Step Away From The Needle For One Moment
This post is not about vaccines, nor is it an attempt to shove my opinion on vaccinations in your face. No, this is far more serious.
This post is about respect.
Long before any of us heard of Andrew Wakefield or Jenny McCarthy, long before we understood what thimerosal really was, and long before we even knew how to spell the word spectrum, we learned about respect. We learned that the world is made up of all shapes and sizes, that everyone is allowed to have an opinion, and sometimes for the sake of friendships and professionalism we should just agree to disagree, and move on.
When it comes to vaccines, I have associations on both sides of the argument. People who I know personally, those I have collaborated with professionally, or simply people for whom I have an incredible amount of respect. Some of my closest friends qualify for all three of these categories. They are as diverse in their heritage as they are in their opinions, and so naturally they bring different experiences and perspectives to the table. Agree or disagree, I begrudge no one for their ideas, even in areas I feel to be outlandish. My reasoning for this is quite simple. My opinions on the matter are just that, mine. I live my life how I choose, and allow them to live theirs too. Besides, there is no benefit in engaging in a battle that cannot be won.
There was a time not that long ago when smoking cigarettes was not only considered healthy, but the ‘thing to do’. Smoking was endorsed by doctors, lawyers, athletes, and everyone in between. Somewhere along the way though, someone linked smoking and secondhand smoke to the deterioration of certain elements of the human body, and the pendulum swung hard in the other direction. It’s to the point now where smokers are considered outcasts and secondhand smoke is socially unacceptable. Over the next 50 years, vaccines may experience a similar swing, and they may not. Only time will tell. Compelling evidence may be exposed which will change a lot of opinions, yours and mine alike, in either direction. It really doesn’t matter what happens in the future though. The debate is scorching hot now, and now is where we will make a difference if we’re willing to listen to each other and work together.
Have an intellectual conversation. Express your opinions and share your concerns. Be passionate in your presentations. Understand that the people on the other side are just as passionate from a different angle and they have reasoning that seems just as solid to them as yours does to you. And it’s OK. Through debate and discussion comes progress. Our founding fathers proved that when creating such documents as the Emancipation Proclamation and the Bill of Rights.
Just like religion, politics, and the latest military conflict that we should or should not get involved in, vaccines are a polarized topic. No matter where you stand on the matter, please remember one small concept:
Respect is essential, even for those with whom you disagree. They are asking for nothing more and they deserve nothing less. Even if you have to agree to disagree.
My nine-year old son understands that ridiculing and name-calling will get him nowhere. It’s a lesson we’ve all learned, and hopefully can live by.