A BOURGEOIS TAKE ON GETTING VACCINATED: GRATITUDE
by Blake Shields Abramovitz
I’ve experienced a surprising spectrum of emotions since I got that second Pfizer shot.
First came a weirdly potent surge of relief, as if I’d been released from some long prison term. (Which of course I had.)
I legit cried at one point. With freedom in sight, all the tension and frustration of the long shutdown came rushing up. It’s been so f#%^ing hard. Harder than I’ve allowed myself to really feel.
Then I felt like I had a superpower. I was bullet proof. Invincible. ✨Immunized.✨ And not only that: Proud. I had conquered The Bug. 🦠 Me. Through fortitude and wisdom I had personally RISEN UP, bloody but victorious. And now, forthwith, I would dance upon the grave of my enemy. (Or upon the trillions of tiny graves of my trillions of tiny enemies, which I’m not sure how that’s even possible.)
It didn’t take me long to notice that all I’d done was drive over to the Forum, wait in line for five seconds, and get zapped in the arm by a jolly, talkative fellow from Compton. I hadn’t vanquished anything. Someone else had done it for me.
That’s when I landed on the feeling that has stayed with me, and grounded me, I think, in reality: Gratitude.
The truth is plain: Because of the insanely hard work of a few doctors, scientists, nurses, planners, and government personnel, and on account of the centuries of excruciatingly hard-won progress on which their work rests, I will not get sick. The people I love will not get sick. And the society I hold dear and on which my life depends will not falter. It will keep going, and all of us with it, and our children, and God willing, their children.
I’m a humanist. I love humans. I think we’re the best thing. And this advanced technical global society we now enjoy is the best one. Really, it’s the best society ever, for all its flaws. So, for me, the fact that we are not finished, not to be counted out, is excellent news.
That is why all I can think of to say is thank you, even though this position will surely invite ridicule (I don’t mind). Thank you, doctors. Thank you, scientists. Thank you, nurses. Thank you, vaccine roll-out planner people. Thank you, bureaucrats. Thank you, Bill Gates (maybe try couples therapy?). Thank you, Biden, and yes, even Trump. Thank you. It’s tragic that this issue was ever politicized at all. And so I offer this sentiment without irony, and outside of and aside from and beyond any politics: Thank you. I wish I could shake your hands, the lot of you.
How very bourgeois of me, how gauche, how un-hip! How thoroughly I’ve been indoctrinated! I know. But stay with me: I freely admit I have faith in modern medicine. These are the people, after all — imperfect though they may be, riven with error, corruption, and yet-to-be-solved problems though our system certainly is — who got rid of malaria, smallpox, and polio; who have caused AIDS patients to keep ticking for decades; who mapped the human genome; who can reassemble a knee, surgically replace a hand; who can take a human heart out of one person and put it into another person, such that that guy gets up and walks out onto the street and goes to the Apple Store and eats hotdogs and hugs his kids and leads a normal life. 🤷♂️
I’ll never forget how certain people reacted when I re-posted early forecasts from the CDC way back in April, 2020. The CDC was warning us that this damn novel coronavirus thing that no one had ever heard of might very well kill 600,000 Americans within a year, and that it might very well crash our healthcare system.
I was instantly advised that I was falling for transparent, fear-mongering propaganda. I was a rube, a card carrying sheeple (what is the singular of “sheeple?”). I was gullible beyond reckoning.
Well, now nearly 600,000 Americans are in fact dead, and our healthcare system did in fact strain near breaking in several major cities.
I haven’t heard any apologies from you guys. Instead, you seem to have forgotten the now-undeniably bad positions you trumpeted. Perhaps if you scroll down in your feed to March and April, 2020, it’ll jog your memory, or perhaps you kept a journal. That might be clarifying, because it seems you have largely just conveniently pivoted to some other righteous, suspicious, anti-government, anti-expert, do-your-own-research stance.
Well, fine. Some of you are dear friends of mine, beloved, brilliant, talented individuals all. I harbor no ill will toward you. We’re Americans, we get to amicably disagree. ❤️😊🇺🇸
I would just ask you to search yourself for any sliver of gratitude. Any sunbeam of thanks in your hip, skeptical heart. Because if there’s such a thing as the correct thing to be feeling, that’s it, even though it’s lame and boring and conformist and smacks of neo-liberalism and boomerism and statism and all the rest.
Do you feel it? Like even a little bit? Can you see that desperate businesses, the ones that survived, can now reopen? Can you see that fewer people will die in agony? That families will reunite? That no more ailing parents and grandparents will be forced to perish alone in blue hospital rooms as their children’s hearts permanently shatter? That the world will duly crank back up to full power now, like a killer old Buick after an expert tune up? That little kids will go back to school, and detonate with joy upon spotting their old buddies again, wrapping them up in some violent bear hug of anguish and relief and love? That forward progress will resume?
And that all of this, all of it, is because of… the vaccine?
I know it’s complicated. I accept that. I’m not that square. I read. I watch the YouTube. I know there are reasonable questions to ask, aside from unhinged conspiracy theories and party politics.
But friends, there’s also this: