Happy Darwin Day!
Today is the birthday of Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species
, a day to promote science and "the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth".
About 150 years ago, give or take, Darwin wrote a book about how animals better suited to their habitat are more likely to survive and have lots of babies, and pass on to those babies the traits which make them better suited to that environment, and so forth. Like Newton telling the world, "Oh, by the way, gravity," or Ellen DeGeneres telling the world, "Oh, by the way, I'm gay," this probably should have been one of those, "Oh, yeah, I see it now" moments, because hadn't humans been intentionally breeding plants and animals for certain traits for ages? (Yes.
Alas, if only it were that easy. Anyway.
I admit that I cheated a bit and celebrated this one early.
As a younger mokie, no matter how often I was sent to play with, and later babysit, poxy neighbor kids and relatives, I didn't catch their dirty germs. I was pretty sure I'd had the MMR - wasn't it required for public school students when I was a kid? And didn't boosters go around when I was in high school? Maybe? I think? But I had no paperwork to confirm it, and that was many, many years ago, back when we still believed in science. And even if I had, I still had no protection against the chicken pox - that vaccine was too new.
The older I got without catching anything itchy and spotty the old-fashioned way, the more the family and I worried, because the risk of complications is significantly higher for adults.
So lo, here I was, an unpoxed adult in the 21st century, listening to horror stories about the return of illnesses that killed pioneer babies, and all because some affluent white hipsters thought they knew more about science than doctors, and were more afraid of the completely fabricated risk of getting autism from a vaccine, or a one-in-eleventybillion chance of an adverse reaction, than about the very real risk of complications from a totally preventable illness to babies too young to vaccinate, kids with cancer or impaired immune systems, etc. - you know, the kids that herd immunity is actually
supposed to protect. But fuck those kids. Those are other people's kids. Right?Sigh.
Do we want to poke at the paranoia and callousness that says autism is so bad, it's better if other people risk death
kid faces the imaginary risk of it? The issues of disenfranchisement
of the autistic
that go along with that line of thought? The convoluted conspiracy theories developed by people so removed from and protected against severe illness their whole lives
that they had to make up secret conspiracies to foist wellness
on them? How about the asshole anti-vax quack in Arizona
who presented his stance as an issue of Darwinism, because some kids are supposed
to die, as long as it's not his
You want a conspiracy? Try $300 for an adult vaccination against the chicken pox. As I steeled myself to get the jab and get it over with, to adapt myself to my environment before it could take me out, I brought the topic of chicken pox up with my mother. "Oh, you had that."
One day, when I was about seven years old, I suddenly developed what looked like full-body freckles. No fever, no itching, no raised areas, no symptoms at all besides freaky freckles that had disappeared by the next day. My mother called her friend over, and the two poked spots and puzzled over them, but it was a mystery. The friend's kids had the chicken pox at that time (something I didn't find out until this conversation), because they were going around (ditto), but they had broken out in a few itchy spots at a time until they were covered - nothing like my sudden unitchy bloom. It was like I'd somehow managed to get the chicken pox backwards. Thank you, super-paranoid immune system!
Finally, my allergies serve a purpose!
So then why did I have to spend so much time with other people's miserable children in later years?
"Just in case."
Ladies, gentlemen, my family. Evolution won't catch us sleeping.
* A reference to this, which is taken apart here.