We've been documenting Covid hysteria pretty much since Not The Bee launched shortly after the beginning of the pandemic. We've all long marveled at how it has seemingly made people insane, wearing masks alone in their cars, refusing to leave their house for months if not years, even getting celebratory Covid vaccine tattoos.
Can you think of a more regrettable decision? And I'm including the fiery skull with the snake crawling through the eye sockets inscribed with your now-ex-wife's name.
There is something else at play here which finally occurred to me as I was puzzling over this most recent entry from The Washington Post.
We parents of young children who can't be vaccinated feel abandoned at this late stage of the pandemic.
She uses the global "we," as if no other opinion, no other viewpoint other than her own is conceivable, and if there is one its not legitimate enough to be entertained.
She speaks for all parents.
This is followed by a rather broad statement, "...feel abandoned at this late stage of the pandemic."
Keep that term in mind, "abandoned." She's been betrayed. The faith she placed in the people she depended on to tell her what to do has been violated.
Federal officials, it seems, have decided to leave it up to us to figure out how to navigate coronavirus risks for our children.
Leave it up to her? She had thought it was up to Federal Officials (peace be upon them) whom she worships as infallible, capable of parsing conflicting data and cutting through individual circumstances to come to one true Set of Guidance.
This lack of information has bred distrust in parents while putting public health agencies in an unenviable Catch-22 as they prepare to — finally, hopefully — vaccinate children under 5.
The sacred vaccine awaits, if only the most holy among Federal Officials, the Public Health Agencies decree it worthy.
That there is a choice to be made is lost on author Nita Farahany, a "bioethicist" and professor of law and philosophy at Duke University. For Farahany, choice is to be shunned. In her world, you do what you're told, and you like it — cherish it even.
But what happens when no one tells you what to do?
Either the risks to this age group are minimal, which potentially weakens the imminent message to vaccinate children younger than 5 years old, or they are more substantial, and public officials have failed to adequately advise parents about how to protect children in the absence of a vaccine.
All she wants is to be told what to do. She awaits The Word, faithfully holding dear to her beliefs.
This is not an opinion piece she wrote. It's a prayer.
It's not too late for public health agencies to correct course and issue guidance for what we should be doing (and not doing) to protect our young unvaccinated children from covid's short-term and long-term harms.
She still holds out hope but admits that even her faith is being shaken.
Why, Federal Officials, why have you forsaken her?!
The mixed messaging is frustrating. Public health agencies emphasize the importance of vaccinating older children and adults who interact with unvaccinated children — like my 2-year-old daughter. And they stress keeping these children distanced from others in public indoor spaces; or, when that is not possible, and ventilation is poor, making sure everyone is masked. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed its public masking guidance, leading cities and counties to abandon mandates, making it nearly impossible for parents to act on that advice.
Desperate and alone, she tries to perform as the Public Health Agencies would on her own.
I'm a bioethicist who, stuck in parental limbo,...
Her faith's purgatory.
...has become a fervent amateur epidemiology researcher, devouring information to decipher the risks to our youngest child. But like other parents, I'm exhausted from the effort and confused by the data, and I believe that public health agencies, not me, should be doing the work of summarizing the most salient findings and explaining how to act on them.
Thinking for yourself is an unbearable burden to mere mortals.
She goes on for a while, trying to make sense of relatively rudimentary data and yet remains flummoxed, knowing that she lacks the divine inspiration of the Public Health Officials.
She is doing what she can, continuing to perform the ritual sacraments that the Public Health Officials have taught her.
Everyone else in our household is vaccinated, and we are spending time indoors only with vaccinated friends and family. We also ask everyone to take a rapid antigen test before spending time unmasked with us. We do let our 7-year-old have indoor playdates with other vaccinated children, although we encourage them to play outdoors whenever possible. She also attends school in person (where the indoor masking requirement was recently lifted)
When the case counts came crashing down, we took our children out to breakfast a couple of times inside a restaurant with widely spaced tables, but as cases climbed, we went back to avoiding indoor dining with strangers. We postponed a plane trip to visit in-laws when the mask mandate was dropped. I have delayed weaning my 2-year-old to give her antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 through breast milk, one of the only ways I can actively protect her.
She did lose a child to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), so her caution is understandable, but that experience should have underscored the fact that life is always risky, and that you can't hide from all those risks all the time, otherwise you never get the chance to live the life you are so urgently trying to preserve.
Perhaps more to the point, it should have taught her that putting all your faith in health officials' decrees isn't always enough.
I don't think we are being unreasonably cautious.
A judgment call, to be sure, but her caution has an obsessive quality to it, one divorced from the science she looks to for salvation.
We are more conservative than many, but we balance maintaining the mental health and well-being of our 7-year-old — who needs to interact with other children and teachers, we've decided — with the risk to our 2-year old, and we reevaluate frequently.
Everyone has their own risk calculus…
…but we shouldn't be forced to wing it like this.
Making decisions for yourself is what adults do. It's what citizens do. There is ample information out there, easily understandable, and has been for at least two years, for her to make these decisions, decisions that take into account her own personal circumstances, which general guidance can never duplicate.
My own child is old enough for the vaccine but having done my own research I decided to skip it. It was a judgment call, and one I was happy to have the opportunity to make.
He got Covid in January (as have pretty much all his vaccinated friends), along with myself and my wife (both vaccinated) and we all had very mild symptoms.
Farahany can make whatever decisions she likes, but it's more than that. She doesn't want to make a decision. She doesn't want the responsibility. She can't fathom taking the responsibility.
She wants someone else to do it for her, someone she will happily turn over the well being of her child to. The same Public Health Agencies that she feels are "letting us down" she entrusts with this grave responsibility.
Her faith is strong, I'll give her that.
My family's approach seems reasonable, but there's just no way to know for sure. All of us need timely information to make choices to best protect our children, and parents of young children especially need this information, given that we continue to wait for vaccines. Unfortunately, federal health officials are letting us down — still.
This yearning for authority, to be told what to do, to abdicate your God-given freedoms to make your own decisions is how you end up with religious cults and autocrats.
Covid didn't break people. It exposed them.
These people were already broken, looking for something bigger than themselves.
They're looking in the wrong places.
P.S. Now check out our latest video: "Highlights from Biden's speech last night" 👇