Blog entry by Alan Chapman
Vaccines attitudes trends - perspective and cooperation
I read a very interesting article about public views towards vaccines (vaccinations) - an analysis of the shifting dynamics and attitudes on Facebook, which is in some ways a reflection of the wider world.
I wrote (overnight 17/18 May 2020) to the author of the article, Meredith Wadman BM, BCh, a reporter with Science Magazine, Washington D.C. and she replied 18 May, kindly thanking me for my observations, saying, "Alan, thanks for your interesting observations – they are food for thought for me."
Partly on the basis that Meredith found my observations interesting, I share them with you, below.
They address some issues beyond the debates about vaccines/vaccinations that (to me it seems) will be influencing other debates too. I am grateful for Meredith's brilliance in producing the article, and for her kindness and professionalism in replying to me.
Meredith's article is here:
Here's what I sent to Meredith:
I work deeply and internationally in suicide; death too obviously, with significant life-changing 'lived experience'. I'm also engaged deeply in the 'anthropocene' (sixth extinction), internationally.
I offer some observations:
The coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns and public health information announcements (much highly confusing/disorientating), have changed the ways that many people think and feel about their own and family health, and their relationship with life, death, universe; everything. Really, everything : )
This change will likely continue as societies, especially in the most severely disrupted nations, and esp big cities, process their very real traumas (regardless of any objective measures of infection/illness/death rates). N.B. It is the perceived/felt trauma that matters, not objective 'reality' (whatever that is), and for many people, the pandemic equates to a near-death experience, or similar.
We must also consider the further ravaging of the disadvantaged and neglected sections of society in the pandemic aftermath, for example in grief and debt, and the descent to more dangerous ill-health (comorbidities, addictions, lack of support and education, etc).
I add that there is no doubt that the pandemic and lockdowns (esp lots of time for sharing information and reflecting) have brought the anthropocene (more popularly 'climate change', 'ecosystem', etc) into much higher clearer visibility for very big sections of society. Also many 'urban lifestyle' people have used their time to explore parks and family time in nature, etc. We might even suggest a zeitgeist.
All of the above tend to shift attitudes away from vaccinations, in many and various ways.
The above is not perfect science, nor even science, but it is my interpretation based on quite a lot of life and death experience.
Best wishes and thanks
footnote - on perspective and cooperation
To me, perspective is responsible for almost everything, when we are trying to understand anything.
We see the world, and life and death and universe and everything, through our own experiences (and, according to science and observable indications), we also see the world, and life and death and universe and everything, through a genetically inherited aspect of ourselves too.
And both of these perspectives interact and cooperate and conflict, mutually, and also with our external environment, especially other people - personally and via media (all of which has similar vast complexities affecting their own perspectives).
Our external and internal experiences include memories and history, and projections and thoughts and feelings about the future, and all of this is constantly changing.
Interestingly most of us do not give much time and energy, nor attach great significance, to the present; the now, the moment, which is another subject, yet very relevant.
And so perspective is highly complicated. Infinitely complicated, depending on your, and our collective views of the universe and the notion of infinity.
Note that collective views and collective perspective are significant too. My use of the word 'zeitgeist' refers to this in one of many ways.
A conclusion from all this, besides the specific consideration of the vaccines debate, and where it's all headed, is that when we attempt to understand anything, we must also try to understand our own perspective, and the perspectives of the people and systems which have interests in whatever subject we are addressing.
This leads us to cooperation, which is ultimately perhaps the most successful aspect of humanity, and where we find and build on hope.