Moderating Influences

Believe it or not, I am less-likely to get riled up about things these days I might have in former years. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not things that make me frustrated and extremely angry, because I feel very strongly that I am right and that if you disagree with me, you are either devoid of a greater sense of humanity or the public good. Now the list of things that I feel this way about is increasingly more limited as the years go by, but that just means that the passion is intensified for the remaining topics. It just so happens that in the past few days, a few of these big issues have been in the news. So, my usual desire to avoid confrontation and steer conversations away from controversial topics has been subverted. I need to be someone that just lets it go, but whenever I do that, the words of William Butler Yeats come dancing back into my head:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

That is my fear about always trying to be the polite person that avoids controversy. I am afraid that bad information will be disseminated, ill-informed people will believe that they are unconditionally right, and that I will be one of those people that didn’t do or say anything.

So that is why when I still hear people today saying “Drill, baby, drill”, and that their greatest fears about the Gulf oil spill is that this will stop future offshore drilling, I get really upset.

The second issue of recent attention is my sincere belief, and the significant support that comes from the scientific literature, about the need to vaccinate our children. I think everyone should watch the Frontline PBS documentary from this week. There are a number of troubling parts to the vaccine debate that I see – a lack of concern for what is a “public good” anymore, the idea of consumer-driven medicine instead of expert and scientific driven medicine, and the fact that the war against vaccines is another form of the war on science. The Internet has been good for many things, but the fact that average citizens feel empowered to question the expertise of doctors and scientists based on bad information that is proliferated on the web is one thing that makes me very very sad. For the life of me, I don’t know why the CDC would intentionally harm children, but yet there are plenty of nutcases out there who think that is exactly the case. Many of these nutcases are upper middle class white people who think that they know more than experts, but probably have never attempted to read a serious scientific journal article. I believe that their presumed “knowledge” is really just based on an underlying selfishness, because they have this primal fear of their kid being the autistic one. Thus, they justify a lack of compassion and concern for others in their community, vulnerable populations like newborn children or others with auto-immune diseases who cannot be vaccinated and who rely on herd immunity for protection, with good old fashioned selfishness, cleverly masqueraded as “parental choice.”
And that is all I am going to say about that, for the time being.
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