There’s a lot of discourse circling around. Stuff like, “Get the vaccine. It will save your life. Here are the statistics. Here are the stories.”
This discourse is important. This discourse is necessary. Appealing to someone’s self-interest is the quickest, fastest way to get someone to do the thing that’s best for them to do.
But need I remind that values are important too? I fear that too few people are talking about the fundamental reason why so many of these self-interest conversations are necessary in the first place.
Look, it’s true — on a deep, deep spiritual level — that in the end, we have only ourselves. I am certainly of the mind that individuals have divine, sovereign rights. I’ll even go so far as to say — controversial as this may be, especially as a self-proclaimed Leftist — that the expression of Western ontology in individual sovereignty is, like, totally amazing, profound, and a revolutionary historical achievement. But even within Western ontology, the development of the divine individual is to be in service of others, the broader community, the highest meta-values, etc. To me, this pandemic and so-much-of-the-United-States’ vaccine hesitancy are a deep expression of a breakdown of the fundamental ontology of Western democracy. Honest conservatives should be terrified.
Because it’s not just the unvaccinated that are at risk here. This is a collective problem that requires a collective solution. What we are living through right now is a perfect confrontation of the deepest metaphysical questions of what it means to be human.
Here’s something I haven’t yet seen anyone outside the medical community express: there is a greater than 0% chance that if we don’t get a super-majority of the world vaccinated, something even more viral, even more deadly than the delta variant will mutate and spread, killing ever more millions and millions of people. This is a collective risk that exists because humans exist in a collective society.
Why haven’t more people been pointing this out? Even, it’s almost as if this discourse around the collective nature of our reality is so absent that speaking it can feel futile.
But if it is futile, then it is a necessary futility — again because the problem is so, so much deeper than the pandemic. This is about what we choose to be as human beings — either as bearers of collective responsibility, or as atomized nihilists created only to become the next evolutionary abortion.
The miracle of what being human is: we get to choose. If we take a Kierkegaardian leap of faith that, yes, life matters and that, yes, we bear a moral, biological, and spiritual responsibly to one another, in speaking such and acting that out, it becomes manifestly true. We become it in Being.
This is what it means to be human. This is what it means to be aligned with Meaning. We are individuals bound together in service to a greater collective.