There are a lot of things that I can reflect on hearing my parents say that never really made sense to me as a kid - and honestly, still don’t make sense to me even as an adult. Like, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Or “because I said so.” Or the classic “Yeah, well. Life’s not fair.”
But the one that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is “The only thing to fear, is fear itself.”
With most of these, I understand the sentiment - but the actual practical manifestation proves to be more complex. Fear is such a prevalent issue, and at this moment in our society in particular.
Whether we like it or not, there are so many of us that drive our decisions in fear. Fear something happening, fear of something not happening. We judge and disconnect ourselves from others because we fear their choices. We fear what we cannot control, what we cannot fix, change, or align in a way that makes us feel comfortable.
And because what makes us feel safe, can vastly differ from what makes our neighbour feel safe - we can start to see our neighbours as threats, or a representation of that which threatens our safety.
It’s probably no secret I’m referring to this perceived war between the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
I think it’s critical that we humanize this conversation. We need to work to do our best to understand that people making seemingly radical choices and decisions by our own measure - are making decisions with the tools, resources, and information that is available to them, and are therefore the best, most logical choice for them.
If we bring compassion into our conversations, and attempt to listen to one another. Hear the concerns, hear where the rationale is driven from - then maybe we can have more constructive conversations with one another. The hard part is that each side needs to be willing to listen and to hold space for the other.
We need to be willing to see from a perspective beyond our own, and consider the impact of factors that might not affect us, but are expressively important to our neighbour.
Simply repeating and restating our beliefs or our side of this argument - or falling into the defence of using personal attacks, or defamation of character and intelligence - none of this is cultivating an environment for meaningful and constructive conversations. Communication isn’t a convenience. It’s challenging, and we all need to be willing to manage the challenges that come with having difficult conversations. We all need to be ready to hear things that don’t immediately align with our own beliefs. We all need to be open to answering questions, even if those questions seem redundant, or even frivolous.
This will pass.
And eventually when it does, we’ll be on the other side of it - in some way or another. We’ll all have learned something, we will all have learned we were wrong about something and right about something else. And it will be at that point that we’ll have live with words we can’t take back.
Please, prioritize kindness. Prioritize humility and compassion. Please listen to one another. Hold space for the fear that someone has that you might not have. Because if fear is truly the common enemy, then it’s possible for us to work together to find an aligned conclusion.