Enjoying The Era Of Good Feelings

Anyone who took high school American History class will recall that, at one point during the early years of the young Republic, there was a time known as the “Era of Good Feelings.”  It was a period that began shortly after the end of the War of 1812 and lasted for about a decade, spanning virtually the entire administration of President James Monroe.  It was never entirely clear why Americans had good feelings, much less why an entire historical era bore that tantalizing name, but we learned about it just the same.

I’m in my own personal era of good feelings — brought about by Ohio State’s titanic victory in the first-ever college football playoff National Championship Game — and I’m trying to make it linger for as long as possible.

My primary method of extending this modern “Era of Good Feeling” has been avoiding any news or interaction that might torpedo my mood.  Since virtually all news these days is off-putting, that means paying no attention to news web sites or irritants like the Grammys ceremony, and instead watching and rewatching the three crucial games in the Buckeyes’ march to immortality — the Big Ten Championship game, the Sugar Bowl, and the National Championship Game.  I’ve watched them each multiple times, to the point where my lovely wife is starting to wonder how in the hell I can watch the same broadcast again and again.  So, I’ve tried to be a bit more surreptitious in getting my fix, watching shorter, edited versions of the games when Kish is out of the house.  I still enjoy them, anyway.

In American history, the Era of Good Feeling ended when James Monroe’s second term ended, multiple members of his Cabinet and other figures all tried to grab for the presidential brass ring, and a divided four-way election was acrimoniously decided by the House of Representatives amid charges of corruption.  I know that my Era of Good Feelings inevitably will end, too — but it’s been fun while it’s lasted. In the meantime, have you seen this nifty 16-minute collection of plays from the Big Ten Championship Game?

Vaccination And The Downslope

Sometimes you wonder whether civilization has passed its peak and is regressing.  I’ve had that feeling recently, reading about vaccination and outbreaks of preventable infectious diseases, like measles, at places like Disneyland.

Ohio, unfortunately, has the lowest measles vaccination rate in the country.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 86 percent of 19- to 35-month-old children received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in 2013, tying Ohio for the worst performance in the U.S.  Even worse, only 61 percent of Ohio kids have received the full set of childhood vaccinations, which includes shots for diseases like polio, chickenpox, and whooping cough, also among the worst resuts in the country.  Those large numbers of unvaccinated kids can turn into unprotected adults who could be ravaged by an epidemic.

In Ohio, some of the unvaccinated children are part of groups, like the Amish, that oppose the shots for religious or cultural reasons.  But there is no doubt that Ohio’s performance is growing worse in the general population, too.  Statistics from the Ohio Department of Health show a steady decline in immunization rates from 2006 to 2013, to the Buckeye State’s current dismal standing at the bottom.  It’s embarrassing.

Why aren’t Ohio kids getting their shots?  Obviously, because parents aren’t insisting on it.  Some parents justify non-immunization because they’ve heard that vaccinations may be linked to autism — a finding in a since-discredited British study — but even autism advocacy groups reject that link and encourage childhood immunization. Some parents may just be lazy, and others may believe that non-vaccination just won’t affect their kids.  Regardless of how it is characterized, there seems to be a disturbing, anti-scientific feeling at work among American parents.  It’s unimaginable to those of us who remember our mothers marching us to the doctor’s office to roll up our sleeves, smell the fresh, cold scent of alcohol being rubbed on our arms (or butts), and feel the sting of the needle.  They insisted that we get those shots because that was the modern, scientific way to avoid disease.

Now that widespread view apparently has changed, even in educated parts of our society.  How have we reached the point where a significant percentage of parents aren’t protecting their kids by employing proven methods to avoid potentially devastating diseases?  Are other parenting basics being forsaken by these people?  Are we on the downslope here?