Australia is a secular state. That is, our Government’s position on religion is that it neither supports religion or irreligion (that’s not a current Labor Government position; that is within our constitution and supported by all major parties). But what if we weren’t a secular state? What if our Government decided that we should be irreligious?
What if the practising your religious beliefs all of a sudden became illegal? What if all of the churches, synagogues, temples and mosques were closed down? What if you could no longer hold a prayer group? What if you could no longer have a congregation gathering to give praise to God or gods?
What if you could no longer baptise or christen your child? Imagine that. Imagine if the Government stopped you from protecting your child from sin? Imagine if you weren’t allowed to seal your child’s faith or fate; without a formal christening or baptism, could your child make it into Heaven should they die?
I know of people who have had their child baptised or christened for this very reason. I also know many people who have had the ceremony because “it’s just what you do,” or “I’m doing it for my parents” but according to close friends and family, the most common reason for getting your child baptised or christened is to get them into a good school thinking that Christian or Catholic schools provide a better education without costing as much as secular private schools.
But there are still those who would live with the fear that if their child wasn’t baptised or christened, their child would not be welcomed into the arms of Jesus upon their sudden death. And to many, this is a fear that is justified. Well, isn’t it justifiable if you were brought up to believe that you must be baptised in order to get into Heaven?
And you would have to live with that fear. You would worry almost every day about it, for when we become parents we worry too much just enough about them to want to give them everything they need. Basically, when it comes down to it, our fears are warranted and welcomed as they are a constant reminder to us to keep our children safe.
But let’s move on from talking about protecting our children after they have died because what we really need to do, and what we all try to do is protect our children while they are alive, and furthermore, we want to keep them alive; and healthy.
So what if the Government was anti-vaccination? What if tomorrow a group within the Government decided that those fears that the anti-vaccination organisations were founded? What if there was enough support to stop all vaccinations immediately? What with all the hype within the Australian press at the moment the fear would be transferred from this group that got their way to the public on mass.
And from those horror stories that the pro-vaccination (or compulsory vaccination) lobby groups have been writing and spreading in the media, the fears of the people would be justified. And rightly so as that fear is not about saving ourselves, but protecting the thing that we hold up as a higher priority than saving our own lives; protecting the life of a child.
So what if you stood on the other side of the table in this debate? What if you had been taught that vaccines are a deadly concoction filled with heavy metals, live viruses, and poisons; things that you wouldn’t want to inject into your pet dog? What if you didn’t learn this from Dr Google rather you were taught this by people you could trust? What if those people were doctors or other health care professionals teaching at well respected colleges?
What if the fears that you have are based on horror stories from parents who have lost a loved one immediately after their child has been immunised? And what do you say to those parents who decided to immunise their child only to have the child die and then decide not to vaccinate the rest of their children? Are their fears not justified?
I have a fear of spiders. I really don’t like many creepy crawlies at all and a wave of fear comes over me even when putting my hand near a daddy long leg spider even though most people would claim that it is an irrational fear. And to be honest, so do I as I believe some of my fears are irrational. But am I not allowed to have these fears? Should I be forced to get over my fear of spiders?
And so back to the vaccination/anti-vaccination debate; what it has come down to is, who has the greater fear? Are the fears of the masses greater than the fear of the individual? Whether those reasons given why being anti-vaccination are justified, and whether the myths about the evils of vaccinations are actually not myths but a reality that is deemed unbelievable by those who are pro-vaccination, is attacking the anti-vaccination supporter who lives with those fears going to change their mind about having the fear?
The coming Federal Election (like most elections) will be won by the party that can promote fear in the public that the other party is bad for our nation. Religions will pick up further followers by promoting their Fear of God mentality. And once you have entrenched the fear in someone, however the degree; the fear being rational or irrational, justified or unjustified, you just cannot change that person’s way of thinking by attacking their beliefs.
So go ahead, make vaccination compulsory. Ban children who have not been vaccinated from day-care, preschools and play-groups. And what have we done? We have put the fears of the greater public to rest, and only increased the fears of those who are against it.
And for the rest of their lives, whenever their child gets just that little bit sick they have to live with the guilt of them being a bad parent, because, on both sides of the debate, that’s the fear that all parents share.
So are the fears of those who believe in the anti-vaccination “myths” justified, and if not why? I don’t want to hear “because it has been proven that X does not contain Y or A does not cause B,” as I believe all of that already, rather I want to hear your opinion on how the fears, however irrational of people who believe in the arguments put forward by organisations such as the Australian [anti]Vaccination Network are are any different from those who have the Fear or God or other “real” phobias.
For further reading about the vaccination debate within my household, please read this story too. Relationship Survivor: Who Has This Week’s Immunity?