Cookie Schwaeber-Issan
Cookie Schwaeber-Issan

The Inhumanity of Some of Humanity

This morning, I woke up to the news that some Hollywood elites and late-night comedians have suggested that the unvaccinated not be admitted to hospitals in order to receive needed healthcare should they become infected with the Covid virus.

It’s honestly hard to imagine a more callous, uncaring, inhumane and judgmental pronouncement upon individuals, many of whose personal choices may have been based upon very logical and justifiable reasons not to be vaccinated – including advice by their personal physicians who intimately know their medical history.

Yet, a level of inhumanity towards our fellow man is, once again, being displayed without knowledge, information or regard for explanation.  For them, apparently one is not necessary.

But before anyone is tempted to point the finger at the inhumanity and callousness of the unvaccinated for “placing others at risk,” please refer to the memo that states both vaccinated and unvaccinated can catch and spread Covid.

On our way to holiday festivities, we couldn’t help but notice an endless line of cars on both sides of the highway, waiting to get their PCR tests at a designated location set up for that purpose. Some were said to have spent up to a full half-day in their cars waiting to reach the front of the line. That was just one station set up in one town.  Are all those waiting unvaccinated?  If not, why single them out of being unworthy of hospital care if it should come to that?

Perhaps, a very apropos illustration can serve to bring some clarity to what I believe is happening in today’s society.

As many others during this time of Covid, we have found ourselves watching a number of entertaining series, one of which has been Downton Abbey.  In one episode, there is a particularly interesting exchange where the matron of the estate becomes the victim of unwanted advances made by a guest who, during the time her husband is away at a speaking engagement, enters her bedroom, without invitation, and begins to declare his undying love for her.  Although she repeatedly asks him to leave, it isn’t until her husband unexpectedly returns early, only to find this stranger in his bedroom standing next to his wife, both in their robes.  Furious at what he has witnessed, her husband engages a brawl with the man, culminating in his decision to sleep in another room.  After a day or two of this cold shoulder treatment towards his wife, she enters her husband’s dressing room, where he’s been sleeping, to remind him that she had nothing to do with the guest’s unwanted advancements or surprise visit to her bedroom and that she expects her husband to return to their marital bed immediately.  When turned down, she leaves him by saying, “Think hard.  If you can categorically state that you have never had a flirtation or indiscretion, all the years of our marriage, then, by all means, stay where you are, but if you have, I will expect to see you back in our bed.”  It was then that we were all reminded that about two or three seasons prior, in the series, he, indeed, had engaged in a serious flirtation with one of the servants of the estate – to the point where he actually embraced and kissed her.  Some might say that this illustration is reminiscent of the well-known statement, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

It is by this very fitting example that the question begs to be asked, “Have all those who believe that the unvaccinated should be denied medical care never strayed from what was deemed to be prudent, wise and safe measures to take concerning health risks?  Have they never smoked, never drank too much and gotten behind a wheel, never eaten the wrong things or never abused drugs?  Have they meticulously followed all medical instruction which was designed to prevent injury to themselves as well as others?  Just recently, I witnessed someone being berated for their decision not to be vaccinated by an individual who had just lit up their third cigarette within an hour.

Again, it’s very tempting to judge the choices of others and believe yours is the most virtuous, but everyone, nonetheless, should be able to decide on their own medical treatment based on their own conscience.

Either way, history has proven that, since the fall of man, being in lockstep with everyone doesn’t usually end well.  It’s odd that diversity is generally seen as a good thing by the very same people who, in this case, believe in total conformity and “one size fits all.”

So as we approach what is known in Judaism as the Days of Awe, when each of us is called to take an inward look at our words, deeds and reactions, it might serve us all well to remember that amongst the greatest attributes of humanity are kindness, humility and generosity of mind and heart towards one another.

To actually recommend that those who have made a different health choice, for whatever reason, be denied the humanity of medical intervention, when needed, is to have sunk to a new level of inhumanity, cruelty and a type of judgment which only the Almighty can render.  It would be desirable not to be found standing on the side of wishing death to those who do not agree with you or pose a risk, more than any other, to their fellow human beings.  Such a debased wish is only evidence of a depraved spirit which seeks control and demand total obedience and acquiescence to whoever is in charge and calling the shots.

No one knows where the actions of those in power will lead or if their path will arrive at a good destination.  So, in conclusion, given the limitations of our knowledge, wisdom and good judgment, it might be best to take on a bit of humility, at this time, as we let others freely come to their own decisions and choices before suggesting that those who do so are not worth breathing our air.

There’s nothing like a fresh breath of human kindness.  May we all start out the New Year with such a conscious resolution – to allow each other their human right and dignity of seeking their conscience and divinely inspired life choices as is expected in a free and democratic society.

Shana Tova!

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.