By PIERCE GRAHAM
ONE OF THE FOUNDATIONS of civilized society is, surely, the notion of the common good, or the benefits of living other than alone in caves, huts or tree-houses. Other names for the idea come to mind, of course, including family, kinship, relationship, friendship, community, culture, and so on.
Any differences between them are of degree, not of kind. All these words refer to the notion of cooperative and mutually supportive social structures. All life, from ant colonies to human megacities and nations, depends on those structures.
Philosophers during the late Renaissance and the subsequent era known as the Enlightenment – in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – wrote extensively on this subject, but the process itself is as old as homo sapiens.
It is, in fact, the quality which makes homo sapiens what he is – man the wise – the intelligent ape; the ultra-social ape: never as mindless as a member of an ant-colony, but equally as intent on social purpose.
Yet, ironically, there exist in most societies small groups of – usually- uninformed or misinformed people who, while contributing nonsense to social intercourse, benefit from it without question or quibble.
And the irony is that they are more noticeable in, and probably exist only in, highly developed and educated societies. I refer here to groups which define themselves by their supposedly high-intentioned refusal to participate in essential social processes, such as public education, but most notably, public health measures such as immunization.
One of the greatest ironies of this “movement,” if I may so loosely refer to it ( pun intended), is, that while what we have called the third world – the underdeveloped nations with barely nascent social, educational, government and health – is literally crying to us for medical aid to fight pandemics and endemics, the smugly safe pseudo-intellectual individualists in our midst haughtily denounce such medical treatments as invasions of their privacy or individuality.
Besides the grossly anti-social aspect and the blatant arrogance displayed by these people is their utter hypocrisy. I would wager that not a single one of the anti-vaxxers in our society would for one moment haughtily refuse and denounce the treatment offered by our ambulance, hospitals, nurses, or doctors, if they or one of their children became infected after having refused the preventive vaccine.
They are, quite literally, grossly hypocritical. But I am equally sure that if such a situation were to occur, the offer of medical services would not be refused.
If this kind of anti-social ignorance continues to flourish, or is permitted to flourish, I fear that our very social fabric will be severely weakened. We will have devolved to a society of several classes of membership – both in duty and in benefit – based not on wealth or ability to pay, as in the past, but on ignorance – ignorance of historically, scientifically, medically, socially proven matters.
If – or when – ignorance, prejudice, illiteracy, stupidity, religion, or any other uninformed challenge to proven medical science challenges the purpose, the purse, or the goals of public health, that challenge must be isolated and destroyed.
If that includes some supposedly misinformed religious cultism, so be it. Mankind and its social functioning have come too far – erroneous side-trips included – to allow mythology, superstition, ignorance or stupidity to mar or challenge the innocent.
To do so would be like allowing a child to stay in diapers until an age when diapers were no longer functionally, socially, aesthetically, or morally appropriate. The option of ignorance should never be on the menu.
Most of us have grown up as a result of social, scientific, medical, and governmental processes and support. Those whose refusal to participate in the process is based on ignorance have failed their fellow man, forfeited their benefits, and gambled with their children’s lives.
I hope we never have to implement such discrimination, yet the fools call for it. Compulsory immunization is required of immigrants, for mutual safety and benefit. Why ignore those already here or newly born here? Do our children deserve less than newcomers?
Pierce Graham is a retired vice principal of NorKam secondary, a long-time English teacher, and a member of the Rube Band.