It’s how you say it

Corina Beimers—Staff Writer

As a child, my parents always reminded me, “It’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it.”

The other weekend, I talked about the COVID-19 vaccine with a room full of other people. I had received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this past April through Dordt University’s vaccination clinic. I was and still am thankful for the opportunity. 

We conversed about our varying reactions to the vaccines, and I mentioned how mine had left me feeling pretty terrible for the next day or two. While talk about vaccinations can turn so opinionated and political, the discussion was a light. It wasn’t riddled with politics or ethics. 

An individual entered the room and quickly monopolized the discussion. They declared the Johnson and Johnson vaccine contained aborted baby tissue and signified their disconcent by making an ‘X’ with their arms. 

“Okay,” I said. I couldn’t reply with anything else.

I don’t really care about your argument, evidence, or ethical opinion on the rights and wrongs of vaccines. I think our collective American society has heard about every argument under the sun. This article isn’t really about COVID-19. It’s not about what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s about remembering the humanity of the person next to you, remembering that words can sting, remembering that you don’t know the other person’s life story. 

If you feel so strongly about vaccination to the point where you can’t interact with someone who disagrees with you, it’s exhausting for the rest of us. If you feel so strongly about something that you feel the need to throw shame on someone when they counteract you, please reconsider the place this thing holds in your worldview. If you can’t get through this article without being judgmental, ask yourself why.

I think I’ve reached the point where I don’t care as much about what people are saying, but how they are saying it.   

There are endless divisive and controversial issues in our country: critical race theory, government spending, and recent abortion laws in Texas, to name a few. Dordt University community is not exempt from these conversations. 

When you enter a space and assume everyone agrees with you on issue of vaccination, religion, or politics, you cast shame, judgement, and offense on the other side.

I’ve taken classes with professors who assume the opinions and lives of the students—that nobody in the class has been involved with an abortion, that nobody in the class has dealt with an eating disorder, that everyone is conservative, or that everyone is straight. 

I ache for the girl who was given a BMI lab while living with bulimia. I do not wish to imagine the shame or struggle of one my peers who may have dealt with an abortion. I cringe for the student who was degraded for voting for Biden. 

I should never have to sit in a room full of boys who snicker and roll their eyes at me because I speak my mind for women’s rights. There isn’t anyone who should have to experience these situations, especially on a campus like ours.

This isn’t about the rightness and wrongness of our opinions. This isn’t argumentative. This is a reminder to think about your words before you speak them—a reminder that if you’re more focused making someone feel stupid for their decisions than being loving and encouraging, then you’re doing it wrong. 

The nature of our conversations as being filled with respect is crucial to our Kingdom work. We must be able to live with others who think differently than us. 

Why should my sister’s classmates pester her for loving the LBGTQ+ community? Why should others be bullied for not supporting former-President Trump? Why should vaccinated people be unwelcome in the homes of the unvaccinated? 

I’m over this culture of people who simply try to yell louder than the person next to them. 

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It is that simple. 

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