the other vaccinations that modern medicine has devised to avoid potentially lethal illnesses ought to be a mandatory part of being an American citizen. It’s public health and public good that matters here. It is public health that has given us clean water and clean (or almost clean) air. More people are saved from serious illness by public health measures than ever by fancy surgery or costly drugs. The backbone of American health care is public health and vaccines are part of that effort. Vaccines should not be voluntary. They should be mandatory.

In the case of the covid vaccine, you not getting vaccinated endangers others. You are not just taking on risk yourself. You are risking the health of your family and everyone with whom you come into contact. It’s time to own up to your civic duty. Get the vaccine because the risk you incur in not getting the vaccine is not just your own. It’s mine, too and I am not willing to let you kill me.

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