I don’t know what any of these say – except “the beach”, which is a place I always want to go. Perhaps now more than ever.
Our good family friend Gerri Thomas used to say that kids’ personalities followed their birth order, and that, generally speaking, it went tiger – lamb – tiger. Which meant that I, as a middle child, was a lamb. Some people might argue with that, but if you know my brother and sister, you’d definitely agree that I am book-ended by tiger personalities.
Some “classic middle child” characteristics include being a people-pleaser and peacemaker, having strong and long-lasting friendships, being easy going, and making a good mediator or negotiator. On the other side of the coin, classic middle children can be somewhat rebellious and independent, are more realistic than not, and they don’t like being told what to do.
Here’s to being a “classic middle child.”
I watched a video discussion last week that’s been gnawing at me. One of the guys on the panel (interestingly, a middle child) wondered aloud (which took a lot of humility and courage, given his name recognition and the forum they were speaking in) if he’d been quiet and reserved in addressing all that’s happening in the world out of love – not wanting to offend, isolate, alienate – or out of cowardice. One of the other guys on the panel (interestingly, an oldest child) confirmed his suspicions that he’d pretty much been silent out of cowardice. He said it kindly but boldly, as only a good friend can – or maybe more importantly, as a good friend should.
My sister’s a tiger. Always has been. I asked her basically the same question the other day, given that she has been much more outspoken about the goings on in the world than I have. She told me, “You’ll know when it’s right. I’m used to being disliked. Gotta feel weird for you though.” She’s as funny as she is wise. I read something that same day – and not for the first time – that said, “If you are silent about your beliefs because you’re worried someone will be offended, then your beliefs are not important to you, but rather what people think about you is. When you stand up for what’s right and true, you will receive both hate and love, but everyone will know what you are fighting for.”
We are living through crazy times and I genuinely do not believe it’s going to get better anytime soon. As an optimist, that’s a hard thing to admit out loud. I opined in this post from fifteen months ago that at “two months into the shutdown” I was “tired” and hoping we could all come together to “finish this thing well.” Here we are, more than a year later, and the proverbial “end” is nowhere in sight. Not only is the end nowhere in sight, the lines that divide us have, in many cases, become crevices that run deep.
In the past few days, I have spent time with or talked to a dozen or more friends whose jobs are in jeopardy because they have chosen not to receive a medication they do not want, need or believe will be beneficial to themselves or their family members. As of today, everyone in this country – and most countries around the world – who wants to be vaccinated has been. I genuinely don’t believe it would do any good to hash out the numbers at this point. Everyone has access to the data. Everyone knows how to calculate the death rate, the survival rate, or any other rate you’re looking for to help make your point. I never have been and never will be a “COVID-denier.” I had COVID, my kids had COVID, and I’ve had dozens of family and friends who have had COVID, to varying degrees of severity. I have lost people I care about to COVID, so I won’t even entertain these arguments.
But how in the world are we here? How in the world are millions of Americans being forced to inject something into their bodies against their will just so they can continue to provide for their families? Or, incomprehensibly, stay on a transplant list or receive medical treatment for a host of non-COVID issues? I recently had an antibody test done through a nationally-recognized lab (not an at-home test) that confirmed that I have “very robust immunity.” In speaking with my healthcare team, they confirmed that I do not need, nor should I receive, one of these injections. There are literally millions of Americans in the same boat as me. I am eternally grateful that I am not in a situation where my job is in jeopardy if I decline to receive one of these medications, but there are countless people I care about who are in that boat – and I can’t remain silent about it any longer.
Not that anyone particularly cares what I think, but some day my children will look back and read all these blog posts, and I want them to know that at this pivotal moment I stood for what I believed in.
I have tons of family and friends who have received one injection or another without any side effects or adverse reactions. I have friends whose kids have received one injection or another and had no reaction. I do not begrudge them their decision to go that route and I am genuinely grateful for their lack of reaction to these medications.
On the other hand, I have several family and friends who have had adverse reactions – with varying degrees of severity, just like those I know who have had COVID. One of my closest friends experienced complete paralysis on one side of her body within days of receiving the first Pfizer injection. My parents both had severe reactions to the Moderna injection. My mom had a stroke 48 hours after her first injection, for crying out loud. She still has a blood clot in an artery in her brain. They are trying to treat it with medication so they don’t have to go in and put a stent in the artery – in her brain! My good friend’s mother had a massive heart attack within hours of receiving the Moderna injection. I could go on but I won’t because, again, what’s the point in hashing out my “adverse reaction” stories with your “no reaction” stories?
The point is, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation we are in.
Interestingly, several of the people I told about my mom responded that, given her health challenges over the past year, they were surprised her health care team would allow her to receive one of the injections. The truth is, they didn’t allow her to receive the injection, they pressured her to receive it. They’ve asked her at every visit – which has basically been every week for months – if she’s had or if they can provide her with an injection. Not one of them stopped to assess her current list of health challenges, many of which are neurological, her medication list or the convergence of concurrent conditions she’s wading through these past several months. It’s just this blanket mandate that we all must fall in line – and I am honestly angry about it.
While my job may not be in jeopardy, parts of my life have definitely been impacted by these mandates. Many of you know that I returned to school to finish my degree after my husband passed away. Due to these mandates, I recently withdrew from Washington State University because I would not consent to their mandatory injection policy. I find it curious that their football coach pushed back publicly and the college’s administration determined that faculty and staff do not have to consent to the injections but their student body still does.
In my letter of withdrawal I cited the Nuremberg Code, the globally-recognized standard for medical treatment and consent, which was developed by a unilateral board of nations after the atrocities of WWII. The Nuremberg Code explicitly states that “the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion.” I am pursuing my educational goals at another university and under circumstances that are not my first choice, but I had to be true to what I felt strongly about for myself and my family. Coercion (free beer, free marijuana, free lottery tickets) is not consent. Force (you can’t work here, eat here, attend a concert here or go to school here) is not consent.
This is crazy.
Some of you will cheer and applaud my decision and stance, and some of you will scoff at and disagree with it. That’s OK. My neighbor and I had a great conversation last night where we admitted that we see things differently but can still respect and like one another and treat one other with 2019-era dignity and respect. As your “classic middle child,” I genuinely do not want a path of scorched earth or burned bridges trailing behind me when this is all said and done. I also don’t want those I care about left standing without an ally. I want teachers who are still able to teach the students they love, nurses and CNAs who are still able to treat the patients they care deeply about, firefighters who are able to respond to 911 calls and bus drivers who are able to provide for their families. I know I have friends in every one of these fields who also feel strongly that these medications should be mandated, and my love, respect and care for them will not wane one single bit throughout this.
We’ve all heard the expression “we’re in the same boat” a million times this past year. But the truth is, “we’re not all in the same boat. We’re in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat.” I can’t tell you what to do from where you sit in your boat, but I will commit to throwing you a lifeline if the seas get choppy for you. I will commit to kindness, courtesy, grace and love. And I will commit to fight hard for you if you’re up against anything that threatens your freedoms or your ability to provide for your family.
I lost my brother 14 years ago, He was the oldest. With him gone I’m technically the oldest now, so, employing Gerri’s logic, I’m both a tiger and a lamb. In the craziness of the world around you, if you need a lamb who offers a peaceful environment to decompress in, I’ll be one for you (blessed are the peacemakers). And if you need an ally to fight alongside you (Daniel did not comply with Darius’s order; Rahab did not comply with Jericho’s forces searching for Joshua and Caleb), I’ll tiger up and be there in a heartbeat.
This post is probably more for me than it is for any of you. Like I said, I need to be able to tell my children I did not stand by silently while boats were adrift in the storm around us. Echoing that post from more than a year ago, I genuinely do pray that we finish this thing well. And if “well” means wearing stripes more often than wool going forward, then stripes it is.