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Bob Murley: Give life-saving help to a fellow citizen — Get vaccinated

Bob Murley | Other Voices

My older brother, Bill, claimed to be a libertarian, although I think he was closer to an anarchist. He believed that most of society’s ills were caused by government, and claimed to want no government at all.

As one form of protest, he refused to wear a seat belt, since the state required it. And being a taxi driver in Hawaii, he was taking quite a chance.

Too much of one, as it turned out. One fall day in 1983 he got into a serious accident, one that was nearly fatal and required a four-month hospital stay. He was never the same after that. His motor skills were compromised, he limped slightly, he was unable to play sports. He also became prone to strokes, and died at the age of 74, a premature death in my family.

Apparently Bill was both unconcerned about the possible harm he might bring upon himself and unmindful about the grief he caused our parents, who had to suffer through several weeks of doubt about whether he would live, and several months of concern about what his life would become.

I have to admire him for being so faithful to his beliefs, though. Even after the accident, he refused to wear a seat belt for the rest of his needlessly shortened life. But for resisting the law when the only possible consequence was injury to himself, that I find reckless and asinine.

I didn’t think there were a lot of people like Bill who were so irrational about their political beliefs. Then the other day it occurred to me that there are a great many of them, all around me. In fact the similarity to my brother’s situation is striking.

These people are in proximate danger to their lives and health; the consequence of losing their gamble with fate is harm to themselves and suffering of their loved ones; avoiding the problem is remarkably easy; and their reason for resisting is a perceived affront to personal liberty.

I’m referring, of course, to those who accept the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines but refuse to take them. Their actions carry the same consequence as my brother’s, with one notable addition. The unvaccinated can infect others, who then may fall ill or die. A car accident doesn’t spread like a virus.

I have encountered several cases recently of someone in serious need of emergency care who has not been able to receive it because so many hospital beds are taken by COVID-19 victims, most of whom are unvaccinated.

At this point, accepting vaccination has little to do with political views or personal liberty. Refusing vaccination doesn’t give you any rights you don’t already have. But it is a way of giving possibly life-saving help to a fellow citizen.

Bob Murley lives in Grass Valley.

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