My recent post about lying via omission to maintain the social contract and my sanity has me thinking about all the ways I have to be less honest than I’d like, specifically when it’s for the benefit of my children, who, ironically, I do want to raise to be honest people. This week, it took the form of spending two hours at the local county health department claiming a religious exemption for their vaccinations, despite being an atheist.
Of course, being an atheist (while still being Jew-“ish”) is a form of religious belief. After all, freedom of religion includes freedom from religion, and religion is really a form of organized philosophy. And philosophically, I completely and fundamentally disagree with the government telling me what to do with my body, and, as an extension, my children’s bodies. So, I suppose, an atheist claiming a religious objection to (or exemption from) something isn’t quite as ironic as it sounds at first, but then again I may simply be justifying my actions, something I often fight the impulse to do despite how much I tell myself I really don’t care what other people think.
So last Thursday, I got “the call” from our elementary school: your kids aren’t up to date on their vaccines, and we need a county religious exemption form for them to stay in school. Ok. So, off to the county health department I went. This building, well-maintained and clean as it may be, makes my skin crawl because it’s full of sick people, and I feel like I’m going to catch dysentery in the parking lot and Ebola in the waiting room. Don’t get me wrong. I’m really, really glad the building is there and that its offices are able to provide all sorts of social and medical services to our community. The Department of Health fills a very important role in our society, and I’m grateful they’re around. It’s just that, if most people’s immune systems are Honda CR-Vs, mine’s a wheelbarrow. So, walking into a building where there are definitely a lot of germy people is not my idea of a fun or intelligent way to spend my afternoon. (more…)