Basically it has gotten to the point where I just feel I CANNOT be silent anymore. It feels wrong. It feels like I am being a coward. If feels like I am leaving people out in the cold, all alone: Good people. Brave people. Suffering people. People like me and you. Fathers who had the same hopes for their children that all daddies do; dreams that are wrenched from their hands, outstretched towards a future that will never come to pass. Mothers who now dedicate their lives to children who will never grow up healthy and independent, and STILL somehow find time to share what they are going through... because they want to help others.
I started really thinking about vaccines when Gerry was born. He is 7 years old now. I have read a LOT on the issue. I've bought books. I've read way too many comment threads that have left me feeling sick to my stomach. For many people this is not "enough". "Google university" will not ever compare to an MD; believe me I'm well aware of that fact. I don't claim to be an expert and I don't think I have the answer on this controversial issue.
But I have been paying attention to the debate. Rarely a day goes by without me dedicating some time to thinking or reading about it. I've seen the legislation being passed in California and other states. I've followed the VAXXED documentary touring the country, and watched it (and others). This is an issue that is not going to just "go away."
I don't expect to change anyone's mind on this topic. People who believe in vaccines feel very strongly and people who don't believe in them are just as set in their beliefs. But I do believe we need to add a whole lot of compassion to the discussion. I will NEVER understand how people who are for vaccines for everyone, no matter what the situation, can explain away the hundreds of thousands of people sharing their stories of vaccine injury. Do they think ALL of these people are lying? Or do they believe, maybe they aren't "lying" but just misguided - looking for a reason to explain whatever ails their loved one? Perhaps the most common rationalization is that these reactions are so "rare" that it shouldn't really be part of the conversation.
Call me naive, but I do believe that the large majority of these stories are true. And there are so many of them with so many commonalities. No matter how many times people say "But, Science!" or "Correlation doesn't equal Causation" it doesn't sit right with me. There are too many people suffering. Too many babies dying or regressing within a short period after receiving vaccines. I don't believe in coincidences that happen over and over. Science needs to catch up with these real lives and real people, not just keep insisting that "anecdotes" are not scientific proof.
We all want the best for our families, children, and loved ones. We all want to lead happy, healthy lives. We don't agree on what the best way to achieve that is. Please if you think that parents who question vaccines are stupid, irresponsible, deserve to be in jail, have their children taken away, or to die a terrible death - stop and reconsider. Think about the following:
- Most "anti-vaccine" people were once very much "pro-vaccine". Many have children who had awful reactions to vaccines, some are permanently disabled, some are dead.
- If you think that "anti-vaxxers" are "fear mongering" consider and admit that we are all motivated by fear to some degree. Why is one side "fear mongering" while the other side has "Truth" on it?
- There have been many articles that point out that the people refusing vaccines are actually "highly educated". Why is that so? And how does that line up with the idea that people who oppose the current vaccine schedule are ignorant or stupid?
- Not every doctor or person who questions vaccines is a "quack" and when you use derogatory terms like that you are not helping your case. Same goes for people questioning vaccines - people who choose to vaccinate are not all "sheeple."
I do not wish to debate about the worth of vaccines. I think the topic is very complicated - it is NOT black and white. If it were simple and so obviously beneficial to EVERYONE this "debate" would have died long ago. I only wish to be brave. To let people who are FAR BRAVER than I am know: I stand with you. I want people to learn to question their own thoughts (I question mine every day!) and to listen to others with love.
I can hardly believe that these desires of mine are controversial, but they are. I am one of "those" people. I question vaccines. If you know me, I think you know what kind of person I am. I think you know that I am not stupid or ignorant. I hope you will still want to continue your relationship with me, whatever it may be - friend, family, loved one. I bet there are more of "me" in your life than you know. Because most of us make our choices and then go about our lives trying not to rock the boat. I've decided I can't be silent anymore and it is my fervent hope that it will not cause me to lose people in my life, but if I do I am prepared for that. Please consider your words because you never know who may believe differently than you and have a different experience than you. Love thy neighbor. It's that simple and that difficult.