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'A Moral Choice'

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I'm grateful to the Journal for running the various stories about why people chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine ("Vaccine Stories," July 15), and especially for the two essays by Journal staffers ("Across Miles and Borders"). I am far less able to see the "fine people on both sides" ("Across Dueling Realities").

Exactly as was the case with the 2016 election and support of donald trump (sic), and the 2020 election of President Biden, I believe one's sentiments towards masks and vaccination come down to a choice of who one will believe — whose "team" one "signs up" with. And I think this is, fundamentally, a moral choice we are each making.

There is plenty wrong with our society, both in America and throughout the "Western world." I'm not going to list my complaints, because anyone who has opened their eyes, even for a split-second, has to be aware of the problems. I firmly believe each and every one of us has the power to do good and do bad, and that we have personal responsibility for our actions. Many of us are still brought up with a belief in an omniscient and omnipotent deity. I understand how unshakeable a belief instilled in a child by their parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors can be.

Still. For the last few hundred years, science has produced an awe-inspiring set of personally-verifiable explanations for many of the things that were once mysteries attributable only to the whims of one or more gods. Organized religion, since Galileo, has been a home for those who are too lazy or fearful to take responsibility for being a moral adult, deciding for ones' self what is proper. They'd rather listen to someone who pretends to have a hotline to God, and I doubt any good can come from such people.

That, I think, is why so many now assert that they are "spiritual but not religious." They are seeking a way to reserve space for the truly remarkable mysteries that remain without finding themselves sucked into the foolishness spread by right wing authoritarians in many religious hierarchies. Knowing there are mysteries is a vitally different thing than believing they are explained by some charlatan's interpretation of some ancient text. It is the difference between humility and narcissism. Knowing that mysteries remain does not in any way delegitimize the actual knowledge we have gained. Vaccines work. CO2 traps heat. A planet is not infinite. Viruses mutate if they are not prevented from spreading.

Too many of us still listen to the right-wing authoritarians speaking, they claim, in the name of God. You may not believe this, but it's obvious trump (sic) thinks it's the case. Why else would he have the military clear a path for him to walk to a church signboard for a photo-op with a bible?

To make the decision to ignore science — perhaps because of the misuse to which its resulting discoveries are often subject — in favor of "woo" is to have made a morally-significant choice as an adult. I cannot accept that responsible adults will refuse to participate in a public health campaign because they have sided with something indescribable and incomprehensible, and it makes me sick to my stomach to see how our society bends over backwards to "understand" them. Understand them? Easy. Understanding is not agreement.

Mitch Trachtenberg, Trinidad


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