ME TO THE VACCINE HESITANT: YOU SHOULD FEEL SHAME, AND YOU DAMAGE THE SOCIAL CONTRACT, THE SAME THING THAT PROTECTS YOU IF YOU’RE VULNERABLE.

Two problems with the “vaccine hesitant”. First, they should feel shame, and our culture happens to oppose that. Second, they attack the social contract, which is something many of the “vaccine hestitant” depend on. That’s as damaging as a rich right-winger insisting he shouldn’t pay taxes.

Shame.

Our society now forbids shame, at least officially. Of course many movements use shame to castigate those deemed unacceptable. But shame isn’t a “social construct,” not like race or language. It’s linked to disgust, which many animal species display. Your dog certainly feels it, and, whatever I say, so do I.

People who won’t get vaccinated provide the virus an avenue to infect and cause disease in people around them. If they won’t get vaccinated because they think it’s unsafe, they’ve decided a small risk to themselves is more important than a grave risk to someone else. This is shameful.

Even those who choose to buy into fake news (and it is a choice) recognize that millions of people have gotten the vaccine and aren’t dying. But the total impact of Covid may approach a million deaths in the US alone, if we’re not careful. If someone doesn’t get vaccinated, they should feel shame.

Social Contract.

When I read how to talk with people who are “vaccine hesitant,” it’s to recognize they don’t understand or respond to genuine news, or they have difficult employers, or they are too poor to manage things. And here’s where I stop.

There’s a social contract, in our communities, and in our country. I believe my own and others income taxes should be high enough to ameliorate the condition of the poor. But a social contract is woven by all, not just those with plenty.

I often think that right-wing populists shred America’s social contract willfully. By claiming government is the problem, they excuse themselves from the difficult task of figuring out how to work together to solve common problems. Especially, of course, avoid paying for them.

But lacking education, assets, and/or decent wages, does not relieve someone from putting their thread into the to the woven social contract when the time comes. When people claim their people’s historical injuries, or institutional distrust, cause them to not get vaccinated, they put people like myself and others at risk. They allow the virus to continue to circulate, and, ultimately, mutate. They damage other lives by concern for their own. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s what right-wing populists do.

Participating in a social constract is a two-way relationship. Don’t expect me to support programs that alleviate suffering of poor Americans, though I want to, if those very Americans willingly promote suffering of my family.

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Brian Coyle

Brian Coyle

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