Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Letter to the Editor

I don't do controversy. I also avoid conflict. I figure that there are enough people in this world who quite willingly look after both those areas, so I choose to steer clear. It's just the way I roll.

That's not to say that I don't have an opinion and will gladly offer it if asked. And if I am in a discussion and I disagree about the topic, I can voice that quite comfortably. It's just that I don't go throwing out a line, fishing for it.

There's a topic that has been in the news and around the Internet a lot lately. Both sides are passionate and vocal. Both sides of course, think that they are right. I've been quiet about my thoughts in that forum but anyone who knows me, knows that I most definitely do have an opinion.

I just came across a copy of a 'Letter to the Editor' that I wrote about 15 years ago. Those were the days when everyone read the daily newspaper and a 'Letter to the Editor' was about as public as you could get. Although I had written several acknowledgements over the years, the last thing that I would ever do was put myself out there, giving my actual opinion in a public forum. And a controversial opinion? Never. Ever.

Until my Mother got involved.

She had been dead for twenty years, but she was still a very influential woman in my head. With this, she got into my conscience and picked at it. Actually, she did more than pick; she poked and prodded and kept me up at night. I argued, insisting that she knows me. She KNOWS that I would NOT do controversy, and would NOT address anything publicly. But oh no, she wouldn't let up. She gave me her voice and her words.

I have a feeling that the fact that I have come across it now, after all these years, at this time when it is once again a hot topic is perhaps her doing. She's thinking that her own personal message still needs to be heard.

 So Ma, here it is:


To the Editor:
A headline in the Beacon Herald on May 9 said: "Vaccine Critics Hinder Fight Against Disease". 'Critics maintain benefits of vaccination have been overblown and risks are under-estimated.'

It's too bad they can't talk to my Mother.

She could tell them how it was before immunization was universally available in this country.  She could tell them how it felt to have someone pry the body of your two year old daughter from your arms. She could tell them what it was like to take a picture of your two month old son and try to make his casket look like a bassinet - like he was just 'sleeping' because it was the only photograph that you had.

She could tell them how it felt to lose two children within five days from whooping cough and pneumonia; what it feels like to bury your baby on Christmas Eve and wake up on Christmas morning with one child when you had three a few days earlier.

She could tell them of a lifetime of sadness and frustration that she lost her children to something that became preventable so soon after.

She could not have told them the number of times that she had said "If only ..." but she definitely could tell them how grateful and relieved she was when the vaccine became available for her other children.

She would think that the statement that "benefits of vaccination have been overblown" did not come from someone who lived during the time when it was all too common for children to suffer permanent disabilities or to die. And she would wonder why there has to be a 'quiet public relations campaign' from the health professionals who have worked so hard and been successful in eradicating these diseases. She would have been angry and disgusted and frightened.

I know that she would acknowledge that there is a small risk, but she could show them that the cold, hard reality of no immunization is chiseled in stone.

If they could talk to my Mother she would point out that while many of the concerns are unproven and speculative, the effect of no immunization can be proven indeed - with the picture of her 'sleeping' baby and her broken heart.

Evelyn Scott
RR 7, St.Marys 

Keith Austin 

Lenore Mary