Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Extremism and Controversy

The internet is always abuzz with some sort of new story that is dividing Facebook and com boxes across the country.

Right now it is the vaccine debate.  There is a measles outbreak in California that has been blamed, depending on who you listen to, on people who do not vaccinate their children, or on "illegal aliens". (It always seems to be the fault of  brown people, doesn't it?)

Stemming from this is a discussion that includes comments about how all vaccines are "perfectly safe" on the one hand, and, on the other hand, how the healthcare system is "just a branch of the government" and vaccines are "not meant to be protective."

The truth is that some people do have a real reaction to some of the components in vaccines.  Some of these people vaccinate anyway and some can't. There are also people whose immune systems are such that they cannot vaccinate.  There are those who belong to religious groups that have a true and long-standing objection to vaccines.

But, as for the rest of us, we should vaccinate for the good of the community. The more people who have no real reason other than fear, choose not to vaccinate, the more these diseases will return.  Do we really want our children paralyzed or dead from polio because we believe a conspiracy theory?

The problem here is that, once again, we are gravitating towards the extreme views because it makes us feel righteous and better than others, As Christians, we should guard zealously against that attitude.  This form of fundamentalism is what drives away as many people as it attracts. An attitude of humility is what is needed.

Apparently, this attitude of fear-mongering extremism is not new. The cartoon shown is from a Depression-era cartoonist.  This answers my oft-asked question as to whether things are really worse today, or whether it is just the internet that helps spread these extreme views. It seems to be the latter.

This is why critical thinking and media analysis (I took a course in high school with that title) should be taught early and often to our children. They need to be aware of what they face in this world.  They need to know how to judge whether an opinion they hear or read is most likely to be true or false. They need to know how to research and to discern what sources are reliable.

With the dawn of the internet, misinformation spreads instantaneously, and, with a society that moves as fast as ours does today, it is so much easier to just believe the first (or last) thing we've read, but it is VITAL that we not do this--for the good of our children and the good of society.

No comments:

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

my poetry on the web

Karumi Garden

Karumi Garden
my haiku