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Make no mistake — herd immunity is a thing to be avoided.

The term “herd immunity” is a strange amalgam of livestock management theory, wishful think-tanking and a distortion of the Charles Darwin’s 1859 tome. Currently, the American Institute for Economic Research, concerned and partnered with financial goliaths like the Kock family, have taken Darwin’s “On The Origin of The Species” out for a mythical voyage, contorting the Beagle expedition. Darwin was a founder of the idea of evolution in the biology of living things, observing that creatures evolved over generations through diversity and adaptation. This concept was not meant to be — as many with questionable motives have rationalized through history — a mission statement asserting that only the strongest and best humans should survive.

In this instance, AIER suggests that younger and healthier people enter back into the work force, school, shopping, eating and drinking establishments, allowing a “compassionate” return and thereby naturally weather the ill effects of this virus and then the development of an immune response. We can infer from this, that perhaps, some may even already have partial or complete immunity to this disease. The principle idea here is that the young are not at great risk — of dying.

Hey, parents of America, you want to roll those dice? OK. Oh, and what of those younguns coming into contact with others? Masks are not magic. They don’t encapsulate us from harm. They don’t make us into bubble boys and girls. Even if those at greater vulnerability sequester and protect themselves, contact could happen.

The AIER is concerned primarily with the economy, and yes, this is very important. But what sort of economy will we have with the hospitals overloaded and the world crippled with looming death of those from all age groups? Young people have died from this illness that currently has no cure. Still, the AIER call this approach “focused protection.” Many men and women of scientific science (as opposed to political science) have refuted this, pointing to examples of the epidemic spreading on many a college campus as well as other instances. Dr. Dora Ann Mills, former Director of Public Health in Maine, now working for the largest health system in the state, posted the following rebuttal: “[I]llness and death are not ways to achieve herd immunity; vaccine is. In fact, illness and death will not achieve herd immunity as the virus will continue to circulate.”

Herd immunity is a striking example of random evolution right before our eyes. It’s what happens in a worst-case scenario. It means that many will die or live with terrible afflictions. Trump wants to push this as an agenda. The so-called Great Barrington Declaration is something penned by the AIER, a libertarian think tank, and it has impugned the entire town of Great Barrington in this submission. This well-funded group is housed high on a hill in Great Barrington off of Division Street. They should call their declaration, which flies in the face of The World Health Organization’s informational warnings, the Division Street Diatribe.

In trying to hawk this sale, Trump misspoke or perhaps had a Freudian-style slip of his ever-wagging tongue, at one point referring to this dubious theory as “herd mentality,” which is spot-on, since to utilize this approach to a plague would be as if we were a herd of lemmings heading toward a precipice.

To contend that herd immunity will protect you from COVID-19 is akin to believing that being infected with Polio in the pre-vaccine era would have been acceptable. That would not be survival of the fittest, but of the most random, which is not the evolution to embrace. We should leaning toward the natural selection of our own informed, disciplined adaptation. Human beings can alter our choices and better survive this challenge. Our contribution to natural selection is in the development of therapeutic interventions, treatments, cures and hopefully preventive agents that guard against this and other new infections. If we fail at this, our mutually assured destruction is the future for many of our population.

Until that time, adaptation means cooperating by changing our outer appearance the way the walking stick bug and other phasmatodea insects disguise themselves as part of a branch. If it means altering our social behavior and preferences the way the Canadian lynx climbs higher into the mountains to have less competition for the snow shoe hares, let’s have at it.

All of Berkshire County, including the currently tarnished town of Great Barrington, need to support the science of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and Dr. Anthony Fauci and not bluster put forth by an elite, self-serving economic group. Why not come out with a Berkshire County Constitution, eclipsing AIER’s declaration?

Something on the order of: We the people of Berkshire County, in order to form a more perfect union, establish the need to abide by science not influenced by the economic demands of the elite. We shall use substantive mental and scientific resources to survive this and other challenges by encouraging our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers to do the same so that we shall not perish from the Earth. This includes taking care of our planet. Amen. Namaste. Shalom. Salaam. Aloha.

Even if you’ve heard it all before, it bears repeating. Herd immunity means giving up, leaving our freedom to make good choices to fate. We humans are capable of the highest level of resourcefulness. This is the mentality of our species to practice and celebrate.

Melissa E. Mishcon is a

psychotherapist who lives and practices in Great Barrington.


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