It’s now been fifty years that I have advocated for the joy of family and the importance of family as the foundation of a healthy society.

It is past time for me to share my thoughts about what I believe to be the greatest existential threat to family life that I have seen in my lifetime.

And that threat is the conscience-wrenching question, “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate my child?”

But before I share my thoughts, I want to give you a short tour of my experiences, so that you may take my observations and conclusions to heart.

I grew up in a beautiful mansion, went to the best schools, and went to a different part of the world by steamship each summer with my parents. It sounds idyllic, but there were challenges. Both parents suffered from alcoholism. But they were very good people and did their best.

At the age of ten, I was invited to join in a dance being performed by students my age at a geisha school in Japan.

At nine I had got my first kiss, on the cheek, from a twelve-year-old boy onboard our ship, off the coast of Peru. Wow, did my parents give me trouble for that!

Another time, I met a boy whose father was a Dutch businessman and whose mother was a native Filipino. They felt they had to leave Marcos’ Philippines, so my new friend was sailing to the Netherlands for the first time in his life.

I played shipboard ping-pong with a Swedish boy who was returning home after a year at school in the U.S. He was proud of his Boss suit and his English. He threw his pack of cigarettes overboard when I told him it wasn’t a healthy habit. My dad was a doctor.

I watched kids herding goats on a sun-drenched island in Greece.

I saw young Egyptian children come out to play after dark, when it was finally cool enough to be outdoors.

I watched Haitian girls carrying large baskets of cloth on their heads just like their mothers.

I saw children helping their parents manage shops in the Turkish bazaar in Istanbul.

I saw the luxurious marbled home of a wealthy family in Caracas, Venezuela,

and then we drove around the barrios in the hills above the city, where families lived in tiny tin-roofed homes which lined the unpaved streets. wet with rain.

I watched broad-smiling kids in Tahiti playing stick ball in the streets near the wharf in Papeete.

I have shared these scenes not to impress, but to pass on what I learned, so you can see how I came to believe that families around the world are more alike than different.

Back in school, my history teacher assigned us to write a report on a topic from American history. My mother, a sociologist, recommended I do mine on the history of the American family. I didn’t even know there was such a thing!

That got me started on appreciating what it means to have a family, or not.

I became a lawyer to learn the relationship of family to the rest of society, to government, church, school, corporation, hospital, and neighbor. I wanted to know where we stood.

After a few years of that, my husband and I tried our hand at living off the grid. We rebuilt a broken-down farmhouse in upper New York State. There we learned how simple are the basic needs of life.

I became an author and speaker on parenting when friends asked me for advice, saying “Randy, you two make it look so easy and rewarding.”

I learned from my audiences how challenging it was for most parents to adjust to the chronic stresses of modern American life. I was thankful we had started our family in the hinterlands!

I became active in the 12-Step recovery groups to learn how addiction affects families, including the family of my childhood.

I became a certified nutritionist to learn how to give us and our children the best chance at long, healthy lives.

I also earned a masters degree in theology to learn how my philosophy fit in to the history of thought about the meaning of human existence. There was disappointingly little about family.

So with this strangely diverse background, which has made me who I am, I want now to give my thoughts about the current issue of whether we should be giving our children the novel vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

I hope you can now appreciate that I may have a worthwhile and perhaps an unusual perspective which may be of value to you.

I see it as an existential issue because the inherent power of parents to raise their children as they believe best is being challenged.

But first let me mention that in law, as in philosophy, in politics, and in personal relationships as well, the person who frames the question, who characterizes the issue, usually gets the response she or he desires.


“You don’t want to go out tonight, do you?”


“How would you like to go out for a leisurely dinner at our favorite restaurant tonight?

So here is the question:

Should a parent get her or his child vaccinated against this new virus because the manufacturers of the vaccines and the government officials assure us they are safe and effective?

Or we can put it this way:

Should a parent volunteer to have someone stick a needle in their healthy child’s muscle tissue to deliver a new genetic modification agent which has been shown to offer a greater risk of immediate harm (with long-term effects unknown) than the virus itself, which for children and young adults has been shown to offer virtually zero risk of harm?

It is the parent’s choice.

In modern societies that are based on constitutions, no government has been given by its people the power to touch a child without the consent of her or his parent, except in an actual case of parental abuse of the child.

It is up to the parent to decide what she or he believes is best for the child. I have been telling parents for decades that they have the privilege, duty and power to decide what is best for their child.

That process between parent and child is what has made us human. Whether you see it as by natural law or by the will of God, parents are in charge.

No corporation, scientist, government agency, doctor, minister, school, neighbor, employer or other authority can force a parent to give up her or his power.

This may mean some tough choices. Home school? A new job, a move?

But the parent must choose.

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