I feel like I need to preface this issue saying that I don’t agree with everything that gets published in The Voice Magazine. These articles represent the views of the writers, not of me, and certainly not that of AUSU or AU. But at the same time, The Voice Magazine isn’t my magazine. It’s the magazine of the extended student community of AU. So if something is reasonably well written, and makes a reasonable effort at a fair telling on an issue (which doesn’t mean it’s a balanced telling, life often isn’t balanced, and our stories shouldn’t try to pretend it is when it’s not) then I’m probably going to publish it.
So it is with this week’s The Fit Student. Marie Well looks at the issue of vaccines more from the point of what it can mean for society to demand people take vaccines. She notes her concerns with how certain provinces tie being able to do things like attend school to being vaccinated, and comes down on the side of freedom of choice.
It’s something that made me uncomfortable when I first read it. I don’t like to think of mandatory vaccines as taking away freedom of choice. I’m all for freedom of choice, right? But with in freedom comes responsibility—the responsibility not to use that freedom in a way that would endanger others. This is especially relevant right now. When and if they develop a COVID-19 vaccine, there is a very strong likelihood that they will make the taking of it mandatory for most people, at least for those who don’t have a good medical reason to avoid taking it.
And even though many of us might never experience significant effects if we catch COVID-19, I’ll be among those strongly arguing that such a vaccine be made mandatory, be made our duty to our elders and to the immunocompromised among us – that we all get vaccinated so that they don’t have to suffer the disease. And yes, that will probably mean forcing some people who have fears about vaccination, which is horrible. Even though those fears are almost totally unfounded according to medical science, that doesn’t make forcing people to suffer them any better.
But there’s a bigger picture, and that involves the actual physical safety of some members of society over the preference of others. To me, there’s no contest which way that decision should go. You can endanger yourself all you want, but when our choices start to endanger others, that’s when we cease to have choices.
As a final note, I can’t finish this editorial without mentioning the actions going on surrounding race, police brutality, and the protests and riots that are springing up across the continent and around the world.
I’m seeing the rise again of the Black Lives Matter, and with it, see the rise of some of those who try to claim that All Lives Matter is a better slogan, among them my mother. But I don’t see how anybody can say in good conscience that all lives matter until black lives do. #BlackLivesMatter. Let’s deal with that issue first. It’s well past time.