A tale of
Sixteen years ago tomorrow, I was blessed to learn of the birth of my first grandchild — a gifted young man who, like his grandpa, plays sousaphone and, most definitely unlike his grandpa, is a second-degree black belt karate instructor who this weekend won medals in two hurdles events and is learning to pole vault.
His birth date is memorable not just for what it marks but for an odd coincidence. On the same day he was born — which happened to be a Friday the 13th — both his grandfathers were rushed to hospitals for emergency surgery. We made it through fine, though his other grandfather later succumbed to an unrelated illness. The important thing is, while we remember these odd coincidences, they don’t forever mar the joy of my grandson’s birth.
Years from now, we hope the same can be said for the couple whose wedding reception outside Hillsboro this weekend might remain painfully memorable because of the apparent suicide shortly thereafter of one of the guests in an adjoining corn field.
Weddings are events of great joy; suicides, of great sorrow. Both emotions demand expression, but neither should overwhelm the other. We hope and pray that the so-called covenant marriage being celebrated will forever bring great joy, and we hope and pray that the sorrow of the untimely death of one of those in attendance will lead at least some of us to question the ease with which people who might have had mental or emotional issues can so easily obtain firearms.
Whether we consider it enlightened, caring, God-fearing, or simply human, there can and must be room in our hearts for all those emotions and prayers — and more.
Grandson Henry, for example, will celebrate his 16th birthday Thursday by obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination on his first day of eligibility. He’s doing so not just to protect himself. He’s doing it to protect others.
Many people have understandable fears about the vaccine. Will it have unpleasant side-effects? Was the heroically swift cure too rushed for delivery? Science has answered those concerns as definitively as possible. Side-effects are likely to be much less severe than the disease itself. And while we never can tell about long-term impacts — witness such past miracles as asbestos — every shred of reliable evidence to suggests it’s safe.
Still, it’s fine to have doubts. But it’s also important to leave room for other thoughts and emotions, including the stark reality that unless at least 80% to 90% of the population is vaccinated, COVID is likely to continue and could mutate into something even worse, which our vaccines can’t control.
Deciding whether to get a vaccination may be a matter of personal choice, but just as wearing masks was more about protecting others than it was about protecting ourselves, it’s also a responsibility we must accept if we are to live in a civilized and caring society.
It’s not unlike last week’s story about a person allegedly driving 103 mph on a 30 mph city street. It was, indeed, the driver’s personal choice to risk his own life and a $1,400 fine but not his personal choice to risk others’ lives in the process.
Plenty of appointments remain available, and appointments aren’t even necessary. Doses of vaccine sit at the ready. It’s time to put our conflicting views aside and come together as a community to wipe out this scourge that has brought so much pain and suffering — physical, emotional, and financial — to so many.
Grandson Henry might appreciate a “Star Trek” reference at this point: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” Whatever your faith, politics, or reasoning, it’s time to put aside fear and show love for others by becoming vaccinated.
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified May 12, 2021