Some thoughts on hardened pro and anti-vax positions

I’ve been thinking a little recently about the intensity of the conversations around vaccines and attempting to understand what underpins the most hardened and vocal positions on either side. While far from a definitive list, the primary concerns and fears might best be defined with the following propositions:

Hardened pro-vaxxer
1. Covid is a serious disease that has killed many people;
2. Lockdowns are needed to contain the virus;
3. Masks work and should be mandated;
4. Vaccines are safe, and they protect me and others;
5. Vaccine passports will help us to fully open up the country again and encourage the hesitant to get vaccinated;
6. If I don’t take the vaccine, the virus might kill me and leave me responsible for the deaths of others.

Hardened anti-vaxxer
1. Although a real disease, Covid is an overblown panic;
2. Lockdowns are not needed;
3. Masks do not work;
4. The safety and efficacy of the vaccines are being oversold;
5. Vaccine passports don’t work and will only segregate society;
6. The draconian control measures and the vaccine rollout have caused us to lose our freedom, and we likely won’t get them back after the pandemic ends.

Of course, there are many other people somewhere in the middle. Those, for instance, who might advocate for the vaccines but recognise the real threat of creeping authoritarianism and are scared of losing their freedoms to powerful forces who using Covid to their own advantage. That being said, it is the hardened pro and anti-vaxxers who are always the most vocal.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, someone in the middle, the constant toing and froing is like white noise and appears to be achieving precisely nothing. Regardless of the number of facts ‘proven’ or memes shared, from what I can tell, no one budges an inch one way or another.

It seems as if we live in an empathy vacuum, driven by undue levels of certainty, fuelled by whichever media sources are consumed on either side (be that the MSM or otherwise).

We can’t go on like this forever, surely? It’s exhausting. This might sound like hippy-woo-woo (blame the mushrooms), but wouldn’t your time be better spent learning why the other side thinks as it does? To attempt to understand the genuine fears and concerns that underpin their arguments? And to do so to the degree that you can empathically feel their position as if it were your own and articulate it as if you held it yourselves? In other words, actively seek ways to coexist together, as peacefully as possible?

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