Archive for the ‘World Events’ Category

The Pig Flu

Monday, October 26th, 2009

This flu shot thing has me in a quandary. My philosophy is that the farther you stay from doctors and hospitals, the less likely you are to get sick. We are generally a pretty healthy family.

When my children were small, I did take them for the mandatory vaccines, but while the oldest saw the pediatrician on a fairly regular schedule (he was the first child and weighed only four pounds when he was born,) the youngest got her shots from the health department (where they were free,) and didn’t see the doctor until she went for her school-ordered Kindergarten checkup. (Please don’t call Childrens’ Services. She’s 16 now, and she’s fine.)

I personally have not had a shot of any kind since I was 12. I’m…..older than that now, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt me. I get the occasional cold and I probably had the flu about five years ago, but that’s life. I’m way more afraid of getting Guillian-Barre Syndrome that of getting any kind of flu. I logically believe that it is very unlikely that any of us would have complications that would result in hospitalization, much less death.

But a friend of mine died. Not just someone far away on the news, an actual person who had been as healthy as the average middle-aged adult and thought he was going to stay home from work and play around on Facebook for a few days. I thought hard about that. My son called from college to say he had a fever and flu symptoms. He knew people who had H1N1. I tried not to worry about it, knowing that he would almost surely be fine even if he had it, but he is in Boston and I am in Ohio. What if he got really sick?

I finally decided that I won’t get a flu shot. There is a shortage, and there are people who will be seriously worried if they are denied a flu shot. I’m okay with taking my chances.

Power to the People

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

When I was in high school, my goal was to become a journalist. I loved writing, loved reporting, and wanted to save the world. My passion for the free press overwhelmed me. I couldn’t wait to get through college and start setting the world on fire with my in-depth articles, my investigative breakthroughs, my timely insights.

But I didn’t settle into college well, and I quit. I came home and applied for a job at the local newspaper and was told that they only hired reporters with college degrees. Goodbye, journalism!

I went on to other things, settled into raising a family, worked on saving the world in other ways. After a while I lost interest in being a journalist. But the one thing that I never lost interest in is freedom of the press. The freedom of journalists or individuals to write about whatever they choose, to give opinions about government, business, politicians, or whatever else comes to mind, to shine light into dark corners and ferret out dirty secrets, keeps all of us free. Information is power, and the free press brings information to anyone who can read or listen.

In the busyness of life, I haven’t taken time lately to think much about the press, except to mourn the thinning of my daily papers and the demise of those in other cities. This week, that changed. Iran elected a new president, the people rose up in protest, and suddenly information became vital. And a most exciting thing occurred. The people of the world joined together spontaneously to assure the flow of information into and out of Iran.

While I wasn’t paying attention, the world changed radically. Journalists, newspapers, TV networks-none of these were instrumental in moving information this week. Individual people did it. Twitter and Facebook and computer networks and cell phones all played a part. People worked together, without much direction, without an overall plan, to keep information flowing to and from the people of Iran even as the Iranian government worked to plug up leaks. But you can only plug so many leaks. When every individual with a cell phone or computer has the power to reach the entire world, the light will continue to shine in the dark corners. The power of the press has now truly become the power of the people.