Getting vaccinated is our patriotic duty

Javier Tije, Contributing Writer

Being a citizen of a nation comes with numerous benefits. Specifically in the case of the United States, we have the privileges of laws such as the Bill of Rights, which guarantees us some freedoms from being taken away by the government. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrminination on the basis of race, sex, color, religion or country of origin, gives us fundamental protections to protect the minorities. As citizens of the United States and our respective state of Texas, we enjoy privileges such as sewage, water treatment, road construction and other such collective benefits. All of this comes with a fundamental understanding in our country’s foundation and democracy that we must sacrifice something, such as the payment of taxes, jury duty or any other such public service for the greater good of our country. 

We understand that there are some crucial flaws in the system, and there are still injustices in our streets. Wealth inequality runs rampant, homelessness runs amongst our vulnerable—including veterans—wages have remained significantly stagnant and student loan debt is at an all-time high. This, and countless other problems, exist within our country. However, we continue our participation in our democracy for the greater good of our country and for the hope that we solve our problems together for the benefit of all citizens. The usage of the federal funds for research in science paves the way for new medical discoveries; the investment in education paves the way for a further educated electorate; the investment in infrastructure not only improves the livelihood of people, it also provides well-paying jobs. Yet, when it comes to public health, we have suddenly hit a roadblock.

Our understanding and sacrifice collapses under pressure of extreme partisan gridlock. A virus has been and continues to be politicized despite it claiming the lives of people of all political affiliations. Almost 650,000 Americans have now lost their lives to COVID-19. With the rise of the Delta variant, cases are now at an all-time high. And yet, despite numerous and valid scientific evidence given by the nation’s most respected and accomplished scientists, we continue to engage in inflammatory rhetoric over the usage of face coverings and vaccinations to slow the spread. Is it not our patriotic duty to protect each other? What happened to the sacrifices we make for the greater good? What good is it to have “freedom” from having to wear masks when there is a continuous strain of resources being dedicated to fight a virus that could be slowed significantly? What good is it to be able to avoid health guidelines if our fellow Americans continue to succumb to the virus? What good is it to be maskless when nurses and doctors, now suffering from burnout, continue to go day in and day out witnessing countless tragedies, only to do it over and over again with no end in sight, all in the name of “freedom.”

Freedom from what? Is this the price we are willing to pay for “freedom?” Our continued suffering for this notion of “freedom” from wearing a face covering? Having the “freedom” of not following health guidelines comes with the spread of an infectious virus. As a result, many more American lives will be lost: many of them mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and people we love and hold dear all in the name of “freedom.” The simple usage of a face covering is a small sacrifice we must pay for the greater good as citizens of this country. It is time we put aside this nonsense political bickering that is all too real and too damaging to the economy, doctors and nurses, resources and ourselves. I understand it is entirely inconvenient to have to wear a mask. I don’t know of a single person who genuinely enjoys wearing a mask. However, together we must work to address such concerns and encourage people to do their part and follow health guidelines. President John F. Kennedy once famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” This small sacrifice can make the difference in drastically improving our lives. It is a small price to pay, but it is big enough to make a lasting difference.