Managing Editor's Note: Now that the breakfast in bed has been digested, the cards read, the flowers smelled and the macaroni necklace worn with pride, here's an action plan for all of us Moms. Dads too.
By Lori Brozek
I had an idea.
The idea was to have a coordinated event across the country on Mother’s Day.
The Mother’s Day Dissent.
In every state there would be designated sites where mothers could drive. The sites would be the State’s Department of Health Office, an office of the State’s Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the office of a Vaccine Manufacturer or other similar sites. No overnight trips - just a car ride to a spot in your state on Mother’s Day. We all would gather at the sites across the country at the same time. And here’s what we’d do: one by one, burn a copy of our child’s vaccine records.
There were a couple of other ideas for coordinated events the following week. Everyone gets four or five cereal boxes, empties them and covers the boxes with white paper. On the front is a picture of your child with autism and above the picture are the words: Have You Seen This Child? Below the picture are the words of Mark Blaxill: What Did You Do During the Age of Autism? The boxes are addressed to various people: the CEOs of Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, the Special Masters in the Cedillo case, the President, etc. We mail them all the same day.
Then we get really crazy (we are a bunch of lunatic parents aren’t we?). We assemble groups of mothers to stand in front of trucks trying to leave a vaccine manufacturing plant. We form a hand-holding chain and don’t let them cross. Maybe we get arrested. I think everyone should get arrested at least once in a lifetime, no?
Unfortunately, I never got very far with the idea. For one thing, I’m not exactly a big name in the autism biomedical movement. Lori who? The autism paparazzi are not following me around for photographs and I’m not on the secret list of decision makers. And life got in the way. I’ve been in the process of buying a home, buying a new car, planning a trip to Rome/Santorini (my first vacation without kids in 26 years), working full-time and dealing with autism. I didn’t have time for one more thing.
But I wonder if it’s more than that. I wonder if I/we(?) have the guts to do such a thing. It’s one thing to get a permit and assemble in Washington for a walk on the street holding signs. It’s a whole ‘nother ballgame to stand in protest in front of a truck trying to exit a plant and risk getting arrested. Did I mention everyone should get arrested once in a lifetime?
I work in Philadelphia, four or five blocks away from a large office of GlaxoSmithKline. In 2008, it was reported 12 Argentinean babies that participated in GlaxoSmithKline vaccine trials died. Sometime after I heard this news, I had a sleepless night wondering why I wasn’t out there on my lunch hour holding a sign in protest. Who was speaking for these babies? Why wasn’t I? What was I afraid of?
So even though I wasn’t able to organize a cross-country Mother’s Day Dissent event, I’m going to be there anyway. Alone. I decided it’s not important to me if I’m the only one out there. I need to do this for myself – to say what I need to say and commit my own personal act of defiance. I plan to stand in front of the offices of GlaxoSmithKline and burn a copy of my son’s vaccine records this Mother’s Day and every Mother’s Day until it is acknowledged that vaccines played a part in the autism epidemic. And on that final Mother’s Day, I’ll burn the original records of all three of my children.
I encourage you to commit an act on behalf of yourself this Mother’s Day, whether it’s saying something unsaid to a spouse, a family member, a friend or burning a vaccine record. I hope you’ll join me in finding a way to say what you need to say.
Lori Brozek is the mother of three including a 15-year old son with autism. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Autism Association and is employed by the IRS. Feel free to join her at noon on Mother's Day 2012 at One Franklin Plaza in Phildadelphia, PA.