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Friday, October 15, 2021

Rice: Wait, use common sense before passing judgment

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When I was in military basic training (boot camp) during the middle 1960s in San Antonio, Texas, for eight grueling weeks, one particularly hot, humid morning the training instructor announced in a deep bellowing voice to me and my fellow participants during a rigorous workout regimen, “You rookies know there is a crazy war goin’ on in Vietnam and I gotta’ get y’all ready, but here’s the thing … since y’all been here for a while, how many of y’all love the great state of Texas?” Like misinformed dummies at that time, virtually all of us responded and answered the instructor in loud bellowing voices, “We don’t sir!”  The instructor promptly bellowed back, “Well, since y’all don’t like this great state of Texas, I want ya’ll to get down, give me 50 pushups, and push it away!”

I learned immediately, at that stage of my young life, don’t pass judgment on something you don’t fully understand that can bring on detrimental circumstances! But equally importantly, as it turned out, San Antonio, Texas, seemed to be a nice, pleasant place to spend time — at least away from the confines of the military base.

Similar to the misinformed reactions my boot camp comrades and I exhibited in basic training to the question about Texas, there are currently millions of misinformed Americans regarding the COVID-19 vaccine immunizations in this country to date. Although the vast majority of these individuals seem to be misinformed, many of them have also been led off track with disinformation, politicization, and propaganda tactics — primarily from special interest groups, including various national, state and local politicians. 

The end result of all this confusion for the American public is that only approximately 49% of the country has been vaccinated and immunized with one of the three medications available (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson), even though it’s readily accessible in virtually all parts of the country.  The percentage of vaccinated individuals here in the state of Indiana is roughly 47% at this point in time, when again it is available in virtually all parts of the state, yet many refuse to take the vaccines because of misinformation, disinformation or their political views. 

Sadly, recent statistical information reveals COVID-19 deaths, plus the surging delta variant virus deaths combined are now up to around 670,000 for the entire country. The current number of COVID-19 and delta deaths for Indiana are approximately 13,600 people. Unfortunately, these are a lot of people dying unnecessarily because of their denial to take the vaccinations. For the richest country in today’s world, these are disturbing numbers, considering the fact vaccines are available virtually everywhere now within its borders.  Misinformation, disinformation, politics and outright lies about the vaccines are running rampant, and out of control like a runaway freight train about to be derailed from its tracks.

Misinformation is quite destructive regarding the lack of immunizations in the country because people often choose to go to unreliable sources for their information, generally on questionable internet sites. These days there is such an abundance of unreliable web sites on the internet it is extremely difficult to monitor them and keep them in check.  Most of them choose to have certain agendas for their own reasons in order to achieve their own objectives.  Even some of the major cable news networks, such as OAN and Fox News (not local Fox News) cater to a certain public mind set for support of misinterpreted information to create confusion and denial on the vaccines. Tragically, the vast majority of these supporters fervently believe this false information and cannot be dissuaded, consequently leaving them vulnerable to the menacing virus.

Then there are those purveyors of fabricated information about the vaccines that is deliberately designed to gain the support of vulnerable individuals who are looking for a cause to belong to.   These people are deliberately targeted with disinformation — people who tend to be less informed, people living in rural areas, even those in large urban minority areas with beliefs the government can’t be trusted for racist reasons, and those in cult-like groups with certain agendas to prevent them from taking the vaccines. A lot of strategically targeted disinformation by these purveyors to these vulnerable individuals to achieve agendas designed for their own political purposes. Indeed, politics plays a major role in most of these tactics.

According to the U.S. Constitution, we live in a society with free will and free choice and can make individual decisions about our own lives. To that end, the vast majority of us do operate in this manner, and I’m a strong advocate of that … as long as it applies to all of us. I am aware enough, however, to recognize there is indeed a major public health crisis in this country, and around the world, in the form of this COVID-19 virus that has transformed itself into a more deadlier virus which kills many more susceptible victims. This virus is no joke. It’s for real.

I’m hoping all of us, including myself, seek out credible news sources for the correct information on this COVID-19 and delta virus, and stay away from elements with propaganda and political agendas. If we are going to survive, protect ourselves and loved ones, and get to the next phase, we have got to follow the science and use good judgment based on proven medical tactics. We simply cannot allow deception and political agendas to prevail. Let’s keep it real. Stay informed, and please get vaccinated. 

Ron Rice is a retired criminal justice professional, local author and active motivational speaker.  He can be reached at rice.ronald@sbcglobal.net.

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