By Joe Rector

Well, evidently, the more things change, the more they stay the same is a true statement. Our world seems to take one step forward and two steps backward. The US is having a bit of trouble gaining its footing in so many areas. Sometimes I wonder if we can survive the turmoil.

For the last 20 years, this country has fought a war in Afghanistan. During that time, we’ve sent thousands of soldiers to fight, and too many young men have come back either seriously wounded, mentally scarred, or dead. I understand the beginning of that dispute was to find and destroy the persons responsible for the 9/11 attack. I also know that another goal was to stop the spread of terrorism that had its base that country.

First President Trump announced the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, and then President Biden reiterated the end of US involvement. As troops withdrew, the Taliban swooped in to fill the void, and they did so with increasing violence and cruelty. Everyone seemed surprised at the speed with which they moved and established themselves.

Some people have complained that we deserted allies. Some people have said we failed to keep our promises to that country. I wonder how long the US is supposed to remain in a place where their actions have had such weak results. Afghanistan is no different than it was hundreds of years ago. They are driven by violence against each other. The war lords and Taliban have patiently waited for 20 years until America decided enough was enough. Not deaths of innocent people and US troops have made much of a difference for the country. Reports tell of many of the three hundred thousand troops deserting or joining the Taliban in its takeover. The trillions of dollars spent by the US has done little to change things. The fact remains that no amount of money or involvement can or will change a culture that lives on the edges of barbarianism. We can’t remake Afghanistan into a democracy when its people are used to a different type of life.

In the 1950s and 60s, polio scared the hell out of parents and children alike. I remember pictures of children with braces on their legs or of indviduals swallowed by iron lungs. Polio was a disease that respected neither age nor sex nor race. It attacked anyone who dared to step in its path. We cheered with the development of a vaccine. Few children were excited about needles, but parents insisted that young people be immunized. Folks stood in long lines for hours to receive the vaccine when it was put into  sugar cubes. Army inductees didn’t make a fuss when they were lined up for several vaccines that were administered in both arms. It was their duty to receive the shots so that they could protect themselves and serve their country.

Today, millions of Americans refuse to take a single vaccine that will protect them from the Covid-19 pandemic. The people aren’t sure of the effects from the shots, nor are they so sure that the stuff doesn’t put them at risk to something else. They claim their rights to refuse the vaccine, even as news accounts describe another strain that might well shut our country down again.

As for those people and their rights, I say theirs end where mine begin. My grandson has done everything he’s been asked to protect himself and his family from Covid. Yet, one of his friends tested positive, Madden has been around him, and he might be quarantined or required to complete more school at his home. It should be evident to all by now that this killer isn’t going away until we do our parts to send it packing. That means listening to science, not conspiracy theories, and taking the vaccine. In no time at all, the spread of the disease will stop, and all of our lives will be much better.

I appreciate the concerns of people about the vaccine. It was developed so quickly that it seems impossible. However, it’s proven affective against this modern-day plague; the ones in health trouble now are folks who didn’t take the shots or whose children are exposed and vulnerable now. Throughout the existence of the US, citizens have always answered the call to action. Right now, it is the duty of each person to be vaccinated. Don’t worry about microchips or poisons or tracking devices. Just know that your small choice to take a shot can save the US and its way of life. Are we patriotic enough to do it?