Recently, California adopted legislation that requires all children to obtain vaccinations in order to attend school. This is a wonderful thing, as it protects the community, as well as the children vaccinated, from disease outbreaks. This legislation has been enacted because there are parents who are against vaccines and who do not vaccinate their children, thereby exposing everyone including their children to dangerous diseases. These parents are undoubtedly trying to protect their children from adverse effects of the vaccines, but it does indicate an alarming lack of concern for the rest of the community. I suspect that at least some of these parents would state that the welfare of their child is more important than the welfare of anyone else, even the community. It is distressing to note this increasing decline in civic responsibility, not only in the area of public health but other areas as well.
Americans as a whole appear to have very little concern for the larger community, and are usually against higher taxes to fund things like public health and other social services. Europeans have learned through bitter experience that public programs for education, health, and welfare are better than relying on the vagaries of individual charity. Individual charity is simply inadequate; it is unreliable because people do not always choose to provide charitable funds, and only the wealthiest can provide significant funds for very expensive programs such as health. Overall, Americans seem to have a very short view of things, and to prefer individual freedoms over public good. They have forgotten, or never knew, that we are all one, and what hurts others hurts us as well. Perhaps they have not realized that publicly funded social programs can help prevent the need for charity. When we leave the provision of social programs to charity, it is very easy to simply allow others to take care of it, to let the responsibility pass from our shoulders and to forget about it. Forgetting others and being careless of their welfare is not conducive to the common good. We need to remember that humans can do more when working together.
It is clear that those who are thoughtful and who consider the larger picture need to be heard. Those who are contemplative and who know that we are all one need to stand as examples and show others how to see the world and each other. If we can find a sense of community again, more people will value and uphold the common good, and less energy will be expended defending individual notions and shortsighted public policies. If we can see the world as one, we will be less likely to harm each other, and more likely to at least try to lift each other up.
Copyright © 2015 Teresa Chupp. All rights reserved.