We have failed to cut each other any slack or allow any room for honest differences of opinion as we become embroiled in the vaccine narrative.
Since the arrival of the vaccination aimed at quelling the symptoms of the Coronavirus, and its subsequent availability I have seen a shift in human behaviour and attitude towards each other.
In any dissolving marriage, there is a point where a crucial pivot occurs — when partners shift from a sense of confidence the other person cares about their relationship to a place where they arrive at an ominous conclusion: “Obviously, you do not care?”
It has become challenging to speak to certain people. Now proponents of the vaccine are
unwilling or unable to understand the thinking of vaccine skeptics — or even admit that skeptics may be thinking at all.
Vaccine refusal is nothing new. It started back in the early 1899’s when the smallpox vaccine started being used in large numbers. The very idea of injecting someone with a part of a cowpox blister, as a means of protecting them from smallpox faced a lot of criticism. This criticism was based on sanitary, religious, and political objections. Some clergy even believed that the vaccine went against their religion. Additionally, in the mid 1970s, an international controversy over the safety of the DTP ( diphtheria, tetanus , pertussis or whooping cough) immunization erupted in Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America.
How did we ever arrive at this point? Better still, why have we mere mortals allowed a vaccine to pit us against our fellow humans. We must always keep in mind that it is the virus, not each other, who is the foe. We need a measure of grace and patience with each other. With this notion firmly entrenched in our minds — how do we navigate through these difficult conversations and the next phase of the pandemic while keeping our mental health and relationships intact? It has really been trying times for friends, families and even loved ones , to navigate together, and vaccinations have proven to be the culpable tipping point. It is critical to realize there is a reason why some people may be distrustful of the vaccination, while keeping our own biases in check.
During a year of isolation and fear, many people formed strongly held beliefs throughout the pandemic as a survival mechanism — directly influencing the way they behave, especially when it comes to following public health guidelines and the choice to be vaccinated.
We have started to apply names to those who refuse to take the vaccinations or at times wear a mask. There is no question that there are selfish people in the world and by extension dwell among us, but are we ready to brand those who say that they are unlikely to get the vaccine, as being –selfish, or give them any of the broad brushstroke labels such as stupid, ignorant, uneducated, dark, anti science?
An end must be put to public shaming, insults, bullying, dehumanizing, demonizing, accusing other humans of wrongdoing in a subjective matter, speculating on the motives of others, personally attacking the character or another and many other unfair and unkind behaviour.
I do not want to be misunderstood, as I also struggle amidst this maelstrom of conspiracy theories and political rhetoric.
I nevertheless strongly support the held belief that it is possible to disagree emphatically and profoundly (and even to consider another mindset dangerous), and to do all this ) without condemning others as being incapable of caring. So, as we continue to abide by physical distancing and social boundaries, it may be time to add emotional boundaries — in the interest of preserving our relationships — to the list.
It is also vitally important to recognize that we do have control over the types of conversations we choose to engage in. And for the sake of our Black community I sincerely hope we can do just that.
Aleuta continua— The struggle continues.