Anyone who is hesitant about (or against) being vaccinated for COVID-19 should pause and read the current news headlines about the COVID-19 crisis in India:
President Biden Restricts Travel from India Due to COVID-19 Surge (NYT)
India’s Covid vaccine shortage: The desperate wait gets longer (BBC)
India’s daily COVID-19 cases pass 400,000 for the first time (reuters)
The Covid-19 crisis in India is a problem for the whole world (CNN)
The nation of India is comprised of hundreds of states, 300+ different languages and dialects, multiple religions, and a 2020 population count of 1,380,004,381.
And it is locked in a losing battle with COVID-19 and its mutated cousins, losing tens of thousands of people by the day—yes— BY THE DAY!
According to the John Hopkins University (JHU) COVID-19 Portal [https://systems.jhu.edu/research/public-health/ncov/ ] as of April 30, 2021, the exact number people who died in one day from COVID reached 400,000, as the country grappled with an inadequate supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Unlike the United States, regardless of their religious beliefs, the citizens of India want to be vaccinated...period.
For the people of this populous country, being inoculated is not a question of “free choice” or “individual rights,” as anti-vaccine activists have articulated here in the United States.
Rather, the decision India’s citizens are making is rooted in their commitment to protect the common good—the greater good—understanding that the needs of the many should outweigh the one individual—in this instance.
The United States has not gotten that “collective good” memo yet. We are stuck in what anthropologist, Robert Bellah (Ed) called “radical individualism” in the 1985 book, Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in America Life.
This is largely due to the still powerful ideological (and irrational) influence of the former 45th President who demonstrated in his leadership performance a glaring egocentrism and focus on his personal needs and desires over the collective needs of U.S. citizens.
His message, which unfortunately, still resonates, is that individual rights trump the collective good (pun intended).
The result in the American cultural landscape during a pandemic has been an epidemic of flagrant disregard for masking in public, a growing population of people unwilling to be vaccinated, spreader events that have killed people who attended as well as innocents with whom they came in contact. Tragic!
In India, despite the intervention of national government support to vaccinate the entire country—which some say came too late—the harsh reality is that India’s supply of vaccine serum—despite being internally produced—cannot keep up with demand.
So, people are dying by the tens of thousands.
The chimneys of crematories are melting from the overload of burning dead bodies. India is in a COVID tsunami of unparalleled proportions.
And, and if there are any lessons to be learned from spread of Ebola to the U.S, the return of measles in schools and colleges, the devastating early days of COVID-19, and the current COVID crisis in India, it is this:
Viruses are equal opportunity global spreaders! They respect NO borders or boundaries, leave no social class untouched, ignore racial, educational, and any other differences, are adaptable and can change/mutate without notice, leaving ALL of us vulnerable.
What happens in India today is setting the stage for what can happen globally tomorrow.
If all of what I stated above is true, then vaccinations are our only hope, our medical Obi-Wan Kenobi, our warrior princess, our superhero/heroine of every persuasion, our protection against a COVID-19 global scourge that is already at our front door, and has entered the hallway—an uninvited guest that refuses to leave.
In case you are not getting my message, this is it in a phrase: Not getting vaccinated is just plain S-T-U-P-I-D!
Walking around in this country unvaccinated is making a Russian roulette choice between getting protection against a virus that we know is devastating or facing the real possibility of either death—from which there is NO return—or the debilitating post-COVID recovery that many people experience after contracting the virus.
These are not odds to bet your life on.
Further, not getting vaccinated places every unvaccinated person at risk—babies, children, young adults, and also the elderly.
Anyone who chooses not to get vaccinated carries the fate of not only their family, neighborhood, community, county, state, and the nation in their individual decision, but they also carry the fate of the world.
Who wants to carry that kind of weight on their shoulders—the fate of humankind?
So, man up/woman up/child up/queer up/ trans up—
© 2021 Irma McClaurin; All Rights Reserved
Irma McClaurin, PhD/MFA (http://irmamcclaurin.com/) is the Culture and Education Editor for Insight News and was named2015 “Best in the Nation Columnist” by the Black Press of America. She is a diversity consultant, activist anthropologist, award-winning poet, leadership coach, and has held past leadership positions as president of Shaw University, Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, and former University of Minnesota Associate VP and founding executive director of UROC. She is the founder of the “Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and will soon release a collection of her writing: JUSTSPEAK: Reflections on Race, Culture, and Politics in America. Contact: http://firstname.lastname@example.org / https://twitter.com/mcclaurintweets.