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by Brenda Looper | July 14, 2021 at 2:56 a.m.
Brenda Looper

Stubbornness is a trait well-represented in my family by the confluence of at least three bloodlines (two from my mom's side, and one from my dad's). It comes in rather handy when standing up for principles, but if new information changes the equation, I'm not too stubborn to re-evaluate my position.

It's mildly annoying when you refuse to do something, like get with the times. My mom refused to take my old laptop or to get a smartphone, which meant that if she wanted to look something up, she called me (I didn't mind, but still ...). I didn't get a cell phone for the longest time, but after I had my stroke, I began to see the wisdom of having one with me to make communication easier, especially if I experience dysphasia (loss of the ability to speak) again. One brother still refuses to get a cell phone (even of the non-smart variety). Sure, maybe it's because I'd probably be texting him a lot to gig him for one thing or another, but I already do that on Facebook, sooo ...

Other times, though, being stubborn can come with severe consequences. Few of us really like going to the doctor, but it has to be done, especially if you are experiencing something that could threaten your life or your abilities. Maybe that's being bitten (cat bites, for example, can infect you with pasteurella, which, if untreated, could mean amputation) or stepping on a possibly rusted piece of metal that breaks the skin (ooh, tetanus!). Waiting too long to seek treatment can make recovery a foregone conclusion. My mom waited until it was really too late to ask to be taken to the hospital for her flu; her body, already weakened by the renal cancer for which she had been treated for about six years, gave out by the time the week ended.

Now I'm dealing with the lingering stubbornness of the same brother who refuses to get a cell phone, but this time because he refuses to be vaccinated against covid-19, insisting, essentially, that since he's been around the unwashed masses all this time and hasn't gotten sick, he must be immune.

My brother is no idiot, though he often maintains that he is. He's a very talented photographer and storyteller, and could probably make a living at either. He's wily and has good business sense. He didn't have the advantage I had of a college education, but he certainly learned a lot in the school of hard knocks. For the most part, his common sense is stellar.

But when it comes to covid-19, well, not so much.

My theory, in answer to a post on what we learned from the first covid "scare" (his scare quotes, not mine): "I learned the youngest of my three older brothers might be a little scared of needles (otherwise, why refuse?). Is it because of the mean nurse at Dr. Woods' office when we were kids? They don't give you the shot in your butt, so sitting down shouldn't be a worry."

Like others who refuse to get the vaccination (many for political reasons, probably the worst reasons not to get the shots), he often brings up the death rate. But the death rate, which changes over time and conditions, isn't the only thing that matters here. At the moment, the vast majority of the confirmed covid-19 deaths in the U.S. (99 percent in May, according to the CDC) are among the unvaccinated.

While there are breakthrough cases of covid, especially of the more contagious Delta variant, after vaccination (North Carolina pastor, author and blogger John Pavlovitz and his family are a notable example), most of those vaccinated are being spared the worst effects of the virus and, hopefully, the lifelong health problems many survivors have to face.

I love my home state and its people, but it's become increasingly obvious that too many have let politics and/or crackpot theories infect their every decision, right down to what medical precautions to take. I prefer to err on the side of caution, with good (and simple) reason.

My immunity and respiratory system could be better, and I know many people who are immunocompromised, which is a problem considering the low vaccination rate in the state. Therefore, even though I'm vaccinated, I will continue to wear a mask in public for the foreseeable future because I don't want to give a virus an easy mark. Some may call that fear, but a lot more call it a smart survival instinct, not unlike buckling up in a car ... especially if your crazy cousin is at the wheel.

The more unvaccinated and unmasked people we have, the more chances there are for the virus to infect them and to mutate further every time it multiplies. More unprotected bodies means more respiratory systems to attack, and more body bags or lifelong impairments.

But when you have more vaccinated people and people wearing masks (vaccinated or unvaccinated) than the unprotected, the virus will have nowhere hospitable to go and will starve and die.

I don't often wish for something to die, but I'll make an exception in this case. And I really hope it does before it ever contemplates infecting my stubborn unvaccinated brother.

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at Email her at

Print Headline: As a mule


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