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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Ambivalence is not weakness

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In his latest piece, opinion columnist Sam Somogye discusses both sides of the COVID-19 vaccine and weighs the pros and cons. 

One of the defining moments of my generation was the breakthrough of the COVID-19 vaccine. When the announcement finally came that a vaccine had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, I remember feeling nothing but relief. “It’s over,” I thought to myself. A foolish sentiment, I know, but it felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
I got my vaccine as soon as I was able. I drove down to the Brazos Center, feeling a range of emotions extending from excited to nervous. It felt like I was taking part in history, and in a way, I was. I got my second dose the exact date I was scheduled, and after experiencing some minor symptoms, I was fine.
For a brief moment, life started to seem normal again. Sadly, nothing lasts forever.
Now we are a nation once again drowning in uncivil discourse, and the topic on the hot seat is a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
If you’ve read my columns, you know I am not unsure about my opinions, especially when regarding a hot-button issue. However, I’m not exactly sure where I stand on this issue.
And that’s OK.
I do lean toward the anti-vaccine mandate side of the argument. Overall, I believe the government has no place in telling me what I should do with my body. My beliefs regarding government are simple: in general, the less it is involved, the better. This spans from economics to social issues. The government should step in when needed, but never at the cost of infringing on the liberties of its citizens — end of story.
However, that does not mean I’m unable to see the merits of the other side of the argument.
The main reason I hear from people who are for an inoculation mandate is that in Texas, there are already a number of vaccines we are required to have to attend school. In fact, there are seven vaccines you have to have by the time you’re in the seventh grade in order to attend a public school in Texas.
The COVID-19 vaccine has also proven to be extremely effective and overall very safe. So, if everyone did have to take it, it would not be a massive death sentence, as some might want you to believe.
These are indisputable facts that must be addressed if you’re not for a vaccine mandate. Yet, I still struggle getting behind the idea of the government forcing the public to do something that should be a privately, individually made decision.
Being unsure about some things and being able to see the points of the other side of an argument is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, we live in a society that has cultivated a culture of strictly “right or wrong.” It causes awkward family dinner conversations, deadlocks in Congress and sometimes ruins relationships.
In a week’s time, I could be presented with new information and have a completely different take on this issue than I do now. And this shouldn’t be viewed as weak, like many will have you believe. There is no shame in changing your stance on something once you’ve seen the problem from different angles.
Our nation would be better off if we accepted the fact that it’s OK to change your mind from time to time. If everyone stayed stuck in their ways, women still wouldn’t be able to vote and gay marriage would still be illegal. A forward-moving nation must have forward-thinking citizens. Part of that is being able to realize you don’t always have to be right for the sake of being right, or fall on one side of an issue because your political party, family or friends say you should.
We, as a society, need to understand that a lot of issues are not black and white. In fact, most are not. If we want to solve these issues and bring about real change, whether it be vaccine mandates or voting laws, we need to understand that seeing the other side of an issue, even if we may not be fully behind it, is not a bad thing.
Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion.

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