There have always been those who feel that it’s best to allow our natural immune system to grow stronger by exposure to diseases and the like.
I agree. Kind of…
In fact that’s exactly how we ended up developing the concept of vaccinations. It was really based on the idea that limited exposure to the most virulent and deadly of human diseases could help the body build resistance to something so that when it was exposed to a full blown attack, it would now have sufficient defenses built up.
So far, so good. Right?
In fact it worked so well that within a number of decades many of the most dangerous and deadly diseases became controllable and some were even wiped out of natural existence. Ethics aside about the rights of the life forms themselves, it was a clearly a huge win for the science of vaccinations.
Then in the late 1990’s a fraud of a researcher named Andrew Wakefield released the results of a study that showed a direct link between vaccinations and autism. Since then his work has been completely discredited, but the false link between vaccinations and autism that he completely fabricated lives on in a lively group of followers, affectionately named “Anti-Vaxxers”.
Anti-Vaxxers believe in going back to the roots of our natural strength against disease, our amazing immune system. And in some cases, smaller and less lethal cases, they have a strong point. There is ample evidence that the more substances we are exposed to in our daily lives, the less allergies we develop. The more we live indoors breathing canned air, the less we tolerate those little bits of nature that irritate and bother us.
So what’s my point to all of this?
Chicken pox, mumps, etc. These are all things we dealt with in my childhood. There’s no doubt they made some people very sick, and were even deadly in some cases. But on the scale of virulent human diseases they were on the lower end of the scale, nothing like polio or even small pox.
I’m writing all of this because today I was visited by the memory of a man I knew when I was a kid. His name was Richard (Dick) Chaput. Dick was an author of the motivational/religious variety. He touched a lot of people’s lives, and was a bright light in a dark tunnel for many people who were suffering. He died many years ago, but even today there is a small blessing he wrote that stands outside of the little chapel at Storyland Amusement Park in Glenn, NH.
Why was he able to help so many who suffered? Well you see Dick was a victim of polio, a disease that we no longer see, quite simply because of vaccinations. He was confined to something called an Iron Lung, and spent his life without the use of his body, locked in this ancient machine that gave him the breath of life.
My friends and I used to love to go visit him and take him on a walk around the facilities he lived in. Since he could only be outside the Iron Lung for short periods, the nurses would load him on to a gurney and away we would go for a quick trip in the sunshine. He spoke constantly about God on these walks, and about God’s love. Dick saw God’s beauty in everything around him. I don’t care what your religious leanings, you can’t spend time around a person like that and not be inspired, even just a little.
And then there were the bells. He had a huge collection of bells all over his room, on shelves, in cabinets, just everywhere. He loved the sounds they made. I’m sure at some point he told me what they signified, and I could make a guess what it was, and I might even be right. But in the end he found joy in them. Simple joy in simple bells. To this day we have a strip of reindeer bells that hang on our door during the Christmas season that was originally meant as a gift for Dick, now it is a regular reminder of him for me.
But here’s the real point: Below is a picture of a man in an Iron Lung (it’s not Dick, I wish I had one of him). This is how I saw Dick every time I stopped by to visit. This is what polio did to him. Polio is now a preventable disease because of vaccinations. But it may not remain so. Just because something says “natural” or “organic” on it doesn’t mean that it’s superior. While there are a great many benefits to natural and organic things, science is not a fad. Vaccinations have done wonders for humans.
People used to have to live like Dick, locked in an iron prison in order to live. As time has passed less and less people remember these images, and the lack of memory somehow makes the history less real. But the diseases are real, and they can come back, and if they do they will kill.
There’s a limited amount of people like Dick out there, those who inspire. There are far more who prefer to profit from fear, who insinuate connections and conspiracies, and prey on our doubts. People like Wakefield.
So here is what I’d like: Just take a minute to look at the picture below. Does a vaccination with no proven link to autism really scare you more than living in a metal tube like this? Do you remember the real history of mortality in America only a generation or two ago?
It would be nice if Dick could somehow inspire people just once more. Even if it’s just to bring their kids in to get their shots so they won’t get themselves, and especially others, sick.