Hi. I’m Liza and I want to be your friend.
Let’s make a few things clear: I am not writing you this letter to convince you to think like me. I am not writing you this letter because I am mad at you. This letter WILL NOT be addressing autism. The conversation around vaccines and autism hurts my heart too much. I hope you will respect that. I am writing you this letter because I don’t know what else to do. I’ve always heard that writing letters is a therapeutic way to get out your feelings, so I’d thought I would give it a shot (no pun intended).
I want you to keep reading. Please don’t click out now because you don’t agree with me. Now, more than ever in this world, we need to be willing to learn from each other. We need to normalize hearing the other side of the story. If you write me a letter, I will read it.
Humans have two purposes on this earth: to support each other and to learn from each other. These are the only two things that matter. If we all took the time to learn from each other we would support each other more effectively. If we all took the time to support one another we would be more open to hearing one another’s views. And then equality, respect and love just fall right into place.
I am in full support of vaccines. In fact, I am more than just in support of them, I am excited and amazed by them.
If I am being honest with you, I actually hate needles. Thinking about them makes my arm hurt and my eyes water a little. I am twenty-one years old and I still cry every time I get a shot. My mom used to have to take me out of town to get my flu shot because she was embarrassed by how loud I would scream in the clinics. Not much has changed, just a little less screaming and she still buys me a chocolate bar after to make me feel better.
Okay, I told you a story about my childhood? We’re friends now, right?
Great, I am glad you are still here.
I think one thing we can agree on is that this world is scary. The future is uncertain and our lives have been turned upside down.
I feel scared because the vaccine roll out is moving too slowly.
Perhaps, you feel scared because too many people are getting the vaccine as it rolls out.
And that’s okay.
I could not care less if YOU get the vaccine. If you are morally opposed to the vaccine – this isn’t a battle worth fighting. I am not going to change your mind and I respect myself too much to fight you. You probably feel the same way about me.
Here’s what I do care about:
When you make a post on social media about the dangers of the vaccine and persuade people not to get it, I want you to think about my dearest friends from my group home job.
Here are a few stark realities for them:
- The virus will hurt them so badly, if not kill them.
- This means no family visits, no outings, no celebrations, no visitors, no hugs, no meals together. They have not been around a person without PPE for over a year.
When you post on Facebook that people should not be getting the vaccine, you are neglecting to stand in solidarity with the people who have been praying for this vaccine, because they would like to live. They would like to live their lives outside of the walls of their home but also quite literally, they would also like to stay alive.
If you have the privilege to chose to not get the vaccine, please acknowledge that there are many people suffering in silence that you are not considering with your comments on social media. A healthy diet, exercise and a boosted immune system is not going to cure disability, and as long as my friends at the group home are disabled, they are the utmost vulnerable population. Remember this.
For me, though I don’t like needles, I will be getting the vaccine because it is bigger than me. It means I will live a long healthy life alongside my group home family.
Just like I have chosen to get the vaccine, you can choose not to get the vaccine. But, when you start yelling on social media about your beliefs about the vaccine, you invalidate the position of others.
Moving forward – when you share your opinion on social media, do so gracefully. Remember that for the people I love most, the vaccine is a means of survival. A world without a vaccine is a world of survival of the fittest on a planet where the disabled community wouldn’t have a fighting chance against this virus.
I don’t live in a world where only the non-disabled people survive, nor would I ever want to. Neither should you – which means that you cannot fail to acknowledge the lifeline that is the vaccine.
I would get ten thousand vaccines if it meant that I did not have to fear everyday that my group home family would get sick and cut their beautiful lives short.
I want them to come to my wedding and meet my children one day. Just like you want for your family one day.
I will be getting the vaccine. You might not be getting it and I have no control over that. But, when you post on social media that the vaccine is useless, remember how Scared Liza wrote you this letter because she is seeing your posts and it is hurting her feelings.
Believe what you want but be careful what you say.
Like I opened this letter with, I don’t care if you think or act like me. I care that you respect me and my group home family.
I admire you a lot for reading this letter, especially if you disagree with me. That takes guts.
Our only two goals in this life are to learn from each other and to support each other. Let’s do this by calling each other INto conversations and not calling each other OUT and getting upset by our opposing beliefs. I am calling YOU into the conversation about disability and the vaccine and I cannot thank you enough for listening.
Your new friend,
Follow along to hear all about the ups and downs in direct support work, young adult life, and allyship – it sure has given me lots to write about! Enjoy some casual, light-hearted tales about all my adventures along the way.
You have a beautiful heart Liza and a wonderful way with words!
Thank you so much Gail!!