Good Friday marked two weeks after my second dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine. I didn’t advertise it on social media when I got the first or the second shots for a couple of reasons. The first being that it was in the latter days of the vaccine scarcity period, when people were concerned, justifiably, with healthy(ish) young(ish) people like myself “skipping the line,” and I didn’t want to be shamed. Even though the circumstance of my obtaining the vaccine was non-nefarious– I was tipped off to a pharmacy that was going to have to throw some doses away due to no-shows– tensions were high around access and I didn’t want to raise the temperature any more than was necessary.
The second reason is that I believe the main purpose of sharing your vaccination status is to create solidarity and help nudge those who are hesitant about receiving the shot(s). Because we are coming off an election year in the midst of a pandemic, many of the people I know who are vaccine-hesitant shut my voice out long ago, and I feared me announcing I got the shot would be even more reason for them to avoid it.
Last month we remembered what was the one year anniversary of, essentially, the beginning of the pandemic. This means that this month is when we mark the one year anniversary of when many among us decided that measures to mitigate the spread of the virus were too much, or too confusing, or evolving too quickly as new knowledge about its spread became known. A new phrase began to emerge– Faith over Fear.
The idea seemed, on the surface, simple: We need to not let fear of a potentially deadly virus, one that seems to only take the lives of the very old and very sick, rule our lives. Shortly after the initial “Faith over Fear” period, talk of herd immunity from infection began to grow as well.
I think this will be one of the things some of us spend our lifetimes trying to come to terms with– that 31 million infections which produced 560K (and counting) deaths in our country, not to mention the long-term known and unknown symptoms, wasn’t enough for many among us.
But I wonder if it was ever really about “faith over fear?” If it was, then wouldn’t the Faith over Fear caucus in our country be the primary ones getting the vaccine and plastering it on their social media platforms? Perhaps, or maybe I’m expecting too much. For me, it was about whether or not I would be responsible for the needless suffering of another. I emphasized needless because I know suffering is a part of life and unavoidable. But as someone who professes faith in Christ, I shouldn’t knowingly, either actively or passively, be the cause of suffering.
Although I took extreme measures over the past year primarily to protect the most vulnerable in my community, some of whom I will never know but who were just three or four links down the potential chain of transmission, I’d be lying if I said I also wasn’t a little fearful of getting COVID and dying. Though it was rare, we all saw the stories and knew it could be us. So yes, there was an element of fear to me getting the vaccine. But there also was an element of faith. Because faith isn’t just throwing ourselves to the winds of fate, it’s putting our trust in something that is trustworthy. In this case, it’s an act of faith to believe that God has instilled a sense of wonder and exploration into people who become scientists, and who dedicate their lives to eliminating needless suffering.
I’m reminded of this quote from Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and leader of the Human Genome Project, which illuminated many of the mysteries of human life– “The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate, and beautiful.”
So yes, maybe in the end I do believe in faith over fear, because I’m far less fearful, for both my neighbor and myself, now than I was before.