Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 | 2 a.m.
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.
Jewish people around the world observed Yom Kippur this past week. It is the Day of Atonement during which we fast from sunset on Wednesday to sunset on Thursday. We openly recount our sins, promise to do better and seek forgiveness all so that we can be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.
This is the year 5782 in the Jewish calendar. Anyone who can do math knows that the Christian religions are far behind timewise but, nevertheless, follow similar traditions designed to make us better human beings. It remains to be seen whether once a year is sufficient for repentance or the more common daily and weekly confessions are more productive.
Spending the day reflecting on one’s shortcomings is a healthy pursuit. You learn a lot about yourself and your fellow human beings.
Too often, though, at least in my personal experience, there is a repetitiveness to these human failings despite efforts in earnest to make things better. I choose to accept these “minor” failings and trust that the fellow upstairs sees fit to inscribe me nonetheless.
This year’s religious services for me — like last year’s — was via Zoom. Others, however, attended services in person. The idea of sitting in a room full of people — even with God looking out for each and every one of us — was too much for me to contemplate.
I know that many people are vaccinated, but I also know there are some who aren’t. That I don’t know —and couldn’t know — where the people were before services and with whom they met and what they did tested my ability to deal on any level. So I Zoomed.
It was my choice.
And that is why I write today. Choice is a big deal, especially in America where we have that luxury knowing there are billions of people around the world who don’t.
So here is what troubles me. Both the Jewish and Christian traditions teach adherents to treat thy neighbor as thyself, have respect and compassion for the least among us, protect the newest generations and the weak for they are the inheritors, and do unto others, etc. The theme is consistent and critical to a good life, a good Jewish life and a good Christian life.
So, knowing that vaccinations for COVID-19 actually save lives and protect those who can’t be vaccinated — the young people especially — why are so many people refusing to take the shot?
I know there are a few, very few, people who have strong religious convictions (I don’t understand that but accept it) about the matter, but the overwhelming majority of folks who refuse to do the right thing, the biblically encouraged thing, are doing so for other reasons.
As best I can tell the main reason is that they think they are Republicans — whatever that is these days — as if the virus cares about political ideologies. Those folks have pitted the idea of liberty against the reality of life and death, as if they are a modern day Patrick Henry.
They are not. And they are confused. What they are, plain and simple, are folks who don’t mind jeopardizing the health and safety of the majority of Americans — their friends and neighbors — who have been vaccinated and every young child who cannot get vaccinated.
How great is the sin of knowingly subjecting another innocent human being to death or sickness because of hubris, ignorance or worse — malice? And who, in good conscience, can even think of asking God to forgive such a failure?
Not to get too political but this unconscionable behavior is mostly a Republican failure — some kind of newly conjured article of faith. So, there is good news.
At this time when people of goodwill are seeking to be inscribed in the Book of Life for being good and doing good, let the Republicans do what they do best.
Let them get vaccinated like everyone else so this country can defeat this pandemic and get on with life. Yes, let those who have refused to do the right thing, change their minds.
Let them walk their talk. Let them choose life for the rest of us.
To all people of goodwill, Happy New Year.
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun