*Before you read this, I beg of you just one thing: please read it in its entirety.*
My computer is full of documents I feel like I cannot share. Every time I think I’ve said it “right” I second guess myself. I save the words, file them away, and spend the rest of my waking hours wondering how to calm the cyclone of thoughts and emotions inside of me. I feel them swirl in my head. When I swallow them, they get caught in my throat and the saliva builds like I could vomit, but I push them down until they sit, heavy, in the bottom of my stomach. My chest vibrates and my hands shake. My body hurts from the things I’m keeping to myself. Because it’s just not like me.
I remember a couple of times in high school where a teacher had us put our names on top of a sheet of paper. We passed them around the room and, one-by-one, everyone wrote what they admired about their classmates. What did people say about me? That I wasn’t afraid to say what I thought. And today I wonder, what happened to that girl?
What happened was, that girl, felt safe to share her opinions. That girl could say the wrong thing and apologize for it without it being held over her head forever. That girl didn’t live in fear of having her entire self, labelled because of one opinion. People listened. We didn’t always agree but I had more respectful debates and level-headed conversations in high school than I’ve been able to have in my thirties. You know, during those years when our brains aren’t fully developed and we’re supposedly irrational. But it was then that my curiosity was met with understanding. And I’m afraid that world is disappearing.
My son came home from school and told me that they are discussing bias in the media. How we need to think critically about the things being presented to us on any given platform. Then he told me that nobody mentioned how the media could be swaying our ideas towards the pandemic—that they could pick and choose what to share based on the story they want to tell. I asked him if he brought it up and he looked at me as though I asked if he’d just volunteered to talk to the class about how babies are made.
“No. Obviously not.” He said.
“Because I don’t want people to hate me.”
That’s where we are at. Kids are being teased and bullied for asking questions. They are effectively being cancelled. But it isn’t as though the adults of this world are setting a great example.
People I consider friends or respected acquaintances, have posted things to social media that question the motives, integrity, and overall intelligence of people who support the Freedom Convoy in Canada. Actually, saying “question” is too polite. The posts have been downright insulting. And I wonder if that’s how little they would think about me if they knew I supported the cause. I guess we’ll find out now.
If most of the protestors were truly awful people causing problems, would we not be inundated with headlines? Because people are there, watching and waiting for the protestors to mess up. They’re waiting to catch any bit of violence, hate speech and extremist behaviour. But the headlines are minimal. Sure, there are some things I’ve seen that I absolutely disagree with and I’m not going to claim to know every person behind the protest and all the comments they’ve made in the past. But I believe that the intent behind this movement, for most people, is very pure and while there may be a great number of issues we don’t see eye-to-eye on, I can come together with them on this one: remove the mandates.
In British Columbia, we have endured a cycle of lockdowns and mandates for almost two years. During that time, people have lost their livelihoods, relationships have broken apart, mental health issues have multiplied and there are countless memories we haven’t been able to make. During those two years, we also had the ability to see the real world effects of COVID. Looking at them now, breaking down the numbers, I don’t see how the mandates continue to be justified.
Between the ages of 0 and 59, .09% of known cases resulted in death. For my age group of 30-39, .05% of known cases resulted in death. For 0–19-year-olds the number is .01%. Theoretically, those percentages are even lower, as there are many people who were sick and either didn’t get tested or had a false negative. These numbers all come straight from the latest report from the BC CDC website.
People protest when they aren’t being heard and that is a cornerstone of democracy – not a threat to it. Right now our Prime Minister says Canadians are united but I have never felt more division amongst my community. Our history shows us time and again that governments use fear to convince humans that segregation is necessary and done in the best interest of society. And if you look back at our history, have you ever seen a government cease to take more from their citizens without intervention?
I feel the need to say that I am a middle ground type of girl. I struggle with who to vote for in every election. I take quizzes to see which party I align with and always land smack dab in the middle where no political party truly exists. I am not an extremist in any sense of the word. I believe in equal rights for every human, not just those who it’s convenient for the world to put on a pedestal at any point in time. But I support the removal of mandates. For us and for the future of this country.
Our children deserve better than a segregated society in monumental debt. And they will be the ones to grow up and study the way we handled this pandemic. Assuming we haven’t eradicated their ability to ask questions, they will wonder where we stood and why. I hope they will have more grace for us than we have for each other now.
Maybe this will be it for me. I’ll be unfriended in both worlds: real and virtual. I’ll be painted as a villain who doesn’t care about people. But, I hope that you, whoever is reading this, knows that isn’t true. I care deeply about people. I know that COVID is truly dangerous for certain groups. That it has devastated the elder population of our world and that people who live with comorbidities will still need to be cautious. And it sucks. But we can’t control the world and to live is to assume a certain amount of risk which now includes COVID.
When mandates are lifted I will still respect your decision to wear a mask. If I’m too close to you and you ask for space, I will give it to you. I will respect your freedom to choose the way you go forward and would ask for the same respect in return. Over 90% of our adult population is vaccinated. We will never convince 100% of people to do anything. 90% needs to be enough to move on.
So there you have it I guess. A somewhat coherent piece that I’m not relegating to a folder on my desktop because I’m scared it isn’t “right” Some will love it, some will hate it and I know that it’s not all right or all wrong but that it’s just where I’m at. At least, after writing it, I’m no longer vibrating with unspoken feelings. And now I wonder—in their heads and in their hearts—where are all the other quiet people at?