Daniel & the Assumption of Risk

Vaccination is a big subject these days.  Australia is taking strong moves to penalize anyone who refuses to immunize.  While that’s unfortunate in my opinion, it’s also tied to state benefits in some measure.  If you want the benefits, you get immunized.  Period.  While I think this is harsh, there’s an argument to be made that when you expect the help of the State, you need to abide by the State’s rules.  The tricky part is at what level do you draw that line?  If I want a payout from the State, is that enough to demand compliance?  Is the fact that the State is protecting me from foreign invasion enough to demand compliance?  Tricky indeed.

Here in California, the Education Committee for our legislature just passed SB277, which would eliminate the parental right to determine whether or not their child is vaccinated.  The amendment specifies a list of ten specific immunizations which must be received, but also leaves it open to “any other disease deemed appropriate by the department”.   While the State Department of public health should get recommendations from a variety of sources, the bill does not require that the Department utilize those recommendations.

In other words, whatever the State Department of Public Health decides should be a mandatory vaccine, is one.  Period.

I trust that the intentions are good behind this measure.  Who doesn’t like the idea of saving lives and suffering?  There are two questions at play though – whether vaccines really do everything they claim to with none of the side effects or other issues they claim not to have, and then the question of whether the State can force people to do this, and whether the State has the sole determining factor of what vaccines are required.  While media portrayal of vaccinations is almost uniformly positive, there is plenty of suspicion, not to mention fascinating information, that contradict such glowing descriptions.  As I’ve stated before, I’m not opposed to vaccines in principle, but I have grave concerns about how they have proliferated in the past 50 years, and who makes what decisions about who has to have what vaccines.  There’s a whole lot of money at stake here, and that always makes me nervous.

All of this has been brought to the forefront by outbreaks earlier this year.  Outbreaks which, to my knowledge, didn’t result in deaths.  Outbreaks which appear to have subsided with minimal impact.  Yet the fear that these outbreaks provided fuel for is being used now to strip parents of the right to determine what gets put into their child’s body.  It conveys that power not to doctors or professionals (not that this would be any better, frankly), but rather to a governmental department with TOTAL control over what is required and what isn’t.

Anybody who questions vaccinations is routinely portrayed as an idiot.  Pop media has had a field day with this.  However, despite the smear campaign, questions persist, and rightly so I think.  Consider this short remix of a video that was very popular a year or so ago (caution, objectionable language).  But when we insist on crushing discussion and dismissing those who disagree as idiots, nobody is being helped.

Of course, insistence upon a prescribed program is hardly a new thing.  Governments have been forcing people to do various things that are claimed to be good for as long as people have been around.  Sometimes these are good and warranted.  Other times not.  But any time personal liberties are sacrificed for an alleged public good, there are dangerous elements afoot.

For some reason I thought about Daniel this morning.  Daniel was taken prisoner to Babylon, where he is to be prepared for royal service.  Part of such preparations is a prescribed health regimen.  This regimen included access to some of the best foods, foods comparable to what the king himself ate.  The idea being that what is good for the king is good for his advisers, and if the king wants good advisers he should ensure that they have access to the best treatment.  But Daniel disagrees.  As a Jew he is forbidden to eat certain things, and he requests that he be exempt from what is considered the best standard of care in Babylon.  Daniel is putting himself at risk – but he is also putting the man in charge of caring for him at risk.  If Daniel’s preferred regimen leaves him in worse shapes than his peers, the king will be angry with Daniel’s caretaker.  It’s a calculated risk, but one that works out.

There will always be popular opinions about what is best and right and healthy.  Sometimes they may be well-founded and other times not so much.  I hope that people who wish to have their children vaccinated will do so and be grateful for that option, a blessing of the age in which we live.  I just hope that the age in which we live will not be used as the rationale to dismiss debate and discussion and simply require blind conformity.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get what I hope for.

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