Original Publish Date: September 7, 2021
“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” – Graham Greene
When Art and Life Collide
In the final act of Leoš Janáček’s Czech opera Její pastorkyna, the body of a baby appears under the melting spring ice, disrupting the wedding of Laca and Jenufa. The nineteenth century Moravian village responds by punishing Jenufa’s stepmother, Kostelnica, for her heinous crime of infanticide. This tragic yet fitting end to Kostelnica, while seemingly boorish, serves as a reminder that within this small Central European village, there was a moral compass.
The historical frequency of infanticide is disturbing yet well documented. Writings before the fourth century include hundreds of references to infanticide of both legitimate and illegitimate children, actions that did not violate the law or public opinion. The fate of these children included river drowning, tossed into trenches or just left on the roadside or in the wilderness. Between the fourth and thirteenth centuries children faced institutional abandonment for months or even years, and the sale of children endured lawfully in Europe until the nineteenth century.
Along the way enlightenment in seventeenth century Europe shifted the child’s role. Adults recognized children were separate entities, albeit innocent, yet still in need of protection and education in society. While the child’s historical path has not always been linear, today social media replaced coal mines, and modern day’s version of enlightenment combines over-protection with a touch of self-entitlement, many of whom apprentice under the influence of an influencer.
A Modern Day Tragedy
The proliferation of information on the Internet perpetuates the existence of modern-day infanticide, complete with children locked in cages for extended periods of time while others become the critical resource in a theoretical adrenochrome harvesting cottage industry. As the frequency of such actions remains cloaked in a dark cloud, it may be more disturbing that society has accused the “global elites” of producing the chemical adrenochrome than whether or not such practices are actually confirmed. The conviction of those who deny such practices exist is comparable to those who take up arms to ensure it ends.
What remains lost in between is whether the nation’s moral compass needs repair or can even be found. Effectively secluding children indoors for almost two years and no physical interaction with friends or teachers may not have been enough, especially since the Federal Government approved injecting children ages five through twelve with the functional equivalent of a modern-day bogey man. Mandating or even suggesting children within this age range vaccinate is wrong, although for reasons that have no nexus to the efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine whatsoever.
What We Know About COVID
While a complete understanding of the virus blamed for this global pandemic may be years away, since March 2020 when the World Health Organization declared it such, a few basic tenets endured: (1) the effect of COVID on children is exponentially less severe than how the virus threatens adults; and (2) childhood trauma is very real, at least according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (“DSM-5”), 309.81. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) in children older than six years can occur in one or more of the following ways: (1) directly experiencing the traumatic event(s); (2) witnessing a traumatic event experienced by others; (3) learning of a traumatic event to a close family member or friend; (4) experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s). In children six year and younger, onset of PTSD is similar, although it can manifest itself through ordinary childhood play and activities.
In the general sense, PTSD can consume the child and alter his or her relationship with reality. Due to the subjective nature of any mental disorder, future manifestation is often unknown. Proactive measures to avoid such a threat may be as simple as attempts to elude the traumatic event, or in the alternative, measures to insulate the child from the ongoing event as best as possible.
What We Know About COVID and Children
Since the early days of the pandemic, health care practitioners reported that children were less susceptible to the dangerous effects from COVID. Of the 6 million children who contracted COVID in the United States, 64,000 were hospitalized and 650 died. Twenty one months into the pandemic, COVID’s mortality rate in children is 0.01%, a statistic comparable to hand, foot and mouth disease in children under the age of 5 and right in between Varicella, also known as chickenpox (0.001%), and Influenza A (less than 0.1%). This assessment has remained consistent even as health care’s understanding of and approach to COVID changed dramatically over time. Even the vaccine itself, the science of which appears sound and effective, has been forced to evolve and mutate, including the number of necessary doses for protection to limitations in stopping transmission of the virus between vaccinated individuals.
Vaccination By Moral Compass
Like it or not, the vaccine exists today at the pandemic’s epicenter while creating a deep divide within society. Those both in support of the vaccine and against it may wish to focus on the long term risks this inherent societal disconnect has set in motion, and as it relates to children, that it may be far more dangerous than (a) facing the virus without a vaccine or (b) embracing risk through vaccination. While focus on the possibility that children may be spreading the pandemic unknowingly is a reasonable concern, the answer will probably arrive when the state and federal governments provide some guidance in the actual intent of religious exemptions to other vaccine-related mandates.
Society’s moral compass points to protecting its children in the broadest sense of the word. This includes directing focus away from whether or not the vaccine is safe for children and in the direction of whether or not the children are safe in the eye of the vaccine. This is not the door society should hold open through which young children pass. Gone are the days of tossing children into harm’s way, a lesson learned from an opera first performed in 1904. In the end, Jenufa forgives her stepmother, but assumes Laca will leave her. To the contrary, even in this operatic tragedy love prevails, and Laca does not forsake his bride-to-be.
Jenufa’s story, however, is fictional. The decisions society makes today may have effects lasting over decades. While the decisions of an individual family is neither the business nor the concern of the author, this is merely a request to consider possible consequences, good or bad, and a reminder to use a moral compass.
Craig Garner is the founder of Garner Health Law Corporation, as well as a healthcare consultant specializing in issues pertaining to modern American healthcare. Craig is also an adjunct professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.