Because, yes, it’s still a choice, contrary to (some) popular belief.
This will not be a biological science lecture, even though I’m perfectly capable of giving one. I studied the broad subject for four years at Purdue University and was required to take cellular biology to earn my degree, a course taught by an experienced research virologist who knew the subject very well. I know how vaccines operate. I know how the data is collected.
Even without that background, I would have still chosen to receive the vaccine. Why?
It would be an absolutely vile spit in the faces of my ancestors if I didn’t.
My ancestors have suffered through wars, through famine, through uncertainty, and through both epidemics and pandemics.
I have lost ancestors through sickness and disease through no fault of their own. Nothing they had at the time was strong enough to combat it outright, and much of the time, no medicine was strong enough to truly bring ease to their suffering. For those who fell ill, yet survived, they still emerged with scars – physically and emotionally. Their hearts broke for the losses in our family and community. My family who survived kept pushing on towards the future, with the ultimate hope that as we advanced, we would never have to endure such terrible things again. That there would be a way, a medicine that could protect their children and their children’s children.
My paternal grandfather was stricken with polio in his childhood, before the vaccine was widely available. He came close to death several times before he pulled through. He has dealt with the physical aftermath for the rest of his life. If he had not pulled through – I would not be here.
I can’t express to you how heavily this presses upon me at times.
My ancestors who survived long enough to pass their DNA on, eventually to create me, have gone through hell to do so. They pressed on, through it all, so I could be here today.
I can’t bear to imagine what they would say or how they would feel if I told them that I refused to acknowledge the ways they suffered. The depth of what they went through when there was truly nothing that could have been done. To jeopardize how far we’ve come. Now, I’m in a place where I can preserve all the work they did with two simple pokes in the arm.
My wonderful partner and husband, who I’ve been with for going on 10 years, had a severe case of bronchitis and pneumonia when he was very young, which permanently damaged and scarred his lungs, leaving him with breathing issues ever since. Any time he gets ill, it usually requires a trip to the emergency room for oxygen treatments. As soon as we started to get clearer information about how this virus presented and affected physically, I was very concerned about his chances of survival should he become infected. I worked to protect him in the beginning – sanitizing surfaces, making sure we had masks in crowded areas, limiting my own time out and about so I didn’t bring anything home with me. Did that mean I needed to make some sacrifices on my end in an effort to keep him safe? Of course. Was I ever mad about it? Absolutely not. Wearing a mask for the 20 minutes I was in the store every few days was an extremely small price to pay to increase his safety.
I love my grandparents dearly. My grandfather has a host of chronic issues that stem from decades of smoking, and his breathing problems are evident on the day to day. My grandmother, at 73 years old, still works part-time in a hospital in her radiology position. When she asked me to wear a mask or keep my distance when I came over, I understood completely, and agreed. Yes, I wanted to hug my grandparents. One hug isn’t worth two funerals. I’m aware that death is inevitable. But causing it to come sooner for such a trivial, preventable reason is unnecessary.
The work I do in this life is really important to me. The powerful healing work I am doing for my lineage would not be possible without my ancestors – I will protect myself to continue to do this healing work for them – they more than deserve it. The work I do for others to aid them on their healing journeys means the world to me – I will not carelessly throw another potentially dangerous roadblock onto their path. And above absolutely everything else, if I dare to claim even a fraction of the title of ‘healer,’ I must hold myself to the ultimate standard – do no harm.
Everyone is a ‘healer’ these days. But I wonder if they knew the true realities of the role, they would still claim the title.
To be a healer is to be selfless. It is to be of service to your community, your collective.
Even if I don’t become ill, even if I believe that I don’t need the vaccine – I can still carry the virus and pass it onto someone else who cannot receive the vaccine (children and those with compromised immune systems).
How dare I claim to be a healer if I were to throw all caution to the wind and say, “Well, it’s no concern of mine if you catch the virus, even if it did come from me. I don’t care if you’re a child. I don’t care if you’re elderly. I don’t care if you have a compromised immune system due to no fault of your own.”
How dare I pick and choose who is worthy of continuing to be here, in this plane of existence, for nothing more than to upkeep my ego’s illusion of personal strength without external aid?
In the circle of people I know, there is a person who refers to themself as a practitioner, or another name for a healer. In a conversation, a name came up – a mutual friend who is battling cancer.
“You know, they could just heal themself if they really wanted to. They don’t have to go through all that – they choose to.“
There is still a tightness in my chest when I recount this story. I still feel the shockwaves of disbelief – the audacity of the statement, mired in selfish ego, coming from someone who claims to be a practitioner in the healing sphere.
Our chronic issues and diseases can come from our own energetic wounds. That’s true. They can also come from ancestral trauma – carried up and over thousands of years. But to so flippantly disregard the suffering, the trauma, and the depths of these wounds by claiming it’s so ‘easy’ to heal yourself from it is…horrifying.
This is the same ideology that comes into play regarding vaccines, I feel, in this particular community.
Where has our collective compassion gone?
Maybe it’s my Pisces Moon (read: probably), but it’s difficult for me to watch others suffer, even if it was through their own doing. In my sessions, people come to me all the time and lay it all out in a confessional: I’m the worst person in the world. I fucked up. I did ____, and I hurt someone else. Or, I’ve been like _____ for a long time and have been hurting myself.
Too much of the time, in this world, we say, “Well, you deserve to be in pain, then. You deserve the chronic condition that comes with it. You can heal it, you just don’t want to.”
People want to heal. They really do. Maybe they don’t know how. Maybe they don’t know they need to. Maybe they have thousands of years worth of inherited trauma, and 100% healing simply won’t occur in this lifetime. When you see them suffering and assume that they don’t want to heal…let me ask you why you carry that assumption, and challenge you to see where you need to heal.
Maybe I’m strong (healed) enough to function perfectly well without the vaccine. Maybe I should just go along with the belief that it’s every person for themself. Maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about the people around me, those who I know and those who I don’t.
Simply put, it’s just not in me to do any of that. I care. Maybe I care too much. I look around me and my eyes well up when I see what’s happening in overcrowded children’s COVID wards. My heart hurts when I read the stories of people who have lost loved ones to this illness – unable to see them, touch them, say goodbye to them. Knowing they couldn’t breathe or be comfortable in their final hours. I refuse to be part of the mass delusion that unless this is happening to you, then it isn’t real. This world is already hard enough. Cruel enough.
I chose to be vaccinated because I am, at the same time, the most, and not the most important person in the world. I am protecting myself – my ancestors’ work; my labor of love that is healing my ancestors, which requires me to be alive and kicking; the personal work that I clearly need to be alive in this world to accomplish; if I ever decide to bring another life into this world, they will share my protection – and I am also protecting others – because I am no more important than they are, regardless of who they are, how old they are, what they believe, what their societal status is, what color their skin is. By being vaccinated, I am also indirectly protecting those who chose not to be – I am one less person who can possibly infect them. I am giving them more time to heal whatever they need to heal to see the world through a clearer lens.
Though things seem to be moving in the opposite direction even more every day, I still hold out hope that one day we can move away from the heavy-handed, patriarchal-tinged culture that prizes the personal ego over all else. To be part of a community, a collective, there must be a sense of brother/sister/otherhood. We need each other far more than we know. The world would be a lonely place if we were truly all on our own.