I’m currently in my last couple of days at my current job as a barista so I have been doing everything in my power to positively utilize the time I have left to do things I wouldn’t be able to do while working most other jobs: browsing the internet, trying to draw then browsing the internet, trying to read then browsing the internet, and helping out where I can with the wedding planning process. Just kidding–browsing the internet.
And during what turned into two hours of doing that, I came across this, an article about an “anti-vaxxer” teacher and mother of three that decided to change her thoughts on the subject of vaccination when her three children, her husband, and she all came down with a case of rotavirus. Rotavirus is a common diarrhoeal disease that is most prevalent in young children, and one that can be easily prevented with proper vaccination…and not much else. Though rotavirus affects nearly every child on earth at some point in their lives, not much can be done to treat the disease aside from managing the symptoms, making prevention through proper vaccination a priority for a parent that is seeking to avoid the illness. As you might imagine, this makes preventing the disease difficult for a parent that is wholly against the idea of vaccinating their children.
But, that’s not what this post is about, nor is this woman, because, though she took an uneducated approach to her opinion on the benefits and harmful effects of receiving vaccinations, she changed her mind when the evidence provided proved she was wrong.
What this post is about are the people that approach a subject the way she did and never waver, the ones that have an opinion and “research” it by looking up every article and blog post that supports their opinion without giving much thought to the opposite side. We see this in people’s opinions on politics, on health related issues, on diets, conspiracies, education, etc., and the amazing thing is, having come up and out of a college major that required the idea of challenging opinions–both yours and the opinions of others–it’s not an uncommon thing to see in yourself or in the people around you. The reason for this being that we as people, as human people, naturally seek to belong, to follow the herd, due to a need to survive. That instinct for survival could be a literal one, but often times, it isn’t the primary concern. Sometimes that need to belong, that need to survive, is related to our need for companionship, for love, to feel heard, and to matter, and by being an outcast and existing on the fringes, it becomes difficult to achieve those needs.
But, oddly, most human beings have a need for the opposite as well: to be different, to have an opinion that is different, and to express said opinion openly. You see this in your rebels, your truthers, your textbook hipsters–and anytime anyone goes against the grain. Both ways of thinking are necessary in moderation, but both are dangerous when subscribed to exclusively. People that follow the herd too closely can risk not having an opinion of their own and the ones that rebel at the slightest hint of conformity risk no one taking them seriously. That’s why people hit somewhere in the middle. When we fly too far to the left or the right our opinions rarely change. We become so caught up in being with the crowd or being different that we don’t look at the facts, and when we do that, our politics, our debates, our general discussions can’t ever count for much. It’s when opinions change into something new that our ideas and stances have the chance to get better. We can form new opinions, make alterations, fix our worldview and the tangible, troubled things those views are a part of and make them into something more–which is what we need, because most things, most issues could be made better if people did more to educate themselves.
I applaud the woman in the article above because she felt she was wrong and she changed her opinion. Not a lot of people can claim that, not truthfully anyways, because we all have a problem with bias, we all stick to our guns, we all wish that when the coin is tossed, one side will appear over the other, but as human people who have to make choices and interact with other people, we have to understand that we have to do better. We have to understand that we aren’t always right and that we aren’t the most informed. We can have opinions, we can take them to the mat and go toe-to-toe with the people that oppose us, but we have to also be willing to change at the inevitable point we’re wrong.