A lack of sacrifice, compassion, is how we got to where we are

A lack of sacrifice, compassion, is how we got to where we are

In Mitch Albom’s book The Five People You Meet in Heaven, he writes, “Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.” A lack of sacrifice can undoubtedly be attributed to the increasing divide in our country when it comes to the pandemic, especially vaccines.

Throughout history, our government has imposed rules and mandates in an attempt to make our lives safer, better, longer.

A few that come to mind are wearing seatbelts while driving on public roadways, having to endure security checkpoints at airports, banning smoking in public places (even outdoors), and I’m sure you can think of many, many others.

At times, all these rules and mandates were met with great public resistance – viewed as inconveniences infringing upon our American rights and the manner in which we conduct our lives.

But eventually, we all came to learn that such rules and mandates are essentially designed to benefit all of society, not harm us.

Today, vaccines are in the spotlight as infringing upon our American rights. Interesting, given that mandatory vaccinations have been around for centuries, successfully doing what they’ve been designed to do – saving lives.

How ironic (and disappointing) that we rarely speak about the hundreds of thousands of lives that the mandatory vaccines of the past have already saved.

Society had strong opposition to the vaccines for polio, smallpox, measles, rubella, and many others – understandable given that the strict regulations we have today weren’t in place many years ago.

But once society witnessed first-hand how the science behind many vaccines actually saved people’s lives, they sacrificed their fear and political beliefs to help protect the health and safety of their fellow citizens.

But today, there is a lack of sacrifice for the good of the whole, which is echoed in a book entitled Voices from the Pandemic – Americans Tell Their Stories of Crisis, Courage, and Resilience.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning author Eli Saslow does a wonderful job of providing first-hand narratives from individuals across the country with contrasting views – painting a clear picture of how the virus has impacted the heart of America. A picture many of us are too caught up in ourselves to see.

An educator had this to say about a lack of sacrifice regarding vaccinations:

“There’s a flaw in our culture in the United States, where somehow the independence and individualist that we celebrate has cost us our ability to sacrifice. It’s “me, me, me.” Unless it’s convenient for us, we don’t really empathize with our fellow citizens and take care of them. There’s no capacity for sacrifice. We’re selfish. I hate to say that, but we are.”

A small-town doctor had this to say about a lack of sacrifice regarding vaccinations:

“My parents got married seventy-six years ago during World War II once they’d finally saved up enough of their sugar rations to bake a proper wedding cake. They loved telling that story. Everybody was sacrificing for that war. It was a national effort. They were proud to be a part of it. They put the importance of the whole before themselves. That was the American way. The country had bigger problems, and their wedding cake could wait.”

Whether it’s airport security or vaccines, mandates are often unpopular by those who lack compassion for the lives of others. Additionally, a lack of sacrifice of our sometimes misguided principles prevents us from understanding and accepting that what is right might not always be popular. However, it’s still the right thing to do.

The small-town doctor above concluded his interview with this:

“How can we get back to that spirit of sacrifice? What happened to us? My hope now that this election is over is maybe we can take a break from tearing each other apart and come together for the common good. Maybe that’s naïve, but I believe in the best parts of this country. It’s either that or give up, right? What other option is there?”

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