It's been awhile. I had a baby. Now, I'm writing about how the world has changed since I was an 80s baby, but how we can tweak a few things....
bI remember in the 80s when my parents had parties. They were all in their 30s and they’d drink and play cards. I used to sit at the top of the stairs and listen to them yell and laugh and drink and tell stories. And later, I’d watch as the men would drive home with their wives. A couple of them would have had too much to drink. But it was the 80s. No one took a cab. MADD hadn’t yet come on the scene with their ads. We all know this is how it was. It’s why we are changing things now. Now, we say, “My god, we could have killed someone.” Now, we say, “Take their keys.” Now we say, “You can’t drink and drive.” We don’t let them say, “My body. My Choice.”
And now, when I talk with my smart mom, we say, “Weren’t they stupid? Weren’t they dangerous? Those boomers and their drinks and their cars?” Now, we know and we speak and we lambast their stubbornness.
That was the 80s. That was my parent’s basement. That was my house. My parent’s friends. My childhood. That was our world. It was ok to politely admonish the dangerous choices of others, but not to speak out.
Now, I watch my baby as he navigates his new world, completely unaware that people around him choose to believe in coincidence, and pseudoscience, and woo woo. I am quiet. Sometimes. I sit at the top of the stairs as those same boomers say, “My body. My Choice.” And I get angry. I think, “How can you still choose to do something so dangerous. How can you let our babies fall to preventable disease?” I read speculative fiction and I think about a world where MADD, finally successful in their mission, has moved on to vaccines. Because I am MAD.
And I look ahead when my daughter is my age and she says, ”Mom, why didn’t you take their keys? Why didn’t you take their choice? Why didn’t you make them learn about science and vaccinations?” She’ll say, “Thank goodness we live in a world where it is okay to shame those who say, ‘My body, my choice.’” She’ll say, “Thank goodness it is okay to speak against those who ‘choose’ to endanger all of those around them and not vaccinate.” She’ll say, “Weren’t they stupid?” She’ll say, “We’ve finally eradicated the preventable diseases.” She’ll say, “You’re welcome.”
Or maybe, she won’t have to. Maybe we can stop thinking about anti-vaxxers as a few randoms who once upon a time listened to Jenny McCarthy and decided to go with pseudoscience over actual medicine. Maybe, we can start to look at the recent, local measles outbreak, and whooping cough cases, and horrific flu and think: If we teach the science and we rid the world of the stupidity, we can prevent these diseases. Maybe we can create a world where preventable diseases are just that: Preventable. It’s not your choice if by choosing not to vaccinate harms others. It’s selfish. There’s education for anti vaxxers and it needs to start somewhere.