It’s easy to ask how they could have been so wrong.
But there was a time when many people were convinced the Earth was flat. And that slavery was a good idea. And that women should never enter a polling booth.
Folks with those beliefs surely felt they were in the right. Nor were they willing to give up the proverbial ghost without a fight.
Take the matter of slavery. Strong views on that matter helped split our nation in half. A resulting Civil War prematurely ended more than 750,000 lives, including President Lincoln’s.
Of the stakes in that dispute, Lincoln had this to say at Gettysburg: “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
While the context has changed, such sentiment endures. For in some ways, we are now involved in a different kind of civil war. This modern-day battle pits those in favor of COVID-19 vaccinations against those who remain opposed.
There is little doubt about where our current president stands on the issue. On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that vaccinations will be required for all who work in Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities.
Industry leaders quickly praised the move, yet many operators are less than thrilled. It’s a safe bet that more than a few of their workers will opt for jobs elsewhere.
While I happen to favor this requirement, I also have empathy for those who do not.
Truth be told, nobody really knows if current vaccines might eventually cause harmful side effects. Any person claiming there is no risk is either naïve or foolish. Certainly, there is no shortage of federally approved treatments that were later pulled.
Moreover, many of those opposed might have some pretty good reasons for distrusting the government.
Yes, one camp will likely be proven wrong, eventually. And future generations may laugh at how clueless its members were.
Just don’t be so sure it will be the other guys.
John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s