Guest column: Telling the truth, one person at a time | Opinion
The frustration was evident in my doctor’s voice. “Why don’t people listen and why don’t they protect themselves and their families from the virus? This doctor is not alone. His frustration is shared by countless others whose careers have been dedicated to patient care. These people care deeply and are frustrated that emergency rooms are unnecessarily filled with people, including more and more young people, who have refused or neglected to be vaccinated.
Many of these people are neighbors, co-workers or friends, and when asked, they say they cannot be told what to do; that their freedom is at stake. When asked if they have seen a trusted doctor or other experts, they often answer yes, but make their personal choice to say no to masks and vaccines.
Some say, contrary to overwhelming evidence, that vaccines kill more people than the virus, while others say they are healthy and safe, so it is not necessary. Others have even more sinister theories, like vaccine makers trying to kill people, or that there is a “deep state” out there that cannot be trusted. They say it even though they know that our doctors, hospitals, schools and employers desperately want them to protect themselves and their loved ones. They don’t believe vaccines help. And they die.
This is where we are. We live in a time of increasing disconnection between beliefs and objective truth. Their conviction is that the government should not limit individual freedom. This was, for a time, the same argument some have made against mandatory seat belt laws. Yes, these laws limit freedoms, but they prevent death and injury.
Unfortunately, this mismatch between beliefs and objective truth is not limited to public health. Some believe voter fraud is on the rise.
The data shows that this is simply not true. Election administrators like our own Margetta Hill have one goal: to accurately register voters and correctly count the votes. Party leaders such as Don Truman, Mary Ann Wyatt, Pat Kelly and Pat Tally believed that the more people exercised the right to vote, the better it would be for all of us. There was no conspiracy theory to justify making it harder for voters to vote. And Austin politicians actually admitted that the goal was to have fewer eligible voters.
The reality is that a large portion of the public still believe the former president won the election, despite the objective truth, which is that he lost by over 7 million votes. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former Vice President Mike Pence and former President George W. Bush have all tried to dispel this myth that exists in their party, but it persists even as it erodes our mutual trust.
Another belief is that more guns make us safer. We can debate how best to curb violence, but an objective fact is that we have more weapons now than at any time in our history. Yet it is objectively not true that more guns have reduced gun violence. As we have made it easier and easier to buy and transport weapons, our country has almost doubled its homicide rate, and there is also an increase in accidental shootings.
My doctor wanted to know what could be done to curb the disconnected beliefs from reality. He’s doing his best, one patient at a time. I asked what percentage of his patients were vaccinated and he was over 80%, much more than the 40% of the vaccinated public in our region. It shows that one at a time people can make choices to protect themselves when empowered by the truth. Some of his patients were unaware that they can still pass the virus on after having it, and may even have the virus twice. Some did not know that immunity from vaccines lasts longer than immunity after suffering the virus.
It’s easy to get frustrated when good, honest people say and do things that are out of touch with reality, especially when those actions result in preventable deaths. The doctor, I think, knew the answer to his question about why so many people are not vaccinated.
They have yet to receive the truth from people they trust. We help people connect with reality one person at a time, knowing that some will persevere in the challenge. St. Joseph High School held a vaccine briefing and distributed vaccines, persuading one person at a time. For those who choose to seek the truth and listen to those with expertise, lives are saved, families preserved and communities served. Conspiracies come and go, but the truth will endure as long as we continue to pursue it.
John Griffin, an attorney from Victoria, is a longtime diabetes volunteer and past chairman of the board of the American Diabetes Association.