as increasingly parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children according to the CDC’s recommendations, i have heard more and more complaints by others–some parents themselves, some not. the chief complaint being that not vaccinating one child puts other children at risk. it puts adults at risk. some of these individuals go so far as to say parents should be forced to fully vaccinate their children or face additional fines/punishments.
while i may not agree with that sentiment, i think the conversation is healthy. i just hope it is extended to other parts of society. such as education. when we remove our children from public schools and place them in exclusive, prestigious, incredibly expensive private schools are we not only thinking of our own child? is the child who does not get the boost private education can provide now at increased risk? do these decisions not affect society as it undermines the public school system?
herd immunity is an important concept and does not only relate to infectious diseases.
i recently had a conversation with a few men about food stamps and other welfare programs. the last statement of the conversation went something like: “i could add more but i’m not going to. as a single male with no dependents i get raped by the government.” we’ll ignore the disrespectfulness of comparing rape to him paying his taxes, although it certainly fits a pattern of male ignorance i experience.
but i think the statement is very telling. congress by far is a male majority. men are less likely to end up as single parents. men are paid more on the dollar than their female counterparts. men do not get pregnant. men make up larger percentages of the top of the workforce. men care for elderly parents less often than their sisters. it is easy to see why a young man would be less interested in paying taxes if he perceives large amounts of them to be going to caring for the basic needs of others–there’s seemingly nothing in it for him now and never will be.
the burden of caregiving is often on women. perhaps this is why congress doesn’t give a shit if children are going hungry–>weakened immune system–>sick more often–>more school days missed–>reduced chance of graduating–>job options severely limited–>minimum wage–>cycle of poverty continued. we need to encourage our girls to care about politics so that we are represented well. this is not to say that all women share the same perspective but to say that as women we all possess a unique perspective many men will never understand. it is crucial this perspective exists in places of power.
**and on a side note, we should be teaching our boys the importance of caring for others. my son was born on medicaid and food assistance. it is this type of infrastructure that helped create a healthy foundation upon which he can become successful. if i never tell him, he could be totally unaware as an adult and make ignorant statements about paying for other people to be lazy.
A new study in Pediatrics shows a link between price fluctuations in fresh produce and increases in BMIs of children living at <300% of the poverty line. As expected, with even small increases in the price of produce small increases in BMI were also seen. Higher soda prices were associated with lower BMIs. As a parent who falls within that category, our family has had many conversations about food prices and strategized on how we can afford the healthiest foods while still paying our bills.
While the findings aren’t surprising, it is important and should be considered at the policy level and when we vote and interact with politicians. Farm subsidies should be evaluated not only at an economic level, but also at a public health level. The Navajo Nation should be watched as they have begun implementing a tax on junk food coupled with the elimination of taxes on produce, seeds, water, and nuts. We all act according to incentives so it makes sense that incentivizing fresh food purchases and de-incentivizing others would maintain consumer choice while reducing barriers to health.
i am lucky to live with a wise soul who works for an organization that promotes values such as inclusivity. their focus on this value has resulted in conversations about it in our house and more intentional use of it in his approach to conflict management. he already regularly impresses me with his ability to patiently motivate individuals who are odds to want to come together. ninja. a recent example in which he reminded two parties that they could approach each other with the end goal of winning or the end goal of unity but not both has kept me thinking.
a reform conservative speaking on NPR during my drive home brought up the perspective that the inability of politicians in Washington to come together is a direct result of the culture wars in which our polarized society is digging in its heels in the name of values. we cannot blame them without blaming ourselves for focusing on values without strategy.
i can see that within myself…stay with me: i am fully convinced that there situations in which abortion is a medical necessity for the health of the mother. additionally, i am fully convinced that legal abortion is necessary for a compassionate society. thirdly, i am fully convinced that the involvement of politicians in regulating medical decisions should be at a minimum. finally, i am fully convinced that there are times when abortion is the most compassionate, ethical decision that can be made for a fetus/baby. as a side note, i don’t like abortion and am very much in favor of proven steps to limit the need for abortion such as providing access to contraceptives and educating women.
abortion is one of the most polarizing issues in our country and it is a perfect opportunity for all of us to practice valuing inclusivity instead of winning. i don’t think abortions should be limited to the first or even second trimesters. i even cringe at the very idea of making late-term abortions illegal because i know there would be women who really need it that would be in an even more difficult situation than they already face. giving in would in some ways feel like i was tossing them to the gutter. or even that i was acting against my own self-interest because that woman could be me someday.
but after reflecting today, i think there could be a scenario in which I accepted some limitation in the legality of abortion if it allowed for greater unity among our people, greater inclusion of other perspectives, and perhaps supported women and children in another way such as those previously mentioned. this is a personal example, but i think our inability to come together positions us to be used by corporations and politicians to the detriment of ourselves. divide and conquer. there is history precedence for this around the globe. our enemy is not our neighbor who wants to own a shotgun and has been instilled with fear that this right might soon be lost and armageddon ensue. only when we realize that can we unite together and face those selling that fear and making money off of death. if we allow ourselves to lose sight of this we allow ourselves to be pawns in someone else’s chess game.
i’m lucky to have an insightful husband who continually challenges me to think deeper and connect more. we’re all lucky we have the paths of warriors like MLK in which we can follow.
“There are certain things we can say about this method that seeks justice without violence. It does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding. I think that this is one of the points, one of the basic points, one of the basic distinguishing points between violence and nonviolence. The ultimate end of violence is to defeat the opponent. The ultimate end of nonviolence is to win the friendship of the opponent. It is necessary to boycott sometimes but the nonviolent resister realized that boycott is never an end within itself, but merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor; that the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption. And so the aftermath of violence is bitterness; the aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community; the aftermath of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. This is a method that seeks to transform and to redeem, and win the friendship of the opponent, and make it possible for men to live together as brothers in a community, and not continually live with bitterness and friction.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
targeted advertising is the prize of the internet for corporations. it can not be coincidental that some of the mcat websites i visit are now filled with “adderall alternative” drug offers. there is a cost to the high stress, increasingly competitive nature of the premed world–one that is bound to affect the nature of healthcare in the future.
reflecting on my time in haiti brings up many conflicting thoughts; however, i am always only proud that i was able to train and transition my management position to a haitian coworker. there are plenty, PLENTY of foreign workers with skills they are ready to offer in the form of labor. there are much fewer who are willing to invest in training and the subsequent shift to national leadership. this not only takes jobs from haitians, it perpetuates a modern form of colonialism.
in fact, many volunteers i worked with pontificated about the laziness of the american poor in comparison to haitian poor. they were often impressed by just how hard working community members were that showed up to help complete a construction project, etc. i frequently heard a surprised reaction when foreigners arrived to find the streets of Port-au-Prince filled with activity, as opposed to the lethargic depression they anticipated. time and time again volunteers who place a high value on “a hard days work” came, worked, and left.
they left behind something, to be sure. however, they did little to provide opportunities for sustained work in the community. i was able to spend time with several organizations and it was my experience that the majority were focused on providing things: wells, schools, churches, gardens, trees, animals, homes. it is not that these are not desperately needed but that this vision is so short-term and so imperialistic.
it is not surprising when you see how americans spend money within its own borders. early education? hope you can afford it. primary-secondary school? hope you live in a good zip code. higher education? hope you’re comfortable with debt. and of course, if you were not born into a situation that provided a quality foundation for the first 18-22 years of your life, we will deny that it is anyone’s fault but your own and usher you into prisons, shame you for being on welfare, and otherwise strip you of dignity and freedom of choice in such basics as housing, healthcare, and food.
but back to haiti. there are many training programs. some are engaging the diaspora. some are providing scholarships for education. some are training healthcare professionals. it is not enough to feel good about our “service.” there is a very twisted underbelly to the disaster tourism industry. not too long ago missionaries came to “civilize” the natives in this country. it is worth taking the time to consider the parallels.
“Can she hold your baby? She’s in love with babies,” says a 30-ish guy as he points with his pool stick to a younger woman, clearly his date for the evening.
We will ignore the obvious: never walk up to a stranger and ask if you or your friend can hold their child.
“He doesn’t really like to go to strangers,” I answer in attempt to remain friendly but offer no indication that my 18-month-old is a toy to be passed around. Q was happy to stay with me and to watch the girl in the sparkly dress.
“Oh, he’s not gay. Nope, not gay at all,” says the gentleman steadily increasing his status on the douche-o-meter. I must not have look entertained by his comment.
“I mean, not that that’s wrong or anything…”
“Then why would you put it like that?” I questioned, doing my best to keep a pleasant tone.
“Touché.” He starts to back away, his date had already wandered back to the pool table.
“It’s just a harder life,” he says as he turns around.
“It’s a harder life because of people like you!” I respond and turn back to our dart game.
My son is not even 2 years old and already people are making comments about his sexual preference—he has no sexual preference—HE IS TWO! He is not “all boy” when he plays with trucks unless that means he is “all girl” when he plays with jewelry. Why do we attach gender to colors? to all sorts of inanimate objects that clearly have no gender of their own aside from that which we assign. Why does he sound “like a girl” when he cries? What do all of these things say about our variable preference for one gender over the other? for one sexual orientation over all the others?
There are plenty of traits I want my son to possess but I’m not sure of any that are only for boys. If we truly want equality, we have to question our very word choices. We have to question every aspect of our life and the effect certain actions have to either reinforce stereotypes or promote equality. We cannot stay silent. My son needs you to know why you are so uncomfortable with certain sexual preferences because whether you know it or not, your words and actions are telling him that it is not ok to love a certain way. My son needs you to know why you place certain “male” characteristics as more valuable because your words and actions are subtly reminding him that those who possess specific traits are superior to others.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. –Nelson Mandela