I’ve been told to always take the high road. Live and let live. Don’t get angry. Don’t point fingers. When they go low, we go high. This advice has served me well in most situations. But there is a point where the high road ends.
I’ve tried to be understanding to those who oppose vaccines and masking. But we had a COVID scare at our house this week. My 8-year-old granddaughter woke up one morning with a high fever. Our first reaction was to assume the worst. We called her pediatrician and scheduled her for a COVID test. As the day went on, she showed indications of a garden-variety infection and not COVID. We did the test anyway, and she turned out negative. She felt better the next day, and she’s back to her cheery, energetic self. But as we were dealing with her illness that morning, I became filled with a boiling rage. What if she had COVID? What if she became sick because of those who refused to vaccinate and wear masks? What if she got critically ill or died because someone didn’t want to be inconvenienced or got brainwashed by misinformation?
Then I would hear about the horrible things anti-vax/anti-mask people have done. Like the anti-mask parents at a school board meeting who laughed at a student talking about his grandmother’s death from COVID. And they were doing it while holding signs saying, “Let our kids smile.” Or politicians who compare mask and vaccine mandates to segregation or the Holocaust. Excuse me? Why do those who probably hate Black and Jewish people want to compare themselves to them? How can anyone look at putting on a piece of cloth or getting a couple shots of a safe, FDA-approved vaccine based on decades of research and call it persecution?
Behavior like this isn’t about questioning science or policy. It’s about one of two things. The first is greed, such as politicians discouraging vaccines in favor of treatments their donors have investments in. (Whatever happened to “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”?) The second is selfishness. People who believe they’re the center of the universe, and everyone else must cater to them. They are convinced of their moral superiority and see any request to show consideration to others as oppression. They don’t want to have to care about anyone but themselves. They want to do whatever they please without consequence. And they must be right even if it kills them. Both things are horrible, and the combination is even worse.
This is where the high road ends. This is where “live and let live” no longer works. If people willfully endanger others, they need to be called out. It’s the same situation I faced with that bully back in high school. You need to take a stand. That stand can be trying to de-escalate a situation where someone gets verbally assaulted. There are a number of ways to do this safely. Or that stand could mean walking away from people who expound hateful views. Or letting companies know when their employees abuse their position and endanger patients by spreading disinformation.
Taking the high road doesn’t mean taking whatever abuse people throw our way. We don’t have to tolerate cruelty and greed. And we certainly don’t have to accept when someone’s selfishness threatens the health of the people we love.
Taking the high road does mean doing whatever is necessary to help others and get our community back to normal. Get the vaccine if you’re able, wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, follow safety rules, and stop being an entitled ass. Let’s all get back on the high road together.