July 20, 2020
Have the conversation
For those of you who have been shocked to discover that not all of your friends and family adhere to the same beliefs you hold regarding public health, take heart; you are not alone. Those of you who were not so surprised, aren’t alone either.
Whatever the case, options can feel limited. You can cut them off, avoiding all contact and scrolling furiously when you see their profile pop up in your feed. You can grit your teeth, although with the current amount of controversy this option is probably not recommended for maximum dental health. Or, you can have the conversation.
While it is hard to initiate a conversation when you know that chances are slim that your words will even be considered, if we as a country ever want to move out of this stage of resentment and suspicion, we must have discourse. As thrilling as it is to discuss the debate over masks and whether children should be sent back to schools with those of like mind, this does nothing to shift the country in the right direction. It does keep us sane, I know. It is sometimes terrifying to look at the level of willful ignorance currently on display. And we need to know we are not alone in our concerns. That we are not alone in our trust in science.
But we need to get to a place where we are focused on what is best for the country as a whole more so than on our own pet peeves, and that is going to require a larger percentage of the population to accept facts. You don’t have to climb Everest in a day. For example, consider those who post inflammatory comments on social media. You don’t need to spend the day commenting back and forth until you’re exhausted and swearing to your dog that you will never to talk to your Aunt Gladys again. Instead, consider dropping a well-sourced fact in response to misinformation and stepping away.
Asking specific questions is another route to take. Why doesn’t Aunt Gladys believe any of the recommendations from the CDC? Ask her. Ask her if she can provide you with a link to some of the peer reviews on the efficacy of that lavender oil and garlic concoction that makes her immune to COVID as long as she gets it on every toe.
We are all in this together, and more of us need to realize that. Don’t exhaust yourself. But when you see a chance, drop a seed. Ask a question. Have the conversation, even if it happens in bits and pieces.