Short Supply: The Pandemic Vaccine and Other Resources

The reports of Covid-19 vaccine shortages are increasing. There is much anxiety and frustration in the U.S. about supply and distribution. England seems to be doing ok but some countries in the European Union are experiencing shortages (while others seem to be doing ok). China has their own vaccine, as does Russia. India is reported to be doing well with vaccinating its citizens.

But then there are the “undeveloped” countries in Africa and Latin America. We haven’t heard much about Latin America except that the deaths in parts of Brazil are overwhelming the “system.” How is Mexico doing? How about Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile,….? And Africa? We hear that South Africa is not doing well. (Or is it the region of Southern Africa?) How about central Africa, west Africa, the entire continent? How about Egypt? How about the Mideast? Many people need to be vaccinated in order to create a herd immunity or all of the vaccines are in vain, or so we’re told.

The situation with the vaccines is a microcosm of what is happening with other resources. The western nations, including the United States and Japan, Australia, etc are doing well with supply. Once again (to paraphrase the commercial about dads), the poor countries get hosed.

The “once again” is where my major concern lies. It is also the focus of many who step back and look at our current world wide situation in terms of essential resources. Those resources are food, water and housing. Our experience of being overrun by refugees is a major result of these shortages. The United States is dealing with refugees from Latin America, especially Guatemala and Mexico. Europe is seeing a huge influx of refugees from Syria and other parts of the Mideast. Supposedly this has to do with gang violence in the Latin American refugees and with the results of war in the Mideast. But it is also about the scarcity of essential resources.

The shortage of essential resources that we experience now is only going to get worse. The extremely poor will look at the wealth of the developed nations and surge forward to quench their needs. We are both blessed and cursed. We are momentarily blessed in our wealth and abundance. We are cursed in not sharing with the poor. This can be seen in the microcosm of national life. Those of the “one percent” in the United States, Europe, China and Japan hoard their wealth and strive to gather even more. We of the “middle class” do the same. Meanwhile, the starving, the thirsty and the unhoused search desperately for relief.

Much of our current situation, both domestically and internationally, is related to our ignoring the crisis of environmental pollution and global warming. Storms are becoming more severe. Weather conditions are increasingly extreme. There are fires that lead to torrential rains and mudslides, colder and more dangerous winter storms, stronger hurricanes and so much more. The ocean waters are warming and rising. And all of this is a major contributor to the shortages of housing, poor, water and the increasing number of pandemics. Many believe that we will see more pandemics as climate conditions worsen.

Will the deaths caused by the pandemic change some of this by decreasing the global population? Possibly. Is that the hope of the decision makers? (I have a bit of the conspiracy theorist in me.) Possibly. But it or any of the current “solutions” just lead to greater and greater suffering. How long can we hide behind our gates and fences, either those that are real for the very wealthy or those that are geographical for the great majority of we who are wealthy compared to all the peoples of the world? We have natural barriers of oceans, rivers and mountains. We have artificial barriers of walls. I suspect we will not be able to escape the calamity of either the current pandemic or the situation of which it is only a symptom, the global crisis from climate change.

“The answers my friends are blowing in the wind.” (We just watched a Bob Dylan documentary the other evening.) No, the answer is right in front of us, as the song points out. The answer is to share our wealth. The models are those who have had the courage to step out and actually live the realization that all of “this,” all of our “stuff,” is in the end, paradoxically, nothing. But it takes a lot of courage and trust to be a Mother Teresa, a Mahatma Ghandi, a St Francis, a Jesus or a Buddha.

Let us pray that we see the light and gain the wisdom soon. My better side says this with hope. My pessimistic side says this is a foolish, futile hope….unless, of course, we humans, in our great capacity to find solutions, find one other than shedding our wealth, that lets us escape the coming disaster.

About Jerry

Catechumenate ministry is my passion. I have been involved in the catechumenate since 1980 in both the Roman Catholic and Episcopal branches of the Church. I am a "progressive," ecumenical Christian who is realistic enough to know that the Church has never been "One"; is often not "Holy"; strives to be "Catholic" and is "Apostolic" only when members respect the Tradition rather than the latest customs. I have been fortunate to be able to focus on various elements of philosophy, theology and Christian history during my studies. I am able to bring them all to bear in catechumenate ministry.
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