“The words could explain, but the words won’t come” – from “I love you”, words by Chris White; The Zombies
The most frustrating aspect of the pandemic for me has been my complete failure to persuade people who remain unvaccinated that they should get the shot. These aren’t random people, they’re friends, family, people who are very dear to me and whose presence enriches the world, as least my part of it. Partisanship isn’t in it either, they are from all parties and none; some supported the former president, many did not. The fault is in my inability to find the words that will prove effective in changing their minds.
“They have the proper 9 words. We don’t.” – from Babel-17, Samuel R. Delany
There have been words of scientific evidence, there have been words of support and understanding, there have been, unfortunately, words of condemnation and vituperation that served to upset relationships of long standing. None of these words have been the proper words, no matter how many in number. In the political world, shock words and huge quantities of words that don’t always have meaning and rarely result in action are seen as an end in themselves if they generate clicks, likes or donations. In the real world, absence of action renders the words meaningless regardless of the intention of the speaker.
Perhaps the problem is a lack of shared goals. For most of us, minimizing the impact of Covid-19 is the primary focus right now but, for some, that appears to be secondary at best and possibly not even a consideration beyond a wish that there had been no virus and no millions of deaths from it. There must exist a combination of words that will overcome the barrier and allow us to move forward together but, so far, neither I nor a multitude of people more verbally capable than I am have found it and we continue to lose friends.
The easy solution is to hit the Reset button and take everything back to pre-polarization days but that button exists only in commercials and the Infinity Stones are lost. The harder but essential alternative is for each of us to take responsibility for mending the broken relationships and working through whatever steps are required to see us safely through this crisis.