Quite Accidentally Controversial…Oops!

Photo by: Markus Spiske on Unsplash.com

Ah, that awkward moment when you realize you have two beliefs, opinions, ideas that completely oppose each other. They sit comfortably on a spectrum but firmly on the farthest ends. Good twin? Bad Twin? Separated at birth? I always wanted a twin, but my mom wasn’t up for a do-over. Claimed it, “Wasn’t medically possible.”

Yeah, screw medicine and science. I want a twin but I’ll have to wait for human cloning. That’s going to be a thing one day, right? Sheep. Dogs. People would be a natural progression. So, yay, I can still get that twin I’ve always wanted. Is that still considered a twin? No, it’s a clone but of twin-like consistency. Morally wrong? Ethically ambiguous? Can I have my “twin” without crossing the line into creepy sci-fi?

The kind of sci-fi that’s far enough from reality to make it improbable, but close enough to make you wonder. It tickles a part of the brain that can’t be scratched. It wakes you up in the middle of the night. The dreams! Oh, they’re disturbing enough to take REM and put it in the trash. Slam the lid. Put it on the curb. Wave at the garbage people as the take it away to the sleep disposal site.

Well, I think I’m ready to abandon my twin dream. Finally! It’s only been how many years? Never you mind. It’s over. It’s done. Just because you dream it, doesn’t mean you can, or should, achieve it. Like human cloning, for example. If the movies have taught us anything? Human cloning doesn’t turn out well for humanity. Sure, the apocalypse might still come, but do we really need to give it a helping hand?

Then again, what if we could clone a human organ? Heart. Lungs. Kidneys. What about limbs? Your kidneys shut down or your leg goes missing. No problem! Pop your genomes into a centrifuge and give it a spin. A few tweaks, maybe give the machine a gentle kick, and ta-da! A perfect match. Surgically implant or attach the missing part and off you go on your healthy, merry, way.

Ignore my glaring scientific inaccuracies! 

Believe it or not, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. A cardiologist or a neurologist. Head or heart. Huh, ironic considering that now, as an adult, my greatest internal conflict is a war between these two factions. Thoughts and emotions. Ideas and feelings. What I know to be true versus what I feel is true. 

I’m either all head or all heart. If they could work together then we’d have peace in these lands. Ah, but today is not that day, my friend. No, not today.

Two ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Contradictions of the heart and the mind. Both of these ideas, thoughts, feelings are true. They both hold merit. I can’t find fault in either, but I can find fault in both. To dismiss one would be dishonest, but holding on to the other feels hypocritical. 

Did I put my brain on the spin cycle again? Did I leave it running a little too long? Is the motor burning out because I smell smoke?

It’s giving me a headache! Why can’t it be simple, straight forward, easy peasy lemon cheesy? What? My head hurts more now. 

If only we lived in a one-dimensional world with a two-tone modulator. It would be a simple yes or not. Go right or go left. To believe or not to believe. One dimension. Two colours. Right and wrong. Things are either sweet or salty. Boom. Done. Simple. Straight to the point

Wait, so like, do you believe God can exist in a godless world? 

I’m sorry, what now?

Like, if there is a God can he/she/they exist in a world that has no God? If God is omnipresent can that world still be out of his/her/its service range? And, if everything is possible with this God than is it possible that God can un-exist himself/herself/themselves?

My head! My poor head. There’s this twitch now. Can a brain twitch? Where the hell did that come from?

Dude, hell! 

No, please don’t.

If you believe in heaven, don’t you have to believe in hell? And if you believe in heaven and hell then you’ve gotta believe in God. But if God is all about unconditional love then how can God send people to a place where they will be tortured, suffer unimaginable horrors, and be punished for eternity. Eternity is, like, a long time.

Why does my inner voice sound like a stoner hippie? Am I the only one who’s inner voice turns into a character from some cheesy 60’s tv show? Don’t get me wrong, reruns of the original batman are my jam! I live for the booms, pows, and cracks. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with cheesy. Except when your inner voice uses it as a wind-up toy and sends your brain spinning wildly around a confined space.

Stop bringing me down man!

Should I venture into more controversial topics? What could go wrong? Nothing goes wrong when you stir the pot too vigorously. A little spillage, a bit of a mess, but go for it! Why the hell not?

Oo, hell! Not brain, we’ve covered that one. It’s time to move on.

Here’s one I struggle with: My body, my choice. I firmly believe that we all have a right to dictate what happens, and what we do with, our bodies. That includes pregnancy and all related topics. We choose who we love and who we make love with. It’s our right to die or live as we choose. Vaccines. Masks. It’s my body, so I get to decide what I put on it or in it.

I’ve read the reputable studies. I’ve listened to reputable experts, and they all agree that vaccines don’t cause autism. The keyword in that sentence was neither “vaccines” nor “autism.” The keyword was “reputable.” Board-certified. Peer-reviewed. Time tested. Argued, disputed, try as they might they can’t find proof that vaccines do more harm than good. Those studies have shown, proven, that vaccines save lives.

Bringing it down from the clouds to a more personal level. I’m a person with a compromised immune system which means that I rely heavily on herd immunity for my safety, my life. Not every person can get every vaccine. I, for example, can’t have “live vaccines” like whooping cough because my immune system won’t respond to it in a healthy way. Instead of preventing the disease, it would be the equivalent of walking into a smouldering forest with a flame thrower.

Herd immunity slows the spread of the virus and makes it less likely that it will reach me or others like me. It gives us a fighting chance. It means we stand a good chance of completely avoiding an illness that could have devastating consequences on a body that can’t fight back. Herd immunity saves lives. Herd immunity is acquired through vaccines. Vaccines save lives.

I get very frustrated by the anti-vax community, and the message they spread, because they’re threatening my life. Not directly. They don’t have a weapon pointed at my head. Let’s not get too dramatic but, they make the world a very dangerous place for me, and people like me. There’s no way for me to tell who has been vaccinated, and who hasn’t. I can’t avoid the ones that haven’t so every time I walk out of my front door, I’m walking onto a battlefield I can’t see. I can’t fight back. I could take a very deadly hit and have no way to protect myself.

If this pandemic has you, a healthy person, afraid to walk out your front door? You’ve got a taste of what it’s like to have a compromised immune system in the world of anti-vaxxers.

There are people in my life who are anti-vaxxers, and I’ve had to step away from them. Not end friendships but, since they aren’t taking precautions to prevent the spread of potentially deadly viruses, I can’t be anywhere near them. Not physically. We can talk over the phone. Chat on Facebook. Meet for coffee? Go to their house for dinner?

I can’t risk it because the smallest, most innocuous, infection is a flame thrower in a smouldering forest. I’ve had a simple cold turn into pulmonary oedema in a matter of hours. My lungs filled with fluid. I couldn’t breathe because I was drowning in my own body. Dry drowning is one name for it. I was so sick, the doctors called my family and told them to come and say goodbye because they didn’t know if I would survive the night.

That’s what a common cold did to me. Now imagine something like polio or measles. What do you think that would do to a body that can’t fight back? I can’t risk being around anyone who won’t get vaccinated. I just can’t. I have people who love me and need me around. There’s a whole world out there, waiting to be explored, and I’d love to get a chance to see some of it. I’m sorry, but I’m going to be selfish. I don’t want to die so, no, we can’t get coffee or have lunch.

There’s a big “however” coming so, for you anti-vaxxers warming up your yelling fingers, give me a second because here it comes.

However, if I believe that it’s my body so it’s my choice? I have to offer you the same courtesy. If it’s true for me then it has to be true for you. I don’t have to agree with you. I can’t, for my own personal safety, be anywhere near you, but I can acknowledge that it’s your body so you get to make the choice you believe is right.

Then again, choices have consequences, and the consequences of your actions could very well be the death of someone else.

Then again…again…It’s your body, so it’s still your choice. I can’t deny you something I value. I can’t refuse to respect your physical autonomy while demanding you respect mine. If I do, then I’m a hypocrite. It’s that simple.

But it isn’t simple because the consequences aren’t benign.

The struggle is real! How do I resolutely hold my beliefs, the things I know to be true, without compromise? How do I do that and still respect your differing beliefs or truths? Respect, I think, can be akin to tolerance. I don’t have to like it. In fact, I can wholeheartedly dislike your stance, but that doesn’t mean I dislike or hate you. We disagree, passionately, but we’re both just trying to do our best.

Can we agree on that? You’re doing your best for your body and health. I’m doing my best for my body and health. We’re doing our best. We’re making the best choices based on the information we have and how we interpret that information.

Then again, my life is being threatened, and the lives of people like me are in danger. I’m guessing, you feel like your life, and the lives of your children, are being threatened as well. How do we perfect the fine art of balance and compromise with so much at stake?

It’s no wonder we’re at each other’s throats. We’re so quick to feel defensive or to be angered. Name-calling. Belittling. Physical attacks as well as the dreaded, “Cancel Culture.” We try to tear each other down and destroy each other because this feels like war.

But maybe we’re fighting the wrong battle or we’re just killing each other for the wrong reasons? I honestly don’t have an answer or a solution other than respect. Even if that means I begrudgingly tolerate your opinion and you do the same for me. Agree to disagree? It seems…Inadequate?

Or, it comes down to that good old golden rule: Do to others as you want them to do to you. I want you to respect, tolerate, my opinion without beating me up for it. I want to be treated with kindness rather than bulldogged aggression. I want you to see me, hear me out, without shutting me down or tuning me out. So, even if it pains me, I have to show you the same courtesy. Right?

Damn it, cognitive dissonance! You gave me a headache.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to take my brain off of the spin cycle before my frontal lobe becomes my earlobe.

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