Today the California Senate passed one of the strictest school vaccination laws in the nation, SB277, removing the personal belief exemption for childhood vaccinations. Starting in July 2016, all children entering public or private school will be required to show proof of vaccinations.
If this legislation had passed four months ago, I would have been livid. At that time, I had just learned about the proposed law and I was very angry that my knowing, based on an informed process of observation and study over the course of a lifetime, would be "denied" and a law would force me to go against that knowing. I felt severely violated, and frankly, having heard 1,000s of mothers whose children were harmed, paralyzed or even eventually killed by vaccinations, I was freaked out. (No, I don't need "scientific" proof of what happened to these children; their mothers' knowing is proof enough for me.)
No one was going to force me to "care for" my child's body in a way that I felt would actually cause harm. Would we move to Sweden, my husband's native country, since its government is less influenced by corrupt industry? Where could we go where our choice would be honored?
I knew we could continue to empower extraordinary well being in our daughter. So why was I so angry? Major ego check here: because I felt I was right. And I wanted to "show" the world that my perspective about the pharmaceutical industry's influence on the media, medical profession and U.S. government, was right. And that felt yucky. Still I persevered, because something about it felt worthwhile. And it was. Until the day I decided not to. One day, after feeling defensive and "charged" about the issue for weeks, I accepted that my state of mind played a significant role in the situation. This whole conversation was about creating resilience in our children's immune systems. Was I creating resilience in my own immune system, in my own well being, when I was carrying around such irritability and distaste? Quite the opposite.
On that day I let go of being right, and I chose instead to be happy. We knew our decisions were based in love, moral goodness and well-being. There was no reason to be upset.
Today I can feel the anger rippling through my social webs as the news gets out about this law. Parents who planned to send their children to school, some with immunocompromised children whose bodies can't tolerate vaccinations, are really pissed off. I can relate; I felt that way too. (And if I ever tell you how to feel, please pinch me gently. Feelings are a high form of intelligence. They all have value.)
The beauty of the human experience is that we get to choose. Do we want to be right or do we want to be happy?
Happiness doesn't come from feeling right. Peace of mind stems from being aligned with our values in life, and this does not mean we need to convince other people that our way is the right way. In this human experience, there isn't one right way.
At least two gay couples I know and deeply respect, one male and one female couple, had illuminatingly inspiring, committed partnerships for many years before gay marriage become legal last week. Though they celebrated the equal rights vote and all it symbolized, they refused to let political laws have power over the one law that's real: the law of love. They loved each other, they enjoyed their lives, they lived together, they shared fun and fulfilling experiences.
Does empowerment come from the "outside" world or from within us? This vaccination law does not have power over anyone. Whether that leads families to choose homeschooling (or unschooling, which I like to call customized education) as a way to honor their values about medical choice and parental rights, or something else, there is a way. We may not see it now, but we have to believe it and then we will see it.
For those up for a rigorous spiritual shift, like the shifts my daughter consistently invites me to undertake, I challenge parents who feel imprisoned by this law to take a curious stance. What is possible now? How do I want to direct my energy? How does this not have power over me and my family? If I am afraid home schooling isn't an option for me, am I willing to see that differently, to open my mind to new possibilities appearing on my path?
As I wrote on Facebook earlier today--> The "mandatory" vaccination bill passes, and once again the world pretends to have power over us and our choices. Not! More home/un-schooling playmates for us! While I have great compassion for those who feel devastated by this news, I know that it is possible to transmute anger and related emotions, as I have done it myself in the past 4 months regarding this issue. Our state of mind is not determined by what happens in life, it is determined by how we are with it."
The world out there" does NOT have power over us. Our inner wisdom and our values, joy and knowing can and will light the way to a far more fascinating "reality" when we allow them to. We allow this when we listen, when we tune out the "noise" and tune in to the deepest, clearest voice inside ourselves -- our inner wisdom.
Rest assured, dear friends, there is a movement of mothers growing, a movement about honoring ourselves as women and guardians of our children's well being. (Yes fathers, you too.) And this movement won't thrive because we are right, or because something needs to be fixed. It will thrive because we are willing to honor our intuition, our findings (whether "proven" scientifically or not), and our tremendous sense of love for our children.
May this movement of mothers who listen within, and honor our voices, rise up and be heard. May we refuse to suppress what we know. May we celebrate and revere the deep, primal wisdom we offer our children. May all children thrive!
Our free recording for November is here! Listen to The Spirit of Waldorf Education and Tips for Parents, our 55-minute interview of Education Director Shannon O'Laughlin, here.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a mother, coach, lifelong letter writer, and eternally a fan of Fred Rogers. This deeply personal blog and our free recorded conversations are devoted to one of her greatest passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.