Vaccination is a topic I’ve done my best to avoid in my eleven years of blogging, but today, I can’t keep silent any more. I’d really like to have an honest conversation about vaccines.
I have friends in both camps. Adamant pro-vaccine friends and the most passionate of anti-vaxxers are both on the play-date rotation for my kids.
I actually have very strong opinions about vaccines myself, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss. Instead of than telling you via blog post whether I think you should vaccinate or not, I’d like to talk about the way we hold these discussions with our friends, especially on social media.
There are huge faults on both sides, and I’ve seen many a friendship hurt by divisive articles being shared on Facebook because finally some one had the nerve to write what you’d been thinking privately all along.
I get it. Both sides have come under massive attack from one another. It’s hard not to come to any conversation about vaccines without brining memories of past conversations and anger at the way you’ve been treated for your views.
But here’s what I hate most. I hate when each side accuses the other of “not doing research”. As if to imply, if the other person had simply spent the same amount of time that you did reading up in books or on the internet, they would obviously reach the same conclusions you did.
It’s simply not true. Everyone is looking at the same information. In fact, we can both “do research” and reach different conclusions, and that’s okay.
What’s not okay is all the mud slinging.
What’s not okay is assuming that the other side is full of crazy people or ignorant people because their research brought them to a different conclusion than yours did.
It has to stop.
One person sees a chart of how many vaccines were given back in the 1950s and how many are given today and sees progress. They view it as a measurement of how far modern medicine has come in preventing diseases. Another person will look at the exact same chart and see an alarming and unnecessary rate of growth in the vaccine industry and view it as cause for concern.
Both are looking at the same data. Different conclusions reached.
The problem is, we will never be able to have an open conversation about this topic until we calm down and are willing to hear what the other side really has to say.
We will never be able to stop the internet wars on this topic until we start viewing people on “the other side” as just that. People.
We need to understand that each side is filled, not with crazy people who don’t know how to research are following blindly after “false information”, but with loving parents who are trying to make the best, safest choices for their kids.
As you think about the issue today, or think about your friends who might be on the other side of the issue, remember to share articles kindly. To write and speak with the respect that you would hope that they have for you.
And let’s start by assuming every one has done their research and is doing what they feel is best for their kids and approach the conversation from a position of respect and care for one another, not mud slinging defensiveness.
You still don’t know what side of the issue I fall on ;)