Open heart surgery scheduled for Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, at Maine Medical Center: canceled because of COVID.

My new year was to begin recovering; instead, I wait.

Science and math (statistics) say about 40% of Americans remain unvaccinated, most by choice, not because of medical reasons. Those 40% make up 90%-plus of the COVID cases in hospitals today ― infecting others, taxing hospitals like Maine Medical, forcing cancellation of non-emergency surgeries because of lack of beds and staff.

Those who refuse generally say they have the right not to put something in their bodies that might poison them. When civil liberties come ahead of society’s needs, we have a conundrum.

Living in society comes with rules, for the sake of all neighbors. That is patriotism.

When, instead, we put our own civil liberties ahead of our country, one word pops up: selfishness.

Recently, a man I knew contracted COVID and died. He had quit his job because he thought company mask policies and rules imposed on him because he was working with the public were against his civil liberties. When this was mentioned to another anti-vaxxer, the response was, “It was his personal choice and why was it so upsetting to you that he died?”

Here’s why. On his way out (he was only 63), how many people did he infect? Did he take a bed away from someone else during his illness because of his choice? Is he and are others like him the reason we are still in a pandemic?

A close family member almost died from the vaccine. Another person, who knew her, argued for me to “wake up.” I “awoke” to share that my family member, whose immune system was compromised, made a calculated decision to get vaccinated because she was scared COVID, if contracted, would kill her.

If we had 90% compliance taking the vaccine, compromised people wouldn’t have to gamble their lives to vaccinate because the world would be safe ― but with 40% of people unvaccinated, and she working in the tourism industry, she was a sitting duck, so she took a chance that almost cost her her life.

The takeaway is unless you are immunocompromised, or a doctor deems it dangerous, take the jab, if not for yourself, for those around you. This is not moralizing; this is a pragmatic approach to beating back this pandemic and keeping our economy and schools open.

It’s interesting and oxymoronic that most in favor of no mandates are the ones increasing the risks, creating the need for them.

Vaccinations have been around since 1796 when a country doctor, Edward Jenner in England, took pus from a cowpox lesion on a milkmaid’s hand and inoculated James Phipps, an 8-year-old boy. There followed a long history of vaccination mandates for kids to go to public school, yet many anti-vaxxers politicize this as a step away from socialism and communism.

Smallpox was eliminated by mandating vaccinations. It was not a political statement to refuse it; everyone knew the stakes and did their part whether Republican, Democrat or neither. People considered themselves “neighbors.”

When a drunk driver (a conscious choice like not vaccinating) leaves a bar or party late Saturday night, is it on the person killed because they chose to drive home after work, or is it on the drunk driver?

The decision not to vaccinate is identified as personal choice, but shouldn’t it be about personal responsibility, respect for others, and a price paid to live in a society with rules and laws that protect us all? Our history includes speed limits on roads, alcohol limits in our body, and hundreds of laws honoring that our primary job is to protect each other.

Some say they don’t want to poison their bodies, yet drink alcohol and eat lots of red meat and fried foods. For them, the narrative seems more important than their neighbors.

Have a healthy and prosperous New Year and let’s hope we can resurrect more neighborliness as 2022 progresses.


On a lighter note, from my friend’s “Jew News,” Brad writes:

“Contestant in camel beauty pageant disqualified for using Botox ― In my dogged pursuit to bring you news mattering most to Jews, I ran across this gem regarding a Camel beauty contest. You read that right. And yes, this is real, and something just added to my bucket list! Saudi Arabia’s popular King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicked off earlier this month, inviting breeders of the most beautiful camels to compete for $66 million in prize money. Botox injections, face lifts, and cosmetic alterations to make the camel more attractive are prohibited. Jurors decide winner based on shape of camels’ heads, necks, humps, dress postures, and of course, personality. I’m thinking of being the U.S. agent for the event, bringing it to Westminster in 2023. Last year’s winner, Dudley, caught wearing dentures, was disqualified.


“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other.” — George Eliot (pen name of Mary Ann Evans), novelist (1819-1880)

Reade Brower is the owner of these newspapers.