Embracing a different viewpoint

The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Recently, GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle have been getting into a spat over a rather controversial topic: vaccinations. Here’s how the whole story goes. While discussing their upcoming travel plans, the Ninja Turtle mentioned that it would be a good idea to get a flu shot. After all, winter is threatening to descend thick and fast, and what with multiple journeys in the confined spaces of an airplane en route to the other side of the world, the risks of picking up contagious diseases simply increases exponentially.

GodzillaPin was not convinced. This does not surprise the Ninja Turtle; after all, not long ago while chatting with la mère she was a little surprised to learn that skepticism towards vaccinations ran thick and strong in the family. When pressed for an explanation, the only answer she got was “c’est pas bon, les vaccins”. What surprised the Ninja Turtle was how resistant GodzillaPin himself was to the idea. After all, unlike his folks whose lifestyle of never leaving the little quaint village essentially ensures quarantine against all maladies, he was an international traveler. Heck, simply living in a city where one takes public transport already calls for more vigilance in hygiene habits and preventive healthcare.

So the argument continued on and off for several weeks. The Ninja Turtle went to the doctor and sorted out her vaccine, while GodzillaPin held back. Both directly quoted the doctor’s words, perhaps a little out of context, to support their individual arguments.

GodzillaPin: The flu vaccine is mostly for the elderly! (which is true, the doctor did say those very words, but they were followed by: as winters here are very harsh and if the flu develops into bronchitis, death is not unlikely, so we take precautions).

Ninja Turtle: Travel fatigue lowers the immunity, making the organism more vulnerable to infectious diseases (which is also true, the doctor did say words along this line, but they were followed by: so remember to drink plenty of water and get sufficient rest.)

Look, first year students of psychology will immediately see that with confirmation bias and the backfire effect, this argument will very likely continue, if they are so inclined, even after the trip is over. We simply don’t want to see/hear what we don’t wish to see/hear, and when it comes to stubbornness, both GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle are absolute donkeys.

The inevitable solution to all their arguments.

The inevitable solution to all their arguments.

While this disagreement is relatively minor in the grand scheme of their co-existence, there are many other bigger issues which could potentially rear their heads in due time. Religion, for instance. Attitudes towards discipline. Financial management. How the laundry should be folded. You get our drift.

Compromise is sometimes seen as a dirty word, and we are often encouraged to stand up for what we believe and stand firm in our opinions. The former is commendable, but there is always a risk of overdoing the latter. Buying into the notion of one absolute truth is what leads to war. No more helpful is the grudging concession of “there may be several versions of the truth, but my truth is truer than yours”, for it still belies a position of superiority.  It’s within a relationship that one quickly learns to stand on the other side, so to speak, and see the view from over the fence, should one not wish to spend the night on the couch.

The Ninja Turtle finally concluded to back off on the nagging about vaccinations. After all, it does involve a needle poking into the arm, which kind of counts as invasive. GodzillaPin may choose to vaccinate (against not only the flu but other transmissible diseases) or not, and she will refrain from judgement of his choice.

P.S (But she will definitely make sure he keeps far away from her elderly and younger friends and relatives if he chooses not to, because it’s one thing to love and accept your partner regardless of their actions, but it’s simply socially irresponsible to permit vectors of diseases to expose pathogens to more vulnerable members of our society.)

P.P.S (Look, GodzillaPin is French, and they do the whole kiss-kiss thing, which definitely increases the likelihood of germs spreading a gabazillion times.)


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