Every so often I have to stop and marvel at the world around me. We predict the future, and the future acts otherwise. Man plans, God laughs. And so on.
I recall a line from a novel, something about how a man should always be willing to get up in the morning, just to see what is going to happen. Fear an unbroken line of days ending at the grave, filled with the same ol’ same ol’? Don’t. It’ll be different. Might be worse, could be better. You just never know.
Which is, I swear, the mindset I try to bring to news that vaccine-preventable diseases are making a comeback, a story you read often these days. How strange to think that a war once considered over could flare up years later. (Sort of like post-polio syndrome, come to think about it.) How horrible to think that the anti-vaxxers will very likely not endanger their own children so much as yours. Check out this magical thinking:
Even so, parents like Ellison, 39, don’t buy it, and he points out that he comes to the issue with some expertise: He has a master’s degree in organic chemistry and used to work in the pharmaceutical industry designing medicines. His children — 6 months old, 8 and 12 — were all born at home. Aside from one visit to an emergency room for a bruised finger, none of them has ever been to a doctor, and they’re all healthy, he says, except for the occasional sore throat or common cold.
“The doctors all have the same script for vaccines,” Ellison says.
He is working to build and support his children’s natural immune system using three healthy meals a day, exercise and sunshine. He says if his kids get sick he would rather rely on emergency care than vaccines.
“It’s much more soothing to trust emergency medicine than a vaccine, which for me is like playing Russian roulette,” he says.
I can see why this guy no longer works for “the pharmaceutical industry.” I wonder what his exit interview was like.
Of course, my kid has been stuck so often she was a virtual pincushion, up to and including the three-shot series for HPV. This is the one I hear about most often now, among parents of teenagers.
“I just don’t feel right about it,” is the usual line. Of course, vaccinating your child against a sexually transmitted disease does feel a little squicky, but if you’re capable of the least amount of distance, you should be able to think it through. But instead, that emotion gets braided up with a certain sort of self-congratulation about being an on-the-job supermom, and then this article, or one of the million versions of it, lands on her Facebook page, and her friends (all of whom use images of their children as profile pictures) chime in with congratulations and seconds: “It’s just not right for our family now,” as though the family, their favorite sacred phrase, should get to weigh in on a teenage girl’s health, today and far into a still unknown future.
I always want to add my voice to the chorus: “Of course your daughter won’t have sex before or outside of marriage, because that’s what you taught her, and children always follow their parents’ advice, in all things. But what about the young man she will marry? How can you be sure he, too, has remained chaste, and will up to the night of his wedding, and forever after? Are you that sure?”
But I don’t. The Reaper is coming for us all, and if cervical cancer doesn’t get you, something else will. And someone will probably blame a vaccine.
How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was very fine, although busy. It’s late Sunday afternoon as I write this, and I’ve already made Alice Waters’ Meyer lemon cake and will shortly whip up a spinach and goat cheese soufflé to go with some grilled salmon, a fine way to finish off two sunny days of not-work. My taxes are filed and a pair of jeans that was tight last month fits a lot better today. Things could be worse. Tomorrow, they very well might be. But I’m enjoying the mild temperatures and all the rest of it today.
I drove through a corner of Mercer County, Ohio, about a million times when I was living in Fort Wayne and returning to the parental home place in Columbus. So I devoured this typically excellent Monica Hesse WashPost feature on the difficulty one hiring manager has filling jobs at an egg-processing plant he runs in Fort Recovery, Ohio (pop. 1,500 or so). Personally? I wouldn’t live in Fort Recovery for $55,000 a year, but I’m sure there are some people out there who would, although the story suggests there aren’t as many as you’d think. And the ones who are willing don’t always please the guy in charge of hiring. A very readable piece on multiple themes.
Neil Steinberg is that rare writer who gets a better column out of the outrage over an earlier column than the column itself. (Didn’t make sense. Sorry.)
Don’t miss Peter Matthiessen’s NYT obit. Great stuff.
And now it’s nearly time for “Game of Throooones.” So I have to go. A good week to all.