Baby Dust Diaries

A Life Less Ordinary

A Civil Debate About Vaccines

conflict-clipart-CLIPART_OF_ProcessI don’t write about vaccines much anymore. The reason is simply that I had read more than enough (several times over enough) to completely convince me that vaccines were a bad idea for both humanity in general and my children specifically (which, contrary to popular press, are BOTH very important to me). It isn’t my passion anymore. Unless someone is talking about “anti-vaxxers” going to jail or having their kids sent into foster care. It is only when you seek to infringe on my right to body integrity that I engage. I no longer play the show me your research and I’ll show you mine game.

I am disheartened that, from my perspective, so many people believe the vaccine propaganda without digging deeper behind these recommended substances being injected into our most vulnerable population. However, what really pains me is how impossible it apparently is to have a civil discussion about the topic.

Last year I was kicked out of a feminist group for, “promoting child abuse” after having a rather civil discussion on vaccines with other members. The group admins believed so strongly that vaccines are an inarguable benefit to children and humanity that they not only couldn’t have a conversation with me about bodily integrity and the right of the state to force medications on autonomous human beings, but that to even bring it up promoted child abuse.

Damn, that is some seriously strong cultural indoctrination.

I *get* that I’m the minority. I know you think I am straight up wrong. I get that you can’t believe I don’t get it. But what I don’t get is that you are going to shame and demean me in your arguments. Honestly, when you notice yourself so vociferously defending a point of view, which is fine, but feeling hot under the collar about it, then maybe you want to examine where feelings that strong are coming from.

An emotional response that strong comes from one of two places. Either you have a personal experience to draw on (for example, you have a child injured by a disease that has a vaccine and you feel the unvaccinated were responsible) or you’ve been subliminally and overtly indoctrinated to feel something by someone else. Who is that? Why did they do that? I’d want to know. And why do they need to use influence and marketing to “sell” this idea so hard? Why don’t the vaccines speak for themselves?

Maybe you feel you have examined these issues and you still feel vaccines are for you. That is great. I’m happy for you. Perhaps you even think that unvaccinated individuals are a danger to others. I imagine that is a painful feeling to have. I know how I feel when I see transphobia against little kids just trying to be comfortable in their skin. I just know I have to speak out – and do so loudly – to give voice to a group that I know is so often silenced. If you truly feel that my choice not to vaccinate my children puts infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised people at risk then I empathize deeply with the compassion for those people that drives your passion. Namaste. That place in me that feels compassion sees the same place in you and I respect your voice in this argument.

Can you see me for one moment? I do care deeply about people for whom measles or chicken pox are deadly. I would never, never have made this decision without researching that aspect of public health and vaccines. I know you think I haven’t researched enough, or in the wrong places, or that I simply don’t understand enough to make what you consider the right choice. I’m not asking you to understand my choice. I’m asking you to see the place of compassion inside that my choice comes from.

The fact is I am not a shitty person. I’m not uncaring. I’m not uneducated or swayed by celebrity worship or an irrational hippie (I’m a quite rational hippie thankyouverymuch). I am a very kind person. If we met in person I’m sure we’d like each other.

You’d undoubtedly call me weird, or crunchy. You most definitely rolled your eyes when I said “vaccine propoganda” (ha! my side uses subliminal bias too.) My medicine cabinet has more brown, glass jars with droppers than things you’d buy at Walgreens. I’m a peace-freak who doesn’t spank her kids or send them to the local schools. I’m a “femi-nazi” and I’ll tell you, at length, why you should never say that. But I’m friends with many people who don’t believe the same things I do. And I think at least some of them would vouch for me being a decent human being. I’m not asking you to *get* me or agree with me.

I’m just asking that you can stop for a moment and not see me as an “antivaxxer.” I’m not your enemy. I am a friend. My life isn’t like yours. My choices aren’t like yours. But I worry about my kids all the time just like you. I think about their health and do things to make them as healthy as possible. I also care about humanity and I care very much that babies die around the world, just like you do. I think deeply on issues like white, western privilege and how this discussion would be different if I didn’t live in a place with access to healthcare, sanitation, and nutritious food, just like you do.

Do you want to send the police to my house to put my kids in foster care? Do you want them to be held down and injected against their will? I am such a pariah to you that you want me HURT and ROBBED of dignity and my own children? If you had to be the one to hold them down after ripping them from my arms would it change your answer?

I hope you answered no. If we can’t look past our own thoughts and, even briefly, see the humanity in each other then what is all this even for?

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3 Comments

  1. I follow you as a fellow gentle parenter, although I vaccinate my child. I appreciate this post. We need more of this on both sides of the debate. Both pro and anti vaxers get hot under the collar and I would argue that both sides have valid research to consider as well as propaganda.

  2. You jump to conclusions. Most people who think you are wrong by not using vaccines do not want to take your children from you. They just want you to inform every place you come across that your child is not vaccinated and may be a life threatening danger to other children around them. Other parents, of children who cannot be vaccinated, deserve to know when their heard immunity is threatened and to choose whether they risk it or leave the situation.

    The fact is that smallpox wiped out millions of peoples and utterly decimated the populations of the Americas when the Europeans invaded. Vaccinations eradicated that disease. You can have your opinions on vaccines but those are facts. People around you deserve to know your stance and remove themselves from you if they are not safe, disagree with your views or feel they are at risk.

    Anti-vs take it personally but it IS personal. IF your child contracts something your child may fight it off with little to no symptoms while it may kill the kid at school. So those parents deserve to know your kid has no vs, deserves to know they have been exposed to X and that they can make their own choice on how to react. Just as you did when presented with the option of vaccinations.

    It is absolutely a personal choice but choices always have consequences and some choices have to be shared with others.

    • Paige @ ParentingGently.com

      December 31, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      You assume that I think my children are a “life threatening danger to other children.” I don’t think that obviously or I’d vaccinate them. Luckily we still have a right to medical privacy so I can not be forced to disclose my personal information to complete strangers who are afraid of disease. Your view on this topic can not erode our basic freedoms.

      I do sympathize with your position. If I thought a group of people were a danger to me I’d be upset too. Living with so much fear must be very difficult and uncomfortable when the decisions of another person become the crux of your fear. It’s unfortunate that the media has made you feel like that. I think if you read the research yourself (like the actual journal articles or the actual Pink Book) you would feel much greater peace. I understand if that’s not something you can do right now. Tanks for taking the time to comment.

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