Saturday, January 16, 2021

Us Versus Them

I got the COVID vaccine.

I spoke with doctors, priests, mentors, family and friends before doing so.  I weighed the risks.  I prayed for direction.  In the end, I got the vaccine.  I just finished my second round this week.

I've told few people.

And, now I feel as if I'm hiding something.  So, I no longer am.  I'm vaccinated.

But this post is about more than that.  It's about the implications that I am, or anyone else is, less for doing so.  Less pro-life.  Less Christian.  Less patriot.  Less (fill in the blank).

Which somehow also trickles down to being "less" because of the particular form of Mass we participate in.  Less because of the inclination to trust those in authority or with expertise on the matter at hand.  Less because of those we tend toward as mentors in spiritual formation.  Less because of our political inclinations.  Less because of the way we raise our children.  Less because of (you name any difference we have with those around us).

It has become us versus them.

I don't know when it happened.  I'm sure, as with most things, it happened slowly like the proverbial frog in the water.  But now it seems that there is no middle ground.  There is only the I'm-right-and-you're-wrong mentality.  And, what I've found that leads to is the sad state of complacency and exercising an opinion without the necessary empathy and interest to understand the reducing a person (or group of people) to a choice they make rather than seeking to understand the experiences that brought them to the choice.

Some may say it's the road to moral relativism, but's it's nothing of the sort.  Natural law is natural law.  Moral law is moral law.  There is right and there is wrong.  But, not everything is as clear as one imagines.  And, attaching one person's choice to a slew of "if this, then that" statements that eventually demonize said individual does nothing for the mission to love while calling each other to and leading each other closer to the ultimate Good.

Why do I feel like I'm hiding something by keeping my decision to get vaccinated close?  Because I know it will bother some.  I know it will immediately get thrown into a category of morally compromised decisions according to others.

Yet, I am a mother of eight, with a seriously compromised immune system, and I want to be as healthy as I can to care for those children who have been given to me for a time.  I'm a wife to one, and while he cares for me during the darkest moments of this disease, I don't want to add another possibly preventable health concern to his plate.  I'm a daughter of two whose world has been rocked by a diagnosis they would take from me in a heartbeat, and since I cannot change that, I'm doing all in my power to prevent another diagnosis.  I'm a friend to many whose current health cannot carry this virus, and while only God decides on our beginnings and endings, out of love, I want to do my part to protect those around me.

Am I making this decision out of a disregard for human life?  Absolutely not.  Will some think I am?  Of course they will.  I encourage those to read this when they do.  And when the question of my strength of faith arises, I'd suggest this.

Did I wrestle with this decision?  Yes.  Why?  Because I want to do the right thing.  And, I want to know why, but I haven't made the time until recently to do the research I know I needed to do.  Now, I have asked the questions.  I have prayed for guidance.  I have moved forward with a decision.

And while this virus, and subsequent vaccination, is a heavy, important topic...much more important is the state of our souls and the extent to which we love...those who make different choices, those whose viewpoints we have a difficult time understanding, those who oftentimes are the most difficult to love.  Those who we've termed "them" in the war against "us".

For in seeking to listen, if not truly understand, we grow closer to a point of realizing with all of our faults, mistakes and sins, we are still in this together.  We are all coming from different joys, pains, and crosses that shape the way we see things.  We are hoping to get to the same end.  And, while I don't believe that "the end justifies the means" I do believe that there is more than one way to get to a beautiful, truthful end...and in no way is that by demonizing one another.

Instead it's by showing truth through goodness, beauty, and ultimately love.

God forgive me when that hasn't been my means. 

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