Note: This post, shared in its entirety on multiple Facebook pages, was updated on 11/6/16
When it comes to this issue, we are often asked: “What can we do?” So here it is, the most powerful thing can actually be done in the privacy of our own living rooms and our own minds. Hold space for the idea that vaccination choice is a human right. Yes, you heard me right. Feel it, believe it, inhabit it, cherish it. Scroll down for more details on what it means to hold space. And then look up the meaning of morphic resonance. It’s a kind of collective human memory that gets spread around and passed down. It’s why a single, quiet, even private, action with great intention can have a vibration, a reverb, a resonance that ripples outward. It’s related to the Hundredth Monkey phenomenon that brings about non-local or quantum effects in consciousness and learning. It’s pretty awesome stuff.
It has been an intentional labor of love, holding space for vaccination choice. Mandatory flu shots. Shots for maternity patients and baby’s visitors. The National Adult Immunization Plan. Vaccine literature for assisted living residents. Veterans to receive all CDC recommended vaccines. School-located vaccine clinics. Elimination of exemptions. There are many bills, programs, and newly enacted laws that are unfolding across the country.
What bills? Are there more?
Yes, a lot more. Reported on the NVIC Advocacy Portal as of today are 105 state and federal “Bills to Watch,” all related to vaccination.
Only 18 are labeled “Support,” because they advance parental consent, promote awareness about the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, prevent the health department from acting beyond state law, protect employees against mandatory vaccination policies, and add a personal belief exemption). One-third of these “Support” bills have died.
The vast majority (71 bills) are labeled “Oppose” because they seek to increase the number of mandated vaccines, eliminate or severely restrict exemptions, allow for vaccination of children as young as 12 without parental consent, streamline the mandate approval process, authorize government officials to allow persons to administer vaccines, and more.
Of particular note are the five federal bills related to vaccination:
- S.1203, Section 101 ensures that veterans receive all recommended ACIP vaccines
- HR 6 accelerates the discovery, development, and delivery of 21st century cures
- HR 2232 is the Vaccine All Children Act of 2015
- HR 933 and S.486 is the Head Start on Vaccinations Act
- S.1921 is the Vaccinate America’s Children Through Complete Education and Information Act
It’s eye-opening. Take a peek.
I’m hearing anger and frustration, peppered with cynicism and fear, about this incursion of the personal and parental right to decide about vaccination. How can we keep this up? Is it hopeless? I have a deep commitment to this cause. I’ve repeatedly girded for battle and rallied the troops.
So now what?
How about trying love?
2015 was a tough year (scroll down to the 2015 media appearances links). The Disneyland measles PR pounding was followed by the loss of all parent-directed exemptions in California and the ending of philosophical exemptions in Vermont, plus a lot of venom directed against concerned parents.
I responded by going deep within, with a lot of prayer and meditation. Is it hard because I made it hard? Is my determination to change other people’s minds misguided? Maybe I was the one who needed to change. Could I go back to basics and remember why I was in this in the first place? Instead of bringing toughness and a steely resolve, how about trying… love?
At the point that I decided to lay down the sword and open my heart, another path magically opened up. Joined by soul sib activists including Kelly Brogan and Sayer Ji, I’m challenging ego attachments and tuning into a new Story of the People.
It’s time for a new “Story of the People”
A new Story of the People! It sounds hip and inviting, right? Meet the man whose ideas, I believe, bring coherence and consilience to the multitude of our various advocacies: Charles Eisenstein. I will briefly summarize what his phrase means but invite you to watch a 7 minute video and peek at this image. As I began reading his books and listening to him speak, the goosebumps started and they have not stopped. I felt such joy that I burst into tears. (How’s that for an endorsement?)
Eisenstein says that the world is built on a story — a set of answers about who we are, what’s important, where we are going, and how the world works. Old science has said that we exist as separate individuals in a universe that’s also separate from us. We must therefore conquer Nature and control hostile forces. Needless to say, it’s not working so well for us. There’s constant suffering and it’s becoming impossible to accept the prevailing narrative. It’s time for a new story about Interconnection (or “Interbeing” as coined by Thich Nhat Hanh) that’s supported by the new science. The answer, the alternative, is to give people an experience that doesn’t fit the old story, i.e., generosity, forgiveness, and yes, love… acts that disrupt the psychic substructure of the mythology. In so doing, we step into the flow of synchronicity… where each of us will have the opportunity to engage that will be just at the end of our courage but not past it.
My heart shouts: YES! Here are some of my latest thoughts as I consider our work with new eyes and ears.
Watch the ripple
When I take time to quiet the raging mind and tame my anger through meditation, I’m able to shift my perceptions. Let’s review more closely what happened in California.
SB 277 passed. We lost. The deck was stacked. They lied. I was incredulous and devastated. I bristled at the media coverage. But perhaps I was focused on the wrong things. I remembered watching every minute of the live streamed hearings and testimony. At the time, I knew that something extraordinary and momentous was happening and it blew me away. Many, many thousands — from every part of the state and across all walks of life, some accompanied by their children, some vaccine-injured — made their way to Sacramento and waited hours on line, into the night, for the opportunity to step up to the microphone, on the public record, and state their names and their strong and sincere opposition to the bill.
This is occurring on a smaller scale in other states, too. With almost no public notice, over 400 individuals traveled to Trenton last year to protest a bill that severely weakens New Jersey’s religious exemption to mandatory vaccination. They weren’t expecting us… it was standing room only with over 150 directed to an overflow room and denied the opportunity to testify. Legislators know that hundreds of people mean thousands of supporters, and thousands mean hundreds of thousands and more.
The ripple effects of this incredible display of civic responsibility continue to emanate outwards. It is powerful. Eisenstein says that every act undertaken in the understanding of Interconnection is both a spiritual and a political act. The ripple is all around us. It’s flow and each of us is connected to it. Rather than trying to harness and control it, I try to just watch… meditate… feel… marvel… and above all, open, open, open to it. And I have been amazed. How could I have missed it? There are allies and synchronicities everywhere. This work doesn’t feel so hard anymore. It feels beautiful.
Don’t enter another person’s will
I’m often asked these kinds of questions:
- My pregnant sister is getting a flu shot. What can I tell her to make her stop?
- Is it true that I’m bringing back deadly diseases if I don’t vaccinate my children?
- What are the safest shots to get?
- How can we stop this insanity? Where are the lawyers?
- What should I say to my doctor who will kick us out of his practice if we don’t vaccinate?
I love being right. Sigh. Ask me questions… I have answers! I have formatted FAQs and PowerPoint presentations! But here’s what I’ve figured out. I do not have to be right. I do not even need to say anything. The “V conversation” is not for everyone. Hmmmm. This is tough for me and I still need to breathe through it. I must allow people to have their own journey. Even if I love them very, very much. Even if they make me very, very angry. Even if I assume they are very, very wrong.
Just because I mean well doesn’t make it any less of an ego trip… to imagine that I know what is right for another… to presuppose that I can (or should) change someone’s mind… to attempt to engineer the unfoldment of something as huge as this controversy (which is actually a small part of something even larger).
I am not, however, saying that I can do nothing.
Hold space for vaccination choice
This is quite possibly the most important thing I can do. Not familiar with the expression? It is about consciousness. It means:
- to stay engaged and present;
- to be responsible for myself;
- to bear anguish, pain, and joy — mine and others’ — with acceptance;
- to let go of judgment;
- to enfold my truth in my heart as if it was reality (because I believe it is); and
- to carry myself on that high frequency with everyone in my life.
This is not some kind of pollyanna-ish delusion. The shift is already happening. In fact, I am convinced it has already happened. It just takes time to manifest on the physical (and therefore political) plane. When I hold space, I am in alignment with my values and beliefs, and I actively send energy out into the world in support of this truth.
A word about anger
What’s wrong with anger? It sure feels more constructive than curling up in a fetal position. Here’s the problem with it. Perhaps you’re like me; anger explodes from my liver straight to my mind and I start to overthink everything. It becomes all about proving I’m right. Suddenly, I find myself handing out 100-page packets of scientific studies, sending Chicken Little newsletters, fighting with friends, and writing strident commentaries on social media. Sigh.
Whatever I send out into the world multiplies and returns back to me. Unmastered anger creates karma through my unintended words and actions. This is why it is so critical to transform my vexation. What if I take this vibrant life force and channel it instead through my heart? I’m not going to find common ground and mutual understanding when I harden into my certainties and blast others with self-righteousness. It’s a choice. Do I marinate in memories that are seared by resentments and fears, injustices and tragedies? Or do I trust that profound shifts happen in the heart when there is a softening and an opening?
Messy but totally doable
If the shift has already happened, then why aren’t we winning? (Cue to tap fingers snappishly.) I will take a moment to smile at my impatience. Advocacy is not a pristine, linear process. Very little in life is. This is where faith comes in. What do you believe? Here are some of my truths:
- I am the ripple. I am powerful.
- Other is me. There is no distinction. When I lash out in anger, I hurt myself.
- The point is the journey. Finding my tribe, creating family, and doing this work feed my soul.
- If I stop obsessing about the outcome, I start asking what I can do.
- We are all spiritual beings on a spiritual path.
- I try to breathe through fear and act on the edge of my courage.
- It is not in spite of differences that change comes. It is because of them.
I still believe in citizen participation in the democratic process as a vehicle to express our heartfelt beliefs (as opposed to a reflexive obedience to externally constructed rules). With organization and coordination, parents working at the state level have a fighting chance. What happened in California last year was not a failure; it was one step in a much bigger process. Do I wish that we could get this thing done once and for all, and then exhale and go away? Yes. But it doesn’t work that way (it never has). I will hold space for a precious idea that vaccination choice is a human right.
Things have been shifting in the 11 months since I originally wrote this post. Our upcoming January event sold out this weekend, almost three months in advance. Nearly 400 parents and professionals have spoken. They want to embrace a new conversation and a new understanding about vaccination. There will be many more and bigger events.
If you like what you’re reading, sign on. We can heal ourselves, our families, and our world, too. We’re gearing up for community building and we’d love to hear from you. There’s more to come. In the meantime, please make your first gift of the new year to support our work. With your tax-deductible donation of $100, we’ll send you a copy of Charles Eisenstein’s book: The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. It’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read and it’s empowering (and joyful) reading for activists.
Hold space for vaccination choice. Parents are getting it done.
Louise Kuo Habakus is the founding director of Fearless Parent™, lead host and producer of Fearless Parent Radio™, and mom of two. She is a published author and runs the non-profits Center for Personal Rights and Health Freedom Action. Louise was a Bain consultant and a C-level executive in the financial services industry. She holds two degrees from Stanford University. She is an advisory board member of GreenMedInfo and The Documenting Hope Project.