It’s a strange world where being guarded all the time and hiding your feelings with sarcasm makes you popular, while earnestly stating how you feel can get you branded as phony, or a troll, or a target. I’m not responding to any particular incident here, just reflecting on the way public discourse seems to work these days. I’ve never harbored the illusion that humans are perfect, but I never expected to live into a time when there would be a return to open, violent bigotry, of the kind that I was brought up believing had been eradicated. Rather like measles. Which, of course, has also made a comeback as of late, because of people who stopped supporting vaccinations against once virulent diseases. That makes me wonder, what if there were an inoculation against bigotry? What if one already exists?
Let’s imagine that it does… (cue wiggly lines, eerie music)
The vaccine works by creating resistance to a virus known as ignorance which causes the disease bigotry. This virus is easily spread by close contact with other infected souls, but dies off quickly when exposed to books, travel, and spending time getting to know people of different backgrounds. While it is true that a high quality dose of this vaccine, called education, can be very expensive, there are programs that will help subsidize those costs. Free inoculations are also available at special centers called schools and libraries, which raise living standards and save lives where they are free and open to the public.
Some people are opposed to these vaccinations, believing that the education shot is directly linked to Socialism or even Communism. An erroneous report based on a faulty study conducted by the White House in the 1950’s is to blame for this popular, but mistaken belief. Nevertheless, celebrities who oppose the vaccine, using their platforms of incendiary talk shows and congressional hearings, have unfortunately resulted in a recent spike in individual cases of ignorance. The disease, while not always deadly, can cause intense discomfort when the patient is confronted with new or different ideas. However, certain populations, including the very fearful, blind haters, and the overly entitled, are at increased risk of life-threatening symptoms, although the lives that are threatened aren’t typically their own.
The anti-ignorance vaccine, which requires periodic boosters for best results, is most effective when first administered at an early age, but it also helps older first-time patients build resistance to many forms of disease that bigotry may take; racism, sexism, classism, and ableism being among the most virulent.
People who live in oppressive, poverty stricken countries will frequently travel long distances, at great personal risk, to obtain their shot of education, having seen firsthand the deadly consequences of ignorance. In America, however, many people take education for granted, having forgotten what life was like a century ago, before free, mandatory education eradicated ignorance in large swathes of the population. Recently, there has been a growing movement to reduce funding to schools and censor textbooks, thus reducing herd immunity, creating a perfect environment for ignorance to spread and bigotry to flourish.
Let’s put an end to the spread of bigotry. Don’t hate, vaccinate!