This week the number of deaths in the United States due to Covid-19 surpassed 600,000. The worldwide death toll is now estimated to be 3.84 million. As the number of cases has significantly dropped in the U.S., in direct correlation to the availability and distribution of vaccines, it’s easy to move past these numbers and this news. We have become somewhat numb to all the numbers, the data overload of cases, tests administered, vaccinations given, and (sadly) deaths. This is especially true if your life has not been directly impacted by Covid-19. Perhaps you had a mild case, don’t know anyone who has been seriously ill, or lost their life. Perhaps you’ve bought into the conspiracy theories too frequently boosted by the politics of it all. You may be an anti covider (anti-mask, anti-vaccine). Afterall we each have the “freedoms” to think what we will, right?
Freedom, however, cuts at least two ways when it is immersed in an ethic of Christ following faith. If I am a follower of Jesus, I am not just free to do what I choose – come what may; I am free to act for the good of others – the love of others, as Jesus put it. In other words, I don’t just make decisions and choices based on what is best, easiest, or most comfortable for me; I consider the other as I live my life “freely”. I am free from the tyranny of oppression, but free for the expression of social good. I am free from the dictates of the state when it comes to worship, but free for the safe gathering of the body of Christ in worship. I am free from sin through the blood and love of Jesus, and free to not knowingly sin against others. Freedom is never just understood or expressed in terms of its individual application. Freedom, for those who know it in Jesus, always has the other in mind too.
For over 600,000 of our fellow countrymen and women Covid-19 brought the worst possible outcome – their death. In the confusion of understanding the disease and how it is contracted, persons often unwittingly shared it with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Now, however, we are in a different place. We have a greater understanding of how the disease spreads. We also have (at least in the USA) wide access to mitigating vaccines that have proven very effective in combating the disease. We are free to receive these inoculations. They are even being distributed for free. Our best chance of circumventing another Covid-19 spike and it’s related consequences is directly tied to the good public health practices we have all learned, capped off by becoming vaccinated.
For some, due to complicated health histories, this may not be possible. But for the vast majority of us, it is. Those who are hesitant would do well to speak with their primary care physician and get their questions answered one by one. Then they will be free to make an informed medical and public health decision. Not a political decision. Not a decision driven by fear or bias. A decision made with the best advice of medical science.
Yes, it’s a free choice. There is no mandate. No one can tell you what to do, or make you do it. This is America – at it’s best and it’s worst. But I imagine, many if not most of that 600,000, could they wind the clock backwards, and be given an opportunity to become vaccinated against Covid-19; I imagine many would freely choose to do so.