ethics, Ex, family, healthcare, lessons learned, love, marriage

Moms really should be ready for the challenge…

Yesterday evening, I read a heartbreaking article in the Washington Post written by a retired pathologist from New Hampshire named Thomas Gross. The doctor wrote about having to perform an autopsy on a tiny four month old baby girl. It was his first time doing an autopsy on a baby, and the job was breaking his heart. But because the baby had died under somewhat mysterious circumstances, the procedure had to be done. So Dr. Gross began to explore the baby’s organs.

Dr. Gross described the ghastly condition of the baby’s pancreas, which was swollen to twice its normal size and covered with huge, angry looking, blood filled blisters. Her pancreas was abnormally rigid. The baby had previously been healthy. She’d started smiling and laughing spontaneously, and was even sleeping through the night. But then she suddenly got very sick, and spent her last hours vomiting, screaming, and crying inconsolably, in obvious pain. Dr. Gross soon had the answer as to why the baby was so sick. He discovered that the disease that had killed the four month old girl was pancreatitis. According to Dr. Gross’s editorial:

The condition was caused by a bacterium known as Haemophilus, type B (HiB), once a common threat to children. The epidemic stopped abruptly after 1985, when two American physicians patented an immunization for HiB. By 1987, the HiB vaccine was approved for use in all age groups. Cases of Haemophilus infection in children in the United States dropped precipitously in just a few years from more than 20,000 cases before the vaccine to just 29 cases in 2006. Deaths now occur almost exclusively among unvaccinated children.

The baby’s parents, no doubt loving and well-meaning, had chosen not to vaccinate their baby. They probably had never heard of Haemophilus, and it never occurred to them that she would get so sick that she would die. The girl’s parents probably weren’t around when babies routinely got sick and died of preventable infectious diseases like measles and polio. Besides, nowadays, everybody’s got the Internet, daytime TV, and social media to inform them, so they don’t always want to listen to what actual doctors recommend. Dr. Gross writes:

Many parents are too young to remember when young children died from measles, polio, smallpox, strep throat and influenza. They don’t remember when there was nothing that anyone could do about it except sit and watch. When the polio vaccine first appeared, mothers dragged their children to the public health clinic and stood in lines around the block to get them immunized. Before the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, pregnant women infected with rubella would invariably deliver horribly disabled and disfigured babies. Many children still die from measles; they are almost exclusively unvaccinated.

I could feel the palpable sadness this now retired physician still felt for the tiny patient whose memory still haunts him. Then I looked at the comment section on Facebook. At that point, there were only a few posted. One of the very first comments came from a guy named Chris who posted something along the lines of, “A lot of the people posting ‘sad’ reactions would have applauded the mother’s choice if she had terminated the pregnancy.”

It pisses me off when people– especially MEN– feel the need to conflate the abortion issue with every other issue even slightly regarding the welfare of babies. Chris wasn’t the only one who brought up abortion, either. So, although I know I shouldn’t have done it, I decided to respond. I wrote something along the lines of this:

A lot of “anti-choice” types are also against vaccines. If this baby’s loving parents had vaccinated her, she’d probably still be alive.

I noticed that Chris immediately responded to me. Another man gave me a “laughing” reaction. I decided to ignore them, because I didn’t want to get into a pissing match with them on such a pleasant June evening. I knew I’d be tempted to rip into him– in a much less delicate way– than the pathologist cut into the baby about whom he wrote his heartfelt editorial. Guys like Chris make me angry. They lack compassion, and they don’t see how sometimes terminating a pregnancy is actually the kindest thing a person can do. Aside from that, the story had NOTHING to do with abortion. It had to do with making wise and informed decisions for one’s offspring. In this tragic case, the baby’s parents, who obviously loved their infant daughter and hadn’t wanted to abort her, inexplicably chose not to vaccinate her. The unfortunate decision these parents made, on their daughter’s behalf, caused the girl to suffer needlessly. Ultimately, their baby paid with her life.

Being a parent is a huge responsibility. This baby’s parents no doubt wanted to embrace the challenge, yet they made a huge, fatal mistake that cost them dearly. This story, like so many others I’ve read, only underscores how very important it is to be ready for the job of parenting. Ideally, that job starts before an infant is even born. Prenatal care is so important, but we live in a country where access to healthcare is difficult and expensive. So many people focus on forcing others to gestate, but they don’t pay attention to whether or not the pregnant person is up to the challenge, and they don’t want to see to it that moms are ready for the awesome responsibility of raising children… or if they even want the job.

Of course, sometimes shit happens. I don’t want to dump on the parents in this sad story, because even years later, they probably still feel absolutely horrible about what happened. And they probably thought they were doing right by their baby, even though the whole sketchy “autism connection to vaccines” has been debunked for a very long time now. Dr. Gross wrote:

In 1998, the highly respected British medical journal the Lancet published a study suggesting an association between immunizations and autism. The author did not show immunizations cause autism. He merely pointed out that, in 12 cases of autism, all 12 autistic patients also received vaccines against measles. Incidentally, so did a hundred million other kids who had not become autistic.

The Lancet later admitted that the paper’s authors failed to disclose financial interests. The lead author was publicly discredited. The Royal Academy of Surgeons rescinded his license to practice medicine. The Lancet withdrew the article from publication.

But the damage was done. The loving parents of the baby on my table, well-educated and well-meaning, had chosen not to immunize her. Had they succumbed to the Internet hype that immunizations cause autism? Had they ever heard of Haemophilus?

Maybe the parents just didn’t know. The baby was just four months old. Timely vaccination might have just slipped their minds. Maybe they were planning to get her vaccinated at a later date. Who knows? What we do understand is that the baby developed a likely preventable life threatening disease that ultimately killed her in a painful way. If she’d been vaccinated, maybe things wouldn’t have turned out this way.

Continuing on this same theme, this morning I read another “Am I the Asshole” column. It was written by an older woman who came of age at a time when most women were expected to be wives and mothers. The letter writer explains that she wasn’t much into being a mom, but nevertheless, she had two children, a boy and a girl. Her children were “good kids”, and she did the best she could by them. But she admits that she was very relieved when they grew up and moved out on their own. She finally had the chance to do her own thing and discover herself.

The letter writer’s son, John, got married and had three children. Her daughter just has pets. Mom treats her daughter’s pets like grandchildren, which upsets her son. He thinks she should be more deferential to his human offspring over his sister’s dog and cat.

I don’t think the mom in this story is an asshole; however, I can empathize with John. John’s mom sounds a lot like my own mom. My mom had four children, and she often told me that she hadn’t wanted four children. Since I am the youngest, that means I frequently got the message that I wasn’t welcome. I remember watching my friends with attentive mothers and feeling painful surges of envy. My mom took care of me the best way she knew how, but she was never one to dote on me. My mom couldn’t wait for me to be on my own, and that was a message that hurt me a lot. She has also referred to my dogs as her “granddogs”.

I’m not saying my mom doesn’t love me. She does, in her own way. Our relationship is better now, too, since I don’t physically need her anymore. Now we can be friends. But I do remember what it was like to be raised by someone who was sometimes cold, and didn’t seem to care that much about me. Or, at least that’s how it seemed when I was a child. I see things differently now, and have come to respect and appreciate my mom more. It’s become easier to see her perspective now. There are a lot of issues I don’t have to deal with that my friends with more attentive moms do. I was also lucky in that I have always basically gotten along with my mom, in spite of her “hands off” parenting style. I think a couple of my sisters had a much tougher time with her than I did. On the other hand, my sisters got along much better with our father, while I had a lot of issues with him that still haven’t been resolved and probably never will be.

I think John should find a therapist and talk about these angry feelings he has toward his mom. He obviously still feels very hurt about how he was raised. He could tell his mom wasn’t that into raising him, and he knows she’s not going to be “super granny”. I don’t blame him for how he feels, but it’s not appropriate for him to punish his mom and try to force her to be someone she’s not. In the end, his kids will suffer, and when he inevitably loses his mother, he’ll still have a lot of unresolved angst, like I still do about my dad. I can’t help but realize that if my mom and the letter writer had been freer to make choices, John and I would have both been spared significant pain… and we would have been none the wiser, not having been born to mothers who would much rather be doing something with their lives other than mothering.

I’ll end this post with another personal story from last night. Regular readers might know that my husband, Bill, just became a grandfather for the third time. His younger daughter, who is an excellent mother, just had a baby last week. We sent her a package with treats from Europe. There was a Harry Potter hot chocolate mug from France that we picked up in March, but couldn’t fit in the last box we sent. There was chocolate from Germany, and a few gifts from our trip to Italy. In the box we sent were two books that I picked out for the two older kids. One was an activity book about Florence. Ideally, the kid would be in Florence as he or she explores the city, but I figured younger daughter and her husband could use the Internet to teach the kids about Italy and do the activities. The other book was a charming story I found about growing up independent.

I was wandering around in the bookstore at the Uffizi and this book caught my eye. It had really engaging illustrations featuring a baby zebra from West Africa. I don’t remember the book’s title, but I do remember the story was about an independent little zebra who wanted to try new things that he wasn’t quite ready to do. His patient and gentle mom told him that one day, he’d be on his own and he could then try all the things. But for now, she was there to guide him and teach him. It was a comforting, positive, and healthy message.

Unfortunately, Bill and his daughter have both been on the receiving end of Ex’s repeated manipulative ploys involving children’s literature. Ex has a bad habit of using books and music to make other people feel like shit. So Bill felt compelled to read the book from cover to cover in the bookstore, just to make sure there wasn’t a message in the story that would make younger daughter feel bad. Fortunately, he decided that I had made an appropriate choice, so he sent her the book. Hopefully, she’ll like it. It’s a book that I doubt her mom ever would have sent, since it’s about children growing up with a strong and protective role model who actually wants them to be independent and self-sufficient someday.

I think Ex loves being a mother, but only because it means she has family members who literally owe her their lives. She uses them as tools to further her own agendas. Her children aren’t stupid, either, because they can read between the lines. They get the messages she sends when she uses a book like Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree in her object lessons. She compares herself to the tree, and her children (and Bill) to the selfish little boy who takes and takes until there’s nothing left. But the reality is, the children are always giving to their mother, and she’s never satisfied. That has caused them pain, because obviously, their mother wasn’t up to the challenge. Her goal probably should have been to raise her children to chase their own dreams and live life on their own terms.

I’m not a mom myself. I always wanted to be a mom, but that wasn’t in the cards for me, for a lot of reasons. And because I barely know Bill’s daughters, I don’t feel like a mom to them… or a granny to younger daughter’s children. I do sort of feel like a mom to my dogs, though…

I don’t know if my overall message is getting across in this post. I know Bill is glad I’m here, warts and all. And I know my mom, ultimately, is glad she raised me. I do wish she’d wanted to do it from the get go, though… and I know enough people who haven’t had happy endings after being born into situations where the mom simply wasn’t up to the job. So that’s one of many reasons why I’ll always be in favor of allowing pregnant people to make choices, and that’s why I get triggered when losers like Chris conflate the abortion issue with any story about babies who die. Life is tough enough. Babies, especially, should be wanted, loved, and cared for by parents who want them. Pregnancy shouldn’t be an obligation or a punishment, and it shouldn’t be up to anyone to solve another person’s fertility issues. Moms, especially, should be ready for the challenge of motherhood before they accept it.

Standard
communication, complaints, Military, rants, social media

“Educate yourself!” Most of us would be wise to follow our own advice…

The featured photo is a meme that was posted by a popular veteran’s page on Facebook.

Happy President’s Day, everybody. We had a boring weekend at home, as is par for the course in these pandemic times. In ordinary times, we would have gone away for the weekend, but I’m actually glad we didn’t do that. The weather has been downright crappy. This weekend was cold, windy, and rainy. There was some sun on Saturday, but the temperatures weren’t very pleasant. And since Germany still has COVID measures going on, that makes me not want to go out. I don’t enjoy being indoors with a FFP2 mask strapped to my face and people watching my every move to make sure I follow the rules.

Does that sound paranoid? It probably does… but this is an attitude I’ve noticed over the past couple of years. People are watching. I generally do follow the rules, but I don’t like the feeling of being surveilled by strangers. My desire to go out and see the world isn’t strong enough to deal with that kind of scrutiny, so I just stay home.

I spent several hours yesterday creating a new “AM Gold” playlist for my music library. I downloaded quite a number of albums and spent some money I probably shouldn’t have. But, as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, ordinarily we would have gone out of town and spent the money anyway. We will be taking a trip next week to see our dentist in Stuttgart, then we’ll go spend the weekend in France. Hopefully, the weather will be somewhat better for that. I hope the COVID rules will be less onerous in France, too, but I’m not holding my breath.

We’ve come to a turning point in the pandemic, as was inevitable when this shitshow started in March 2020. Even cautious Germans are discussing dropping some of the rules. As of March 20, which would mark the second anniversary of the plague, most COVID restrictions are set to be rescinded. Masks are still going to be required, which I know makes a lot of people happy because they feel safer when people wear masks. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I hate the masks with a passion and will be delighted to see them go. But I generally follow the rules, so all I do is complain and avoid being in situations where masks are needed. Other people are much bolder about their rebellion, which sometimes leads to trouble.

Yesterday, I noticed a thread on Wil Wheaton’s Facebook page. He wrote a very kind and caring post about how he hopes those who haven’t been vaccinated will get the shot(s), because pretty soon, it will be every person for themselves. I appreciated Wil’s thoughts on this. I think he’s reasonable and well-informed.

I wish all famous people were this decent.

Not surprisingly, Wil got a few rude comments about how this is all a conspiracy to make money for politicians and “Big Pharma”. I was impressed by Wil’s reasonable and calm responses to the people who pushed back against his rational thoughts on the vaccines. And there were also comments from the other side of the spectrum. Several people lamented about how no one cares about them or their lives because they are immunocompromised. They are legitimately scared that when the rules are rescinded, their lives will be in danger.

On one level, I can sympathize with people who are immunocompromised. It is scary to think that soon there could be a “free for all”. However, on another level, I want to tell them that this is the way it’s always been. It’s really every person for themselves. For two years, people have lived with rules that have upended lives and caused significant problems. Some people have died during the pandemic, not because they got the virus, but because they suffered from mental health issues or delayed necessary healthcare. Or they’ve been in accidents or been victims of crimes. The sad reality is, life is about risks. COVID presents another one of many risks that we all face every day.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people to go on living with these rules and restrictions indefinitely. I also don’t think it’s realistic to assume that the whole world is going to get on the same page when it comes to their behaviors regarding the pandemic. Politics and religions, as well as cultural mores and personal needs, play into how a person behaves. I know that some people will choose to wear face masks for the rest of their lives. I don’t think there should be any issue with that. It doesn’t hurt you or me if someone chooses to wear a mask. On the other hand, other people will not want to do that. I think that should be okay, too.

I noticed one sanctimonious comment by a guy on Wil’s post who wrote he has a “needle phobia”, but still managed to get vaccinated. Someone else added, “I would tell anyone with a needle phobia to consider how many needles they’ll be subjected to if they are hospitalized because of COVID.” To those two people, I would say that neither of them understand phobias. The first person probably doesn’t have a legitimate “needle phobia”. The second person clearly doesn’t understand what it really means to have a phobia. People who have a phobia have an irrational fear, and even downright terror, of something that doesn’t ordinarily cause people to be scared.

For instance, I have a phobia of mushrooms. No amount of telling me how delicious they are, or how their flesh feels like a rubber ball, or how they are beautiful or cute, will make me want to see them, touch them, smell them, or eat them. I freeze up when I’m confronted by mushrooms. I know it’s ridiculous and irrational. That’s what makes it a phobia. Trying to scare people who have needle phobias, with mean spirited comments about what they will face if they are hospitalized, isn’t helpful. All it does is scare them even more, and it shows a stunning lack of compassion, as well as great ignorance. People have laughed at me for my whole life for having a phobia. I wish I could help it, but I can’t. Fortunately, avoiding mushrooms due to a phobia is not a life or death issue, as avoiding the vaccines might be.

One attitude that I’ve gotten really tired of is the constant need to shame people and discount their opinions. I’m not saying it’s wrong to express disagreement with someone. I’m saying that I’ve gotten tired of the derisive and downright rude responses people have toward each other– people they don’t even know– simply because they disagree. It’s on both sides of the pandemic issue. I don’t think it’s helpful, for instance, when someone writes a negative opinion about, say, vaccines, and a stranger posts a GIF of a crying toddler. Someone did that to me at the beginning of the pandemic. My response was to tell her to knock it off. That shit doesn’t help, and it’s rude and disrespectful. I won’t be having a dialogue with someone who does stuff like that. It doesn’t change hearts or minds, either. All it does is cause people to double down on their opinions.

This image is a false equivalency that really isn’t helpful.

Above is a photo that appeared on VoteVets, which is a left leaning Facebook page for people in the US military community. I know what the intent of sharing this was, but I don’t think these kinds of snarky, shaming posts are helpful. I also don’t think there’s any comparison between the two situations. One photo involves an adult person who presumably chose to join the military for whatever reason. Another involves a person who needs to go shopping for essentials. Everybody has to shop, and some people legitimately have good reasons why they have difficulties wearing face masks. Not everyone is suitable for military service or would willingly make the choice to serve. Moreover, I think it’s tasteless to use servicemembers to guilt monger others.

Sure enough, there were plenty of shitty comments posted about this image, with very few people changing their minds. It was just an echo chamber of negativity, wasted time arguing with people with diametrically opposed opinions, and plenty of virtue signaling thrown in for good measure. Actually, I’ve come to expect that in a lot of groups or pages devoted to the military community. Disrespect toward others seems to be a guiding principle, as long as there isn’t rank involved. It’s like they take out having to salute their leaders online, directing their rudeness toward perfect strangers. I’m so glad Bill isn’t like that.

Just a few days ago, there was an excellent editorial in The Local Germany written by someone who thinks Germany should be more tolerant toward people who can’t wear masks. The author cited his friend, an artist with autism and severe sensory issues that cause debilitating physical symptoms when she wears a mask. The artist lives in Britain, where people can get medical exemptions to wearing masks. Here in Germany, her experience was mostly very negative and unnecessarily nasty. Zero tolerance policies often lead to innocent people being punished, or people getting punished when they shouldn’t be, due to unforeseen circumstances. Since the article is behind a paywall, here are a few snippets:

What I think is especially sad is that whenever someone expresses an opinion, he or she is liable to be personally attacked by someone they don’t know. This is someone who doesn’t know a thing about the person they are insulting. They don’t know or care why someone has the opinion they have, nor do they care about the person they are insulting. They just spew aggression and insults. I know this is borne out of frustration and fear, not to mention the very real fatigue that comes with daily bad news about the rogue virus that keeps mutating and making people sick and/or killing them.

But… I’ve got news for those who think this COVID-19 lifestyle should go on forever. People die every day for a huge variety of reasons. Since March 20, 2020, I have lost three family members and a dear friend. Three of the four of them were pretty young to be dying, but not a single one of them died of COVID-19. COVID is just one of many risks that we face every day. A person who wants to go back to a more normal lifestyle isn’t a bad person for wanting that after two years of lockdowns, face masks, and limited travel. Yes, it would be great if every single person on the planet had 100 percent regard and consideration for other people, but unfortunately, that isn’t the way of the world. I wish it was, but it’s not. So instead of fretting about what’s going to happen when mask and vaccine mandates go away, I think it might be more prudent to take the steps that will mitigate risks and hope for the best.

There are always going to be people who think it’s too early to relax the rules. There will always be at least one person who will say the pandemic isn’t over yet. They probably won’t even be wrong. I commend those who are committed to being disciplined, as long as it makes them happy to be that way. I don’t think it’s right to condemn other people who choose a different path. This simply can’t go on forever, and there’s never going to be a situation in which everyone will be satisfied. That’s because we all have opinions, and those opinions are shaped by our own perspectives. If you want people to respect your views, you should probably try to respect theirs, even if you think they are dead wrong. I strongly doubt that we’ll ever have a situation in which everyone agrees. Part of living in a free society is having the ability to disagree.

I know it’s a pipe dream that people will be nicer about disagreements. I sure wish it weren’t so, though. For all of those who are screaming “educate yourself”, I would like to say that they should follow their own advice. Stop and think about it for a moment. Maybe that person does have a valid point. Either way, you probably don’t have to be an asshole to them… at least not at first. I know it’s easier said that done. So often, I’ve been tempted to leave a snarky or rude comment for someone. Then I’ll approach with more respect. Finally, I usually just delete my comment, because unfortunately, I’ve found that commenting on social media is just a waste of time. That’s mainly why I blog.

Standard
disasters, ethics, healthcare, modern problems, poor judgment, silliness

“I was born free… I’ll die free.” But Chad, dead people don’t need freedom…

Bill went to Stuttgart yesterday afternoon, leaving me alone with my thoughts in our big German “mansion” (ha ha ha). Actually, compared to our last house, it kind of is a mansion. It’s also priced accordingly, but we’re mostly a lot happier here, so at least we have that going for us, right? I do really miss some things about Stuttgart, though… like the beautiful scenery in the cute towns, and knowing my way around a lot better than I do here. Also, in Stuttgart, we didn’t have to deal with COVID-19, because it didn’t yet exist, hence the reason why I know my way around better down there. I got out of the house a lot more.

Like a lot of people, I am super weary of this stupid virus running my life. I’ve been doing my best to try to avoid getting sick, although I’m mostly living the way I have for the past fifteen years or so… basically as a shut in. That’s just the way life turned out for me, personally, for a lot of reasons. The one thing that has changed, though, is that I choose to stay home a lot more, mainly because here in Germany, we have a lot of annoying rules and restrictions that I prefer not to deal with. And since that means I’m social distancing, I count it as a responsible move. Yes, I am triple vaxxed, and I wear a stupid fucking mask when I’m required to, but I just don’t put myself in situations where that is required. Fortunately, I’m still basically healthy… as far as I know.

The same isn’t true for a 38 year old Hickory, North Carolina man named Chad Carswell. I read about him yesterday in the Washington Post. What makes him notable enough for a big newspaper article? He has severe kidney disease and desperately needs a kidney transplant, and apparently, there are over 100 people who have offered to donate a kidney to him. He also claims to have the money to pay for the surgery.

After almost two years on dialysis, Mr. Carswell’s kidneys are reportedly functioning at 4 percent, and they aren’t going to last much longer. Carswell applied for a kidney transplant to extend his life. But Mr. Carswell is currently not vaccinated against COVID-19, and the hospital where he wishes to get a transplant requires that he be fully vaccinated. Although I don’t remember reading it, my guess is that Carswell’s donor would also have to be fully inoculated. Mr. Carswell steadfastly refuses to get immunized against COVID-19, having already survived two infections, one of which put him in the hospital. Carswell “reasons” that he doesn’t need the shots. He told the post:

“There is not a situation in this world that I’ll get a vaccine. If I’m laying on my deathbed, and they tell me, ‘You have a kidney waiting on you if you get this shot,’ I’ll tell them, ‘I’ll see you on the other side.’”

Based on what I’ve read so far about this man, he says that this is a matter of “freedom” and his “rights”. And that’s fine. I totally get that some people are affronted by being told that they must be vaccinated, or they must wear masks… and they see these requirements as “government overreach”. In fact, I can even agree that a person should ultimately have dominion over what goes in or out of their bodies. However, just as Mr. Carswell has the right to refuse vaccines; his doctors have the right to declare him unfit for surgery because he’s not vaccinated against COVID.

I know a lot of people think COVID-19 is just a “bad flu”, never mind that the flu still kills people most years. I mean, I haven’t had the flu since 2013, but the last time I did have it, I really felt like dying. Indeed, that year, a lot of people in Texas, where we were living at the time, did actually die of the flu. There were even healthy teenagers who died that year of the so-called “bad flu”. In my case, it took me weeks to get over my sickness, and I was basically “healthy”, though unvaccinated against flu. Bill also got sick, but he did get a flu shot that year. He got well much faster than I did. I still remember being too exhausted to stay out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time. It took months to get rid of the hacking cough and lingering fatigue, and that was just the “flu”.

Carswell has already had COVID-19, and he’s been living with kidney disease for awhile… and he says he’s had health issues for years. So obviously, getting COVID-19 doesn’t scare him. I wonder if Mr. Carswell has really stopped to consider what would happen after he gets a transplant. I’m sure he’s been told that he will have to take powerful anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life. Those drugs basically drastically suppress one’s immune system, meaning that an illness that most people would consider mild could actually kill a transplant recipient. I’ve read a couple of excellent books about people who had organ transplants.

Author Amy Silverstein, who had a heart transplant, very bluntly wrote that getting a transplant is like trading one serious health problem for another, even though her new heart has made it possible for her to survive for many years beyond her initial operation, which took place in the 1980s. She wrote extensively about how the most minor cold bug would send her straight to bed for a couple of weeks. Friends would tell her to do things to “boost” her immune system, not realizing that boosting her immune system could kill her. Being constantly sick and concerned about her health even caused Amy Silverstein to consider suicide, even though she had been given the “gift of life” from a healthy 13 year old girl who had died in an accident at a “fortuitous” time for Amy. Fortunately, at this writing, Amy Silverstein has overcome her depression and, miraculously, is still alive and relatively well after having had a second heart transplant. The first heart lasted an incredible 26 years.

I went looking for more on Chad Carswell last night. I discovered his personal Facebook page, which has a few public posts open about his situation. It appears that he’s well loved in North Carolina and, perhaps around the rest of the country, for his steadfast refusal not to be pushed around by the Democrats… (eye roll). I came away with the idea that Chad Carswell and his friends are actual morons. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but that’s seriously how I felt as I read some of the comments left by him and his champions. These folks are apparently NOT mental giants, although Carswell appears to be physically rather imposing, from the chest up anyway. I read that he’s already a double amputee, thanks to his health problems.

There were so many comments about medical freedom and how Carswell was “fighting” for it. I want to ask him… what the hell good does “freedom” do for the dead? And why should someone give up a kidney to someone who doesn’t respect the sacrifice enough to do everything possible to see to it that the transplant is a success? As of yesterday, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been declared safe and are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That was one complaint the anti-vaxxers had about the shots. Now, they don’t have that complaint anymore. Moreover, although vaccinated people can and do contract and spread the virus, it’s clear that vaccinated people don’t usually get nearly as sick as the unvaccinated do, and they are much less likely to be hospitalized for COVID. I’ve already mentioned that donated organs are very precious, and taking the medications to keep those organs functioning will make Carswell medically fragile. So why wouldn’t he want to do what he can to ensure that the donated organ doesn’t go to waste?

Personally, I think Carswell is really enjoying the attention he’s getting. I suspect that this unusual turn of events– Carswell’s health problems, our current ridiculous political situation, COVID-19, and the annoying restrictions people are having to tolerate because of how quickly and easily it spreads, have come together to make the “perfect storm” for a man whose life probably hasn’t been especially noteworthy under other circumstances. I know some have said maybe he’s “afraid” of surgery or of needles, but it’s obvious he’s already endured other medical stuff, to include amputations of both legs. So I don’t think he’s “afraid”. I think he’s enjoying being on the Trump train, getting attention, and being held up as a poster child for the unvaccinated and their “rights”. There’s power that goes along with fame, and this is Carswell’s fifteen minutes of fame. I’m sure it’s intoxicating to experience that kind of fame. But refusing a safe vaccine to protect his donated organ and his health is probably going to cost him his life.

Below are some very telling quotes from Carswell’s very public Facebook page:

“If I DIE in pursuit of my magnificent OBSESSION then so be it I went out FIGHTING for what I love! But today while I’m here I will show you I’m still a LION and I’m still KING of the jungle! I’ll show you how hard I can FIGHT ! “ c t fletcher Pretty stoked about this afternoon! Even more blessed that god showed me along time ago my purpose on this earth and gave me and showed me the strength I needed to stand up and fight for those things but also the ability to help others . This journey isn’t about me I’ve said it 1k times over if it was I would have quit along time ago. It’s about the countless messages I get randomly telling me I help and this journey helps them . It’s the tons of people telling #lifeon daily. It’s not just a saying it’s a movement that just simply means FIGHT! The switch was turned on and now we must LIVE!

And…

You know I’ve been asked a few times the last few days why I keep going . What makes me keep
Fighting . And I told everyone as I always do the same thing it’s not about me it’s about others. But this message I got just a few min ago brought tears to my eyes not just bc the absolute amazing voice behind the song that was recorded just for me but for the sheer thought of a stranger in another state cared for me enough to send me this. All while telling me that she’s had her own struggles but seeing my journey has inspired her to get up stop feeling sorry and FIGHT! This isn’t about me it’s about the ability to change the world and impact people all across the country! If i get a kidney great if I don’t and i help motivate people to keep fighting then I’m just as blessed in heaven! Just take a min and listen to this stunning audio . Thank you to the one who sent me this she didn’t want any credit but I couldn’t let it go without being shared!!! This is why I keep going this is why I fight !

He says he wants to FIGHT, but he’s not trusting the people who can help him win the fight. His situation makes for “pretty” Facebook posts, though. I do hope the woman who wrote to Chad doesn’t follow his example.

The excitement of the story being shared has been dwindled by the sadness that I just found out my sweet dear Mrs Mary Byrd Voss passed away earlier this afternoon. She was a blessing to me and my life she called me her “Greek God” . She’s at peace and with her son billy and her husband now. I love you Mrs Mary and am grateful and thankful you were placed into my life . I’ll cherish our friendship forever ! See you soon! #LIFEON

Yes, Chad, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you will indeed see Mrs. Mary again real soon. But you go on with your bad self.

🚨🚨UPDATE🚨🚨 Listen friends idk for sure yet BUT! Something very promising may be in the mix real real soon! I just had a phone call that may allow us to reach even more people than we thought ! The meeting with the paper went well . Hopefully they do the right thing and right the article it’s like I told her this isn’t about me or for me or for me to get a kidney . I’m prepared to die over this this is about reaching more people and continuing the journey and mission to help others . And I wanted to make sure they knew it wasn’t about me it was more for getting my story out there more to continue to inspire others . But the phone call I got after I left there could be even bigger ! So shoot up a prayer that if the lords will be done this happens so the mission can continue to grow and reach othersUPDATE so was waiting on this call before I said it but Dave Faherty reached out from Channel 9 news and I am meeting with him here in about 15 minutes ! I’ll keep y’all updated !!#LIFEON

And… (“Life on?” Reminds me of “Be Best”.)

Lol so some people think this is me being selfish or this is me wanting attention or this is me whatever the ones who know me know I could care less about that I just want to help people ! But remember when I said today it’s a vax but what’s next ? How bout kids over the age of 5 with cancer being forced to move out of the Ronald McDonald house if not vaccinated by the end of the month ? WAKE UP PEOPLE! The choice we make today effect the life we live tomorrow !!#LIFEON — with Chad Carswel.

These are just a few public statements Mr. Carswell has made. It’s clear to me that he’s quite pleased to be newsworthy, and he’s enjoying the power he’s getting from taking this stand. And as a fellow American, I certainly support his right to “freedom”, although I think if he really wants to commit suicide, there are more efficient ways to do that than languish with kidney disease. I want to ask Chad how his being very sick and facing death for want of a vaccine is “helpful” to anyone, especially to those who really do want to live and are willing to do what they need to do to make that happen. Millions of people have had the COVID shots and the VAST majority of them are fine.

As far as I can tell, no one is forcing Chad Carswell to get vaccinated. At this point, no one is forcing anyone to be vaccinated. What’s happening is that conditions are being placed on those who choose not to be vaccinated. Those conditions are being placed to protect those who are willing to think of the community as a whole instead of just themselves. COVID-19 is extremely contagious, and as a medically compromised person whose body has already been through hell– to include having had COVID twice– I want to ask Chad why he doesn’t value his own health more. And why is he seeking help from medical experts if he won’t follow their advice? Why go to a surgeon and ask for a donated kidney if you don’t trust doctors when they tell you that getting COVID-19 when you are extremely immunocompromised is a terrible idea that will likely lead to tragic consequences? Why should medical professionals waste their time, energy, and resources to help someone who apparently won’t help themselves? If Chad won’t get a vaccine, how do healthcare professionals know that he’ll take anti-rejection medications?

And better yet… why should I give a shit? Well… I think I give a shit because of comments like the one below, which I’ve seen being shared on social media.

Double amputee Chad Carswell of North Carolina must have a kidney transplant to live.Multiple businesses raised funds for the surgery, and more than 100 people have offered to donate a kidney to spare his life.But Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem told him he can’t have the life-saving procedure unless he gets vaccinated! The vax has proven completely ineffective and doesn’t protect those who got the jab from getting it…yet the hospital requires it or will let the man die. The facility that should be helping save his life is now preventing that help. Think about that….

The person who posted the above comment is clearly not a medical expert. I looked at her Facebook page, and these were her credentials:

Someone please tell me how someone with these clearly “artsy” credentials is qualified to comment about someone else’s health status? What does she know about organ donation, virus transmission, or vaccines?

But the person who wrote the above post can obviously write. She has worked in public relations, marketing, and “ghost writing”. She’s studied music. So that tells me she can put on a performance. She can write coherently. If she’s done public relations, she probably knows how to influence people and spin a narrative that will cause less informed people to care and share her wrong-headed conclusions. So that makes her a potentially dangerous source of disinformation. This person isn’t a medical doctor. She isn’t a nurse. She hasn’t studied public health or epidemiology. She does public relations! I don’t even know if she knows Mr. Carswell personally, or has any real knowledge of his medical situation or even the general needs and concerns of people who need organ transplants. Yet she’s trying to rally the troops to his cause, which is almost surely bound to end in death if he doesn’t get with the program. To use her own words, “think about that.” Especially since, at this writing, the above post has 148 “likes”, 284 reactions, and 65 shares. And every time someone shares her post, the potential for it going “viral” increases, which means that more people will possibly be misinformed. (Incidentally, for anyone who wants to accuse me of the same thing, I actually DO have a master’s degree in public health and used to work in epidemiology. No, I’m not an expert, and I don’t claim to be one, but I do have faith in the people who have been to school for much longer than I have, studying medicine, public health, and related subjects.)

Below is a post from one of Carswell’s lifelong friends…

I’ve known Chad Carswel my entire life! As kids we use to crawl through the drainage pipe under his grandmas driveway pretending to be army men! Chad is a stand up man, and an inspiration to all who know him! If anyone deserves a kidney he is definitely on the top of the short list! To refuse him life saving medical care over a vaccine that isn’t even effective at preventing infection is absurd and asinine! How is refusing life saving treatment “doing no harm” as the oath states? My hope and prayer is that he will find a doctor with half a brain and an ounce of sympathy and perform this surgery for him! Please friends and family lift him up in prayer! Pray for healing, and for a doctor that will stand by his oath!

Friend, if you really think Chad is a “stand up man” (impressive, given his double amputee status), and “deserves a kidney”, then take a moment to ask yourself why someone should donate an organ to a person who doesn’t follow medical directives by people who have studied for years to become medical experts? Why should people who have given so much time, money, and energy to study medicine do surgery on someone who stubbornly refuses to take their advice and, in fact, spreads disinformation about a deadly virus in his PR campaign against vaccines and, frankly, liberal politics? This really shouldn’t be about “owning the libs” or anything else political. This is about a man’s health– life and death– as well as the well-being of those who are following this story. If something isn’t done soon, your friend who needs “life saving medical care” is no longer going to need treatment, or freedom. Dead people, in fact, have no need for “life saving medical care” or freedom.

Anyway… in spite of this lengthy screed I’ve written, I genuinely do think Chad Carswell has every right to make his own decisions. But that right extends to other people, too. Right now, the evidence is clear– worldwide, mind you, not just in Biden’s “liberal” camp– that COVID vaccines are essential for preventing severe disease. The vast majority of competent healthcare professionals, and obviously the ones in charge of Chad Carswell’s case, agree that the vaccines are absolutely necessary. And yes, most of those people do have more than “half a brain”, and I’m sure a lot of them have sympathy and, more importantly, empathy, for Chad’s half-baked position on COVID vaccines. But even Donald Trump has said vaccines are good, and God knows, Trump wants every vote he can get in 2024. He got vaccinated, too, but if things keep going the way they’re going, his base is going to go extinct. As much as I despise Trump, I do have beloved friends and relatives who support him. I hope they have, at least, followed Trump’s lead on COVID vaccines.

So… to Chad and his followers, I would say, if you don’t want to get a vaccine, that’s certainly your choice. But surgeons can also choose to declare you unfit for surgery, just as they might if you were determined not strong enough to survive. Freedom isn’t a one way street that just works for YOU. It goes both ways. And rules must apply to everyone; otherwise, we’ll have anarchy, which I understand Trump is against– he did call for “law and order”, right (except on January 6, 2021, that is)? So, I genuinely wish you luck, and I hope all of those thoughts and prayers lift you into miracle territory. Maybe there is a benevolent surgeon working at a less restrictive hospital system who will give you what you seek. If I were you, I’d start looking far and wide. Time is most likely not on your side.

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ethics, healthcare, law, modern problems, poor judgment

Medical freedom… or medical freedumb?

Today I reposted a 2017 era article from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife blog. That post was written in a time of blissful ignorance of what awaited the world just three years later. In 2017, I was inspired by reading about young people who were critically ill and forced to accept medical care decisions thrust upon them by older people. Most of the cases of the youngsters in that post suffered from cancers of some kind, but a couple of them had other medical problems.

In several cases, the young patients’ parents were religious or wanted to try a more “natural” approach to healthcare. The parents were taken to task by medical professionals who wanted to override their decisions. In one case, the patient was a 17 year old young man who was deemed mature. He didn’t like the chemotherapy that was prescribed to treat his Hodgkin’s Disease, so he tried to refuse it. Doctors sought to force submission by legal means. In the end, the young man’s case was the inspiration for “Abraham’s Law” in Virginia, which allows older teenagers and their parents to refuse medical care or choose alternative therapies.

It amazes me now to read about these controversial cases involving young people, especially given that COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar at the time. Nowadays, the term “medical freedom” is a hot topic, as people fight over whether or not vaccinations against the coronavirus should be mandatory for all who can safely take it. On one hand, there’s a group of people who want to be able to make all medical and healthcare choices for themselves, although a lot of the people in the anti-vaccine group curiously draw the line at abortions for other people. On the other hand, there’s a large group of people who fear the rapidly spreading COVID virus that has, so far, killed over 650,000 Americans and well over four million people worldwide. That group believes that people should be required to get vaccinated.

Although I am all for vaccination and I do believe that the vaccines are saving lives, there is a part of me that empathizes with those who don’t want to be forced to take it. I don’t think it’s smart to skip the vaccines. Many of the arguments I’ve heard against the vaccines seem to be mostly based on misinformation and conspiracy theories. A lot of people worry that there will be terrible side effects to the vaccines. Or they know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy whose balls shriveled up and fell off after the first shot. Personally, I think those arguments are pretty lame. But I also genuinely don’t like the idea of forcing people to do things. I wish those kinds of rules weren’t necessary, and more people would cooperate simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve read many stories of people who took a “wait and see” approach to COVID-19 and are now dead. Some of the saddest stories involve people who had young children or newborn babies. I’ve read at least three tragic stories about parents who have left large broods orphaned because of COVID. I’ve also read a lot of sad stories about people who are sorry they didn’t get vaccinated.

And I’ve also read about many conservative radio talk show hosts who have either gotten very sick from COVID or have actually died. There was a news story just this morning about a conservative talk show host named Bob Enyart, who had spread false information about COVID-19. He got sick and died. Enyart was vehemently against vaccine and mask mandates, and last year, he successfully sued the state of Colorado over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches. Enyart was all about making choices for his own health, but as a very vocal opponent of abortion, he apparently didn’t mind making healthcare choices for other people.

Curiously enough, Enyart was a Christian pastor, and he once gleefully read the names and obituaries of people who had died of AIDS while he played “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. What a charming man… huh? As Mr. Enyart was the 5th conservative radio talk show host to die of COVID in the past six weeks, perhaps the Queen song is appropriate theme for him and his ilk.

This morning, I ran across an interesting thread in the Duggar Family News Group. Someone, yet again, compared the COVID vaccine and mask mandates to seatbelt laws.

I disagree with this comparison. I also am old enough to remember when the seatbelt laws went into effect. At the time, I was pissed off about them. Don’t be too hard on me, though. I was a teenager.

I have mentioned before that I don’t think the COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates are the same as seatbelt laws. I mean, yes, I can see how people would make the comparison, but I don’t think it’s a very accurate one. When I was a child, I hated seatbelts and would only wear them if I was forced to… and generally that only happened when my dad was feeling controlling. In those days, a lot of people didn’t wear seatbelts. They weren’t as comfortable as they are today. Thankfully, as time has passed, the technology behind them has improved. I doubt we will ever be rid of the damned things. In any case, seatbelts are kind of different from masks and vaccines, as they don’t involve being injected into someone’s body, nor do they impact normal living and communicating as much as face masks do. You only wear them in the car. They don’t interfere with speaking, hearing, seeing, eating, or breathing.

And before anyone tries to tell me that masks don’t impede breathing, let me just stop you right there. I know they don’t. But some people do find wearing them oppressive, and the anxiety that comes from that might impede breathing. There are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason… not too many, I will admit, but there are some. Likewise, some people can’t wear seatbelts for whatever reason. A lot of times, the reason has to do with being very obese, but sometimes it’s because of an injury or an occupation.

The point is, I don’t think seatbelts will ever go away. However, many of us hope the masks will go away, if and when the pandemic ends. Personally, I don’t see the pandemic ending happening unless a lot more people get vaccinated. But even though I think vaccines are an excellent idea and I would strongly encourage people to get the shot(s), I also feel uncomfortable with government mandates on things like medical care. Because, there are people who can’t or shouldn’t get vaccinations, for whatever reason. I also understand that some people are genuinely concerned about government overreach. Their concern isn’t entirely unfounded, although some of the arguments I’ve read are pretty ridiculous.

One thing I don’t think is helpful, though, is being rude and insulting to those who disagree. I don’t like the dogpile approach to trying to change minds, either. The above photo was shared in the Duggar Family News group, and it did invite contention. One woman posted this:

I remember when this page was about snarking on fundamentalist Christian families on television rather than promoting the divide of human kind based on personal choices they make for what they put in their own bodies.

That comment led to this response…

Even though I understand the frustration behind this response, I don’t think it was helpful.

The original poster was offended by the image. She expressed her dismay that a total stranger would wish death on her. Then, a big, long thread of comments ensued, with the vast majority of people name-calling, hurling insults, being sarcastic, and typing “all knowing” responses at the original poster. Her response, rather than being convinced, was to dig in her heels and respond in kind. Then, she either got booted from the group, or left on her own accord.

The last comment ends with the person telling the OP not to go to the hospital because she doesn’t believe in science. I disagree with that attitude, too. If someone gets sick with COVID, I don’t want them out on the street, infecting others. I’d rather see them getting treatment.

So… what exactly was accomplished by this contentious exchange? Not much, that I can see. I think a more respectful and friendly dialogue might have done more to foster group harmony. Maybe no one’s mind would have changed, but at least there would be listening and constructive communication going on, rather than flaming and hair flip rage exits. No matter what, I don’t think it’s appropriate to wish death on people simply because they disagree with you. On the other hand, I do understand the sentiment and the frustration behind such responses. I will also admit to occasionally being a hypocrite when I get pushed too far. I’m human, after all. I do try not to start out with abuse and insults, though.

I have never liked “nannyism”, especially in laws. However, I understand why “nanny” laws are often necessary. Many people, when left to their own devices, will not do things that are in their own or the public’s best interests. I have always hated wearing seatbelts myself, but I do understand why they’re necessary. I also have a husband who will turn into Pat Boone if I don’t wear one. So I do comply with that rule.

Even though I fucking hate face masks, I comply with that rule, too. However, I hope someday it will no longer be necessary. And I had no issues whatsoever with getting vaccinated against COVID, because as a student of public health, I know the theories behind vaccines and have seen concrete evidence that most of them work. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to learning new information, nor does it mean I’m not aware of potential risks from certain vaccines.

Below is advice given to people during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I agree with most of it, although I don’t think it matters whether or not someone “obeys cheerfully”, as long as they are compliant.

From 2018, when the Spanish Flu was killing people. They used masks then, and the masks eventually went away. I hope the same for COVID-19.

My late beagle, Zane, was a prime example of a dog who didn’t do well with vaccines. He had mast cell cancer (immune system cancer) that eventually progressed to lymphoma. He was allergic to at least one vaccination, and would get tumors when he had others. I actually think some people over-vaccinate their pets, and some of the encouragement to vaccinate is due to the revenue vaccines generate. Dogs with mast cell tumors should not get any unnecessary vaccines. I’m a little concerned about Arran, because he is due for a rabies shot next month, and the rabies shots can stimulate mast cell tumors. Arran has also had mast cell tumors, though not to the same severity Zane had. Because of Zane, I have some sympathy for people who are against vaccines, even though I think their reasoning is wrong in most instances. We don’t vaccinate people like we do pets, anyway. We certainly don’t get as many shots as they do.

Although I do believe in vaccine efficacy, I am not one to run out and demand the latest and greatest shots, nor do I get every vaccine available. For instance, I’ve never in my life had a flu shot. I would get them if I spent more time around other people, though. COVID-19 is different, at least right now. There’s hope that the virus will eventually weaken and become less dangerous, as flu mostly did. But at this point, it’s not getting better. Many people are getting sick and dying, and from what I’ve read, COVID-19 is a pretty nasty way to go.

I do think sometimes we need laws to protect ourselves and each other from those who lack insight, perspective, and wisdom. On the other hand, I agree that people should be free to make choices, whenever possible. Either way, medical freedom doesn’t do a damned bit of good to anyone who is dead. So I do hope that those who are against vaccines will wise up and get with the program. I understand wanting to wait and see how other people do with the shots, but time is running out… I have read too many sad stories about people who waited too long and got sick. There are too many stories about orphaned children, and bereaved spouses, siblings, and parents. And too many people are becoming downright mean and NASTY toward total strangers. I wish we’d all remember that when it comes down to it, we’re in a community. And being in a healthy community requires compassion, responsibility, and solidarity.

That being said… sometimes people DO need protection from crazy beliefs. Case in point, an old Mr. Atheist video I came across yesterday. Religion and politics make people do stupid things, even to their children. So while I am mindful of the so-called slippery slope when it comes to government overreach, I also think some people need to be saved from “freedumb” ideas.

JWs are just one group that have beliefs that can harm others… especially their own followers.
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Germany, history, lessons learned, politicians, politics

Twenty years after 9/11, basic decency is disappearing…

A couple of years ago, I wrote my 9/11 story and posted it on this blog. Almost everybody who was alive on 9/11/01 has a 9/11 story. I guess the only ones who don’t are those who were somehow unconscious that day. Or maybe people who live in remote places they have never left, where the world’s news can’t reach them.

Suffice to say, those of us who live in the modern world, where there’s television and Internet, have a 9/11 story. Or, at the very least, they’ve heard other people’s memories of that day, if they weren’t around at that time. Like… I wasn’t here for John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but I’ve read and heard plenty of stories of that day. I think 9/11 was much bigger than Kennedy’s assassination. 9/11 permanently changed the world.

I remember 9/11 very well. It was the week after Bill and I, then just “friends”, had a magical Labor Day weekend. No one in our families knew we were dating. So, when Bill went to work at the Pentagon on 9/11, no one knew that he had a special friend who would worry all day, wondering if he had survived. After 9/11, we decided that we needed to make our relationship official. A few months later, we were engaged. We married in 2002.

I remember what it was like for Bill in the days that followed September 11, 2001. At that time, people had come together in solidarity. There were people who offered their support to any and all emergency workers. Police officers, nurses, doctors, military service members, firefighters, were all being heralded as heroes. I remember how people would stop Bill when he was in uniform and thank him for his service.

I read a story this morning about a couple who happened to be on a flight from England bound for Houston, Texas that got diverted to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, Canada. They fell in love while they were stranded in Canada. Aside from falling in love, the couple, along with all of the other 7000 people who were suddenly diverted to Gander because of terrorism, enjoyed the most extraordinary hospitality from the locals in Gander.

Americans were Americans, before they were Democrats or Republicans. People came together to help each other through a crisis. It wasn’t just Americans, either. I wasn’t in Germany at that time, but this morning, I read an article about what it was like in Stuttgart on 9/11. Germans and Americans stood side by side in solidarity as people made sense of what happened.

Above is a post that reminded me about how Germans and Americans came together after 9/11. That photo brought tears to my eyes yesterday, partly because I was moved, and partly because it probably wouldn’t happen in 2021.

Twenty years later, it seems like most of the goodwill and civility that was so prevalent after 9/11 is gone. Now, on 9/11/21, we have people laughing at teenagers who share personal stories about losing family members to COVID-19. Grady Knox, a high school student in Tennessee, bravely tried to explain why he thinks mask mandates are a good thing to have in his school. People told him to shut up. It could not have been easy for Grady to stand up and talk about losing his grandmother. Public speaking is not easy for a lot of people. But for him to stand up and speak and then have his neighbors laugh at him and tell him to shut up… well, that’s just shameful. And it makes me think that those people are not good people. They have learned nothing, and have no empathy for others.

What the hell is WRONG with people?

Today, we have governors who are more interested in money and power than they are in saving human lives (except for the unborn, of course). Joe Biden– recently reviled for the way the U.S. military FINALLY left Afghanistan after twenty long years– delivered a tough speech, expressing how disappointed he is in the complete lack of concern Republican leaders have for their constituents. Biden has been threatened with lawsuits, as he signs legislation mandating that people in certain workplaces get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden is not looking so wimpy now, as he tells the governors to “have at it” in their plans to sue him.

President Joe Biden on Thursday issued two executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors and announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

From MSNBC: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-republicans-hope-derail-biden-s-bold-new-vaccine-policy-n1278900?cid=sm_fb_maddow&fbclid=IwAR07wYh1NCrCl2lTB2R_sMkiCVLML7tycCXzr-Srn8oyNeQuZhq0JtZjvOY

I read one comment from a Republican who said if Donald Trump had ever tried to enforce vaccinations, people would be “horrified” and calling for Trump’s head on a platter. However, I think it’s highly unlikely that Trump would have ever done what Joe Biden is doing. Trump does not care about anyone but himself, and he would not have done something that would alienate his conservative base the way the vaccine and mask mandates would have. There is a huge difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joe Biden has basic decency and respect for others. Donald Trump, simply put, does not.

Donald Trump’s encouragement to get the vaccine was lukewarm… he got boos and laughter. I think he’s created monsters.
Southerners who are getting sick aren’t thinking of anyone but themselves… until they get sick and realize just how fucking horrible COVID is.

Today, we have governors who are gleefully signing legislation that pits neighbors against each other, and puts bounties on the heads of women who seek abortions. Meanwhile, Greg Abbott is fine with people walking around, spreading COVID-19 as they tote their guns openly and run their mouths about their freedoms. Freedom means nothing if you’re dead… but try to explain that to some of these folks. They insist that COVID-19 is not a risk for them or or their families… or anyone else. Somehow, they’ve managed to ignore the news stories and documentaries about people who have had COVID-19. They’ve even managed to ignore Howard Stern, who has berated the willfully ignorant.

I can’t wait to vote for whomever runs against this man.
I empathize with his frustration.

This antipathy especially happens on the Internet. Even on the most benign of posts, there’s a chance someone will lash out with nastiness or unnecessary snark. Yesterday, I was answering a question on Toytown Germany from an American who is trying to get her US Moderna shots recognized by a local pharmacist, so she can enjoy a more normal life. I expressed empathy for her situation, commenting that it would be nice if we had a more global solution that would make it easier for people from all countries to get their shots recognized. It’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage the vaccines and reward people for doing the right thing. You’d think that would be a pretty innocuous comment, right? I certainly didn’t think it would go south.

Sure enough, some guy from up north responded snarkily, by sharing a picture of the yellow World Health Organization booklet, and writing that is the global standard that works fine. Yes, it’s true, that yellow booklet is used around the world. But, for some reason, the CDC isn’t using it, so that comment isn’t helpful. There are a lot of Americans who live in Germany. Some of them got shots when they went to the USA, where they were easier to get. Then they came back to Germany and, if they live in an area where there aren’t a lot of Americans, are not able to get their vaccines made official in Germany. This is a problem. I was trying to help someone solve the problem for themselves. For my efforts, I got a shitty comment from some smartass who thought that was the right time to act like a jerk.

I could have ignored it entirely. Or I could have responded with a snarky comment of my own. Instead, I agreed that the yellow booklet is useful around the world, but it’s not helpful to Americans in Germany right now. Americans aren’t issued the yellow booklets, even though that would make things easier. Being rude to me doesn’t change that fact. And then I added that I was trying to be nice, and being snarky and negative isn’t helpful to the community. Those kinds of crappy responses just discourage people from posting, which defeats the purpose of having an online community… or any community, really. Why try to help someone if you’re going to be mocked for your efforts?

I realize that even as I preach about this, I’m as guilty as anyone is. I do try not to respond to people with rudeness. Sometimes, I will admit, I fail. Because, like so many other people, I’m fed up. I’m tired of people who can’t simply cooperate and have basic respect for other people. But still, I think being kind is the better way to go, most of the time. I truly do believe that being understanding and decent is, overall, better than being angry, mean, malicious, and rude. There really is enough of that in the world today.

I think it’s sad that we haven’t learned much from 9/11. On September 11, 2001, people around the world came together in solidarity. On September 11, 2021, a lot of people are acting like selfish jerks. It’s depressing… although, I guess if I look for it, I can find some positive things about today. Like, for instance, the fact that Bill was not killed on 9/11, and despite everything, we’re still together and basically healthy and happy with each other’s company. But it’s hard to ignore all of the divisiveness and evil that is being perpetuated right now.

Twenty years later, when things had really gone to shit.

I do hope that people will find a way to come together. Right now, I’m reminded of the opening of the film, Lean on Me… as we see how things can change for the worse in 20 years. Maybe a new version of Mr. Clark is in order to straighten us all out… Maybe Joe Biden is turning into him now. One can always hope, right?

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