Why is the vaccination rate in Wyoming so low? Why are Republican men the group least likely to get vaccinated? It is very frustrating to be vaccinated myself, feeling safe in my own body, yet still worried about the kids who are too young to be vaccinated, and the people I love who are refusing to be vaccinated. What is going to happen in the fall when we are spending more time indoors, and the kids go back to school? Will the school board need to have more meetings about masks? Will the board members resign, rather than subject themselves to the drama and abuse once again? Will businesses continue to lose production because their unvaccinated workers have to be quarantined again and again? How many more people will needlessly suffer and/or die from COVID? Why would anyone take medical advice from Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan? Are Republican men stupid and gullible? I know many Republican men, some for my entire life, and I would not describe them as stupid or gullible.
I get the reason why people tune in to Tucker Carlson. It is not so much about news analysis as it is about emotional resonance. When I was a teenager, I loved listening to Slayer, South of Heaven at maximum volume. It was less about musical talent, and more about resonance with the emotions I was experiencing at the time.
I have listened to the excuses, such as, no one knows what kind of side effects might show up ten years from now from these new vaccines. Give me a break, Republican man! I know you better than that. You are not afraid of some unlikely event in the future. You are brave. You are tough. You do what you need to do without flinching.
I couldn’t make sense of all this, but then I realized something. I was listening wrong. I was listening to the words of the vaccine refusers, but the message was in the subtext. I heard snarky comments about Anthony Fauci. I heard voices raised in anger. I closed my eyes, and remembered the comments, and this is what I heard beneath the spoken words. “I am bummed about the election. I hated hearing all the criticism piled on Donald Trump. I wish everyone felt the same way I feel about him.” This got tangled up with the timing of the vaccine roll out. Let’s be honest. Republican men who live in Wyoming, as a group, tend not to be highly skilled at identifying and processing their own emotions.
There is no such thing as a wrong emotion. We must face our emotions head-on, and accept them as they are. Anger is a protective emotion that we wear like a suit of armor. We must give ourselves a little time to take off the armor, and attend to the wounds underneath. We must accept our emotions, but we must be responsible for our actions. Recklessness, self-harm, and harming others, including through negligence, is not OK.
We have a short window of time during this summer lull to get everyone vaccinated and avoid a bad situation when the seasons change. We each need to do our part to keep businesses and schools running smoothly, and to protect people who are vulnerable because they are unable to get vaccinated. Please, just do the right thing. Do it now
LISA JAMIESON, Casper