I wish the media would stop reporting on the deepening clashes between the vaccinated and the anti-vaccinated as if it were a fait accompli, rather than suggesting ways to heal this division.

The vaccinated look down on the unvaccinated as irresponsible because they fail to consider that being unvaccinated means, if they get COVID, that they also can infect others and spread the virus. The unvaccinated feel that government-mandated vaccinations are an infringement on their personal freedom. Others opposed don’t trust the vaccines or believe in their efficacy.

These divisions, which are becoming increasingly violent, are distracting us from coming together to build strong communities. We are lacking in mutual understanding.

To bridge this gap, I suggest local listening projects, where individuals representing opposing views meet in a supportive environment led by a moderator experienced in communication skills. Schools, churches, synagogues and libraries are logical settings. The listening groups would be composed of pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination volunteers.

One possible format would be for volunteers to pair up and take turns sharing their beliefs. The other’s role is to listen without interruption. When the speaker has finished with their explanation, the listener repeats back what was said, asking for confirmation. This back and forth continues until the speaker is satisfied that they have been understood, and then they switch roles. The moderator is there to offer feedback and keep things on track.

Patricia Taub

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