Romer: Vaccines, boosters, and civility
The increased polarization around vaccines and booster shots is a detriment to our efforts to move forward. Collectively and individually, we need to move forward and recognize that it is OK to disagree without being disagreeable.
This has manifested most recently with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19 after claiming to be “immunized.” Rodgers went on to state — quite accurately — that “the right is gonna champion me and the left is gonna cancel me. I don’t give a s— about either of them. Politics is a total sham.”
There is a lesson to be taken from this, regardless of your viewpoint on Aaron Rodgers and the handling of his vaccination status and positive test. He is right that both sides are to blame for politicizing the vaccine and boosters. I think it is long past time to stop pointing fingers and instead embrace civility and kindness toward others and their differing views.
My decision to get the vaccine and a recent booster wasn’t so much concern for my health but rather my desire to protect those around me who can’t get vaccinated or are immunocompromised. It seems to me that getting a booster is a simple thing we can do to show care for others. That’s my choice, and I’m glad we live in a society that honors individual choice.
Someone else’s decision to not be vaccinated or to get the booster is their choice. I respect and understand their reasons without judgment, and I’m glad we live in a society that honors individual choice.
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We can make different choices and still treat each other with civility and kindness rather than going into deeper and deeper silos, expressing hostility, and refusing to honor the fact that it is OK for individuals to make choices that are best for them and their families. It is OK to get the shot (many have chosen to — and good for them) and it is equally OK to not get the shot if you’re opposed to it (many have chosen not to — and good for them, too).
I’ve seen too many people (often online) who celebrate when someone who has been vaccinated tests positive for COVID-19. Similarly, I’ve seen too many people online who celebrate when someone unvaccinated gets COVID-19. Others call it child abuse when parents make the choice to get your kids vaccinated. Also, don’t compare vaccination and mandates to the atrocities that occurred in Nazi Germany. Don’t do these things. It reflects poorly on you.
Civility and kindness are needed now more than ever — at home, at work, in a functioning society, and online. Kindness is important because it’s contagious. Each act of kindness can change the way we see ourselves, as well as how others see us. Embracing a mindset of civility — rather than an adversarial “us versus them” attitude — allows us to be more compassionate, confident, useful, and in control. I find that embracing kindness allows me to feel more appreciative and optimistic.
Civility, even when we might passionately disagree, can result in others “paying it forward.” This creates a ripple effect where others are encouraged to show kindness within their circles. As humans, we generally like to feel good about ourselves and our environment — and embracing a mindset of civility is a relatively easy way to feel good.
Rodgers was right when he described politicization as a total sham. We can — and must — do better. I encourage everyone to channel their energy away from divisiveness and hostility and toward civility and kindness.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.