Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Vaccine for Talking About Vaccines

Take a look at the mother on the opposite side of this vaccine debate.  Now, imagine her as more than a few lines of Facebook feed.  It’s not the easiest thing to do, I know.  But if we both try real hard …  If we squeeze our eyes shut tight and push away from the computer screen (once you’ve finished reading this post, of course), we just may just get some where.

Right now, this opponent is wiping a nose — and no, the child doesn’t have the measles (“wild” or whatever kind it is you can catch at Disneyland).  He has the flu.  Whether he was inoculated for this contagion doesn’t matter at this point.  He’s miserable, and all he wants are his mother's arms around him, her hands stroking his blond hair and her heartbeat on his cheek as he naps the afternoon away on her chest.
But this mother is distracted.  By me.  You see, I just told her off.  And oh, I summoned such courage before I did so. Truly, wielding harsh words with the buffer of cyberspace as my shield took some saintly bravery.  

Actually, it didn’t.  It took no bravery at all.  [Insert the squealing sound of my fat head deflating like a helium balloon.]

What takes bravery is what my opponent and I do every day.  We stay at home with our babies even when we’re bored, even when we’re lonely, even when we’re broke and could use the cash a job would easily provide.  We nurture.  We love.  We educate.  We make the best choices for our kids with the information we can muster.  
We have a lot in common, my “opponent” and I.  More, I’d wager, than many moms on my side of this vaccine debate.
Does this mean we shouldn’t dialogue? 
Of course not.  We’ve gotta share the wisdom each has gathered.  It’s just what moms do.
Does this mean we should pretend it’s plausible for both of us to be right? 
Again, no.  Let’s not mess with what’s mathematically impossible.  Let’s not speak anything that feels too much like a lie. 
Can we sense, however, when it's time to take a break and simply love one another in spite of of our differences?
Of course we can.  
If it wasn't, St. Paul wouldn’t have commanded us to do this very thing when he instructed that we “bear with one another and clothe ourselves in love.” (Colossians 3:14)  St. Peter also spoke of this love when he said to be “fervent” in it, “trusting that [it] covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
I have a feeling my opponent is probably in the kitchen right now.  She's probably helping her daughter with algebra or figuring out the next meal.   If I had to wager whether her actions at this very moment have anything to do with  A.  The spread or prevention of a potentially life-threatening, communicable disease or  B.  Throwing together a casserole, I’d wager the choice that comes in an 9” by 13” pan.
Speaking of casseroles, I’ve got people to feed.