This is a really big topic, and the center of a lot of debate at the moment.
When I was pregnant with my son, we spent a lot of time looking over all of the information about the different tests and things that were available to us. We decided not to do any tests that we could not do anything about. What that means is that if the result of a test would tell us something, but we could not do anything to change the outcome then there is no point. One of these tests would tell us that our child would likely have down syndrome. Because there would be no way to lessen the probability following the test, we decided not to do it. Additionally the risks associated with the test were far more likely to cause problems than the likelihood that it would find anything. I have worked with down syndrome kids and we knew that if anything were to happen we would deal with it.
That said I was seeing many different doctors within the practice so that I would have met any of the ones who might end up delivering the baby. One of these doctors (luckily they were no longer employed there by the time I went into labor) was very indignant that we opted not to do this test. I understand that doctors have their own personal beliefs, and that they are supposed to do no harm. We were very upset that she refused to respect our choice, especially since that choice, according to the statistics, the science, was the less damaging. The doctor agreed that there was nothing that could be done about the results, and understood our risk/benefit analysis. Unfortunately the doctor’s personal preference to know took precedence and made us very uncomfortable.
This is something that is the patient’s choice. It has no effect on anyone else’s life. Us knowing in advance would change nothing except potentially adding problems because of the test.
Some people choose to have the test because if the child is more than likely going to have down syndrome, they would terminate the pregnancy. This would be considered a medical reason and is subject to different rules than if the parents chose abortion for a healthy child. I respect that choice. Having children is a huge responsibility, children with special needs more than doubly so. Although I do believe that every person has worth I know that many people would not be able to handle the care that these children require.
Abortion is a choice that does affect other’s lives, mostly the parents and the child’s. That choice should be about what is best for those people. If the parents, specifically the mother, know that the child would not be well off growing up in that household or situation, they have the options of adoption or abortion. It is the responsibility of those involved to make the decision about what is best. Just being alive is not always the better option. I used to say that having a child would end my life, not in a literal sense, but in a figurative one. When I was younger I would not be able to devote the time to improving my situation if I were to care for a child. The child would come first, and unfortunately would not be able to be brought up in the way I would like if I did not have a job and an education.
So what about the other big debate right now? Vaccines. I believe in free choice. I do not like it when the government imposes things we have to do. As far as I am concerned wearing a seat belt should be a personal choice. The statistics are out there, it is undoubtedly safer with a seat belt, but the only life lost would be your own, yes other lives are affected by this as well. In a perfect society I would say that people need to take that into consideration as they weigh the risks and benefits (?) of not wearing a seat-belt. I know however that people tend to be self-centered and not consider that others would be affected by their passing.
What does this have to with vaccines? I believe that people should be allowed to make their own choices. However people are not very good at weighing the data, or considering others. I really feel silly for repeating some of this, but the original study used to back the argument that vaccines cause autism has been retracted, and the author discredited. The other risks that are often cited are concerns about the inefficacy or side effects of the vaccines themselves. If the vaccine is ineffective, you are no worse off than if you did not have it, so I believe there is no more to be said about that. As far as side effects, these are usually minimal, a little soreness, but come on, you stuck a needle there, why wouldn’t it be sore? Yes, some people are allergic to certain elements of the vaccines. The chances of this are extremely remote. Those who are too young, do have a bad reaction, or find that the vaccine is ineffective are those who have to count on herd immunity. As a culture we have had this type of immunity for long enough that some people forget what the risks really are, which makes a real risk/reward analysis skewed. It can also allow people to forget that their decisions can affect others.
This is an article about a child who was exposed to measles. And this is the response from an anti-vaccine advocate. One of the points made in the response is that the man who carried the infection had been vaccinated. This means that he is just as much of a victim of the shrinking herd immunity as the child. Yes, I have problems with the pharmaceutical industry, but that is about them charging too much for things. They have something of value and a monopoly on it. They are taking advantage, and not realizing who that might hurt, but I do not believe they are evil. If you look at some of her links you can see that the evidence does not all fit. The risks associated with the vaccine are stated, but it is clearly stated that those risks apply to the people who should be counting on herd immunity. Her link about the court case has a headline reading “Merck Whistleblower Suit A Boon to Vaccine Foes Even As It Stresses Importance of Vaccines”.
I do believe in free choice, but I am an idealist and think that people should have the ability to make informed decisions when they are given the information. I have a problem when what I believe should be the case is not the case. In the case of vaccines, I am tempted to say that the government should take away people’s right to choose, for other’s protection. But if I do that, am I any different than those who want to take away women’s right to make decisions about abortion? Am I any different than those who advocate taking guns away because some might be used to kill? Am I any different than those who are trying to take away our right to choose our leaders? If I choose to limit people’s right to spread misinformation I am not different than anyone who tries to limit my speech against corporations or governments. These are rights I believe in, and I refuse to participate in setting a precedent that would assist taking away these rights, and others. I can only hope that giving people the information and teaching them how to use it (including reforming our current school system) is the best way. I am not willing to risk the future of our democracy in order to combat one ill-informed decision. A functional democracy depends on having an informed populace. That is what we need.
Hey America! Fossil Fuel is not the answer. Even Nuclear Power is unnecessary. Let’s set aside the debate over whether or not global climate change is happening or if it caused by man. It does not matter. There are enough reasons to stop using fossil fuels without that.
The argument about the technology not being ready has been made since the 1970s. The technology is there now. We have the ability. Yes, batteries are still the weak point, but there are very promising possibilities there too (Tesla) (Hydrogen). The potential energy that is out there is astonishing. The power from the sun alone provides more than we need.
Many countries are making great headway towards completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels (Germany) (Austria) (China). If this is possible so quickly after starting down this road, why is America vowing only to reduce our output by a small percentage over the next several decades? Those in power are making this seem like it is an incredibly difficult goal to attain and is going to make a huge difference.
The only reason that this is challenging is because of the power that the existing structure has to prevent any change. Our current model is to the benefit of a few who will pay a lot of money to keep it the way it is.
What about the other objections people raise? One of the strangest to me is that the technology is not nice to look at. For one thing, what is more important? The future of the planet or the color of your roof? Another thing, the methods of getting fossil fuels are a lot less pretty.
Ok, so you don’t want solar panels or wind turbines in your backyard and you are willing to pay for the line loss. There are other possibilities too.
In fact keeping energy production closer to home can solve lots of problems. As far as I can tell the main reason that we are currently using large wind and solar farms rather than investing more in at-home systems is because the power companies still get their cut this way.
Ok, what about those job losses we hear so much about? Renewables create more jobs than it replaces.
A few more arguments that are worth discussing.
Ok, so this is more like a list of outside info than a real post, but seriously, the information is out there. I don’t need to repeat it.
For many years I have been ridiculed for not conforming to societal norms, not just with regards to gender, but race, fashion and many more. I think that you said it very well. There is a difference between what is biological and what is societal. Biology determines certain things, but cultures determine even more, and many people do not see where those things begin and end. I am a woman who rejects wearing makeup, not because I reject being feminine, but because I believe that I am beautiful as I am. If I were to wear makeup that would be covering up my personal beauty and covering it with what society tells me is beautiful.
I reject the notion that women look terrible without makeup, inevitably women who wear makeup all the time see themselves without it done, and are so accustomed to them with it that that has become what they expect themselves to look like. Also every image I see, or women telling how awful they look without makeup there is still smeared makeup. I am an actress, I do wear makeup for characters, and I know that it is impossible to get it all off at once. When a woman only sees herself ‘without makeup’ in this state, of course she thinks she looks bad.
But this is not about makeup, it is about stereotypes. I find that oftentimes people do not realize that they are reinforcing stereotypes. People think men are not supposed to cry, so men avoid crying, which only reinforces the idea that men do not cry. The other day I had the opportunity to see a heartbroken young man just after he discovered his wife was cheating (I work in a hotel). I have never seen a stranger so honest as he was. I admire his strength as he tried to solve the situation. But his tears were actually what I admired most. Even though he tried to hide them, he was honest enough to cry in front of a stranger. Men do cry, because people cry. Crying is not a sign of weakness, it is a strength. Crying is a way to get emotion out of the way in order to think rationally. Especially with the stigma against crying, I find it a real sign of strength of character and confidence in ones-self.
Because I explore many other cultures, I think that I have a better idea than many about what is biological, and what is societal, but I believe that if people were more aware of how society was influencing them, people would be more prepared to step outside of those norms. I also believe that this is where the whole “finding yourself” thing comes in. I have never really had that battle. I have always been very comfortable with who I am, even when society strongly expresses its disapproval. But if you believe that since you are a certain thing you must follow certain guidelines, you will have a difficult time finding who you are. The only way is to break out.
I know that Extra Credits wrote their episode about video game characters, and making them more real, but I find that many real-life people are as flat as a poorly constructed character, because they go through life being who they are told to be, essentially being a character. This hurts me, because I really want to know the person who is hiding, they are sure to be a brighter star than the bland lifeless facade they hide behind.
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey