What's More Toxic Than a Virus or Vaccine?
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
You've surely seen the vaccine opinion war that's flooding social media by the minute. I'd like to start by saying, no matter where you stand, pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, I trust you. The purpose of this post is not to convince you one way or another. I'm confident that you are doing what's best for your health, your loved ones, your careers, and even some reasons that are none of my business.
Some of you adamantly believe in science and were the first in line to snag your appointment slot when the vaccine was released. Good for you. I'm proud of you for being self-attuned and responding with what feels like freedom for you and your loved ones. Another group of you are vehemently against the vaccine, and wouldn't take it if the CDC paid you. Good for you. I'm proud of you for fighting for yourself and refusing to be forced to live outside your beliefs and values.
There is a camp of you that have an internal desire to contribute to the greater good but need more information before you feel safe enough to inject your body with something that was created in a short amount of time. You are concerned about long-term effects and don't feel the urgency to be vaccinated. Good for you. I'm proud of you for listening to your intuition.
Similarly, there are some of you who truly don't want to be vaccinated, but will do so for the sake of your loved ones, your clients/patients, and your careers. Good for you. I'm proud of you for living a life of service to others.
Many of you have pivoted. You've changed your opinions about the vaccine over the course of the past 13 months. That's okay too. Do what is best for you, and then have grace for yourself, knowing you've made the best decision you could, based on the information you have.
Here's the thing, none of you are wrong. You have the right to choose what is best for you, and I don't judge you either way. I have loved ones who are vaccinated, and others who refuse, and I'm not mad at anyone. We've never done this before, so let's have grace for one another.
This is our first time navigating Covid-19 and a brand new vaccine. We've been given a lot of confusing information, a lack of information, drenched in endless opinions, and baked in political debate for over a year now. This is hard, and I choose to believe that each of you is doing your best, and I'm proud of you.
What I'm far more concerned with than the pro-vaccine vs. anti-vaccine debate, is the daily public shaming that floods my feed, making it look like an emotional dumpster fire. I need you to know that SHAME IS TOXIC. It negatively impacts our mental and physical health, as well as our relationships. It has long-term effects, and can even ruin someone's life. Shame is what I help people heal from every single day.
Shaming others is an attempt for you to feel assured that you are doing the right thing, and by (falsely) believing that others are not. It builds barriers and conflict, as people need to protect themselves when they feel ashamed. If you are confident in your stance, you don't need to shame others to prove it.
From a place of kindness, remember that you don't know the whole story. You don't know the ins and outs of what each person is navigating as they come to their own decision. Many of you are claiming your concern for humanity with one swipe of the keyboard, only to shame people with the next. You will never help someone by being cruel. Focus on how you want to use your opinion for the greater good, and be kind about it. Social media can be a powerful tool in educating the masses, and it's beautiful when people want to use it to benefit the greater good. If you are passionate about your opinion and want to enlighten others, be kind. Build trust and relationships. Commit to adding value with your words. As with all freedoms, you have the right to freedom of speech. Just know that shame is no less toxic than a virus or a vaccine.