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Friday, February 25, 2022
Healing and listening vital after vaccination divisions
There are people who have medical conditions that make getting the jab a problem; they need accommodation. They do not need more scapegoating.
Those who oppose the vaccine are not all seething racists, fascist sympathizers or Trump agitators. Apart from rolling up a sleeve to get a needle, most of them are like the rest of us.
Most anti-vaxxers do not lack scientific analysis skills — many are very well-researched.
Some medical professionals who have questioned the vaccine have been placed under gag orders by their professional associations. Why?
Since that commentary appeared, the trucker convoys have rolled into, then out of, Ottawa. In our capital, the occupation brought out the worst in us. Biased reporting, stereotyping, gaslighting and intimidation on all sides.
I have friends in both camps; a few of these friends went to the convoy rallies in front of Parliament Hill. These are bright, accomplished people; they did not see fascists, racists, or terrorists.
They saw families with kids, they saw the bouncy castles and they saw hope. The crowd they saw bore no resemblance to the crowd described in the mainstream media.
And yet, we know about the intimation of residents, the sexist harassment, the ceaseless honking at all hours, and one account of attempted arson. Which view is real? All of them.
The protesters wanted an end to all pandemic restrictions. They claimed to be defending democracy. A convoy supporter taunted the riot police who were confiscating truck fuel with, “Shame! We are doing this for you!”
No, the demonstrators were not doing this for all of us. They were doing this to further their own narrow, self-interests. They wanted to return to a life without pandemic restrictions. Don’t we all?
Those public health decisions must be made by qualified medical experts, not self-appointed lobbyists with no medical training. These decisions should not boil down to a choice between Dr. Theresa Tam versus Pat King.
The protesters claimed that the pandemic restrictions represented the death of democracy in Canada. No. The protesters crowed about the loss of individual freedoms.
The word “solidarity” was not in their vocabulary. The protest vocabulary has become ludicrously toxic: Canada is not a police state. Justin Trudeau is not a contemporary embodiment of Adolf Hitler.
What is the science behind the mandates and the lockdowns? I can only parrot what I have read, but is what I have read true? How would I know?
What about the convoys? Were they legitimate expressions of outrage over dictatorial government regulations or were they acts of domestic terrorism? Or neither? How popular were they?
To move out of this pandemic, we need to listen to each other, agree on facts and come up with plans that can move us onward together. The convoy protesters said they were standing up for democracy.
Whose democracy? What is undemocratic about a national government trying to protect its population from a global disease?
Protesters bemoan their loss of freedom. Whose freedom? What about our collective freedom from the virus? How can we even talk about collective freedom when the discussion has been poisoned by this exclusive fixation on individual rights?
The pro-vax/anti-vax continuum is not two opposing camps that loath each other. Maybe there are 5 or 10 per cent at either end of the continuum who are ironclad radicals. They won’t listen; they won’t change. But they are a small minority.
They are divided by the vast majority — the middle 80 per cent — for whom the vaccine debate is multilayered, complex and personal. This is where the dialogue and the healing could start.
Meanwhile, what is the virus doing? The virus will decide our future, not our mandates or our protests. So, we need to talk. With anger, with great difficulty, but we need to start talking with the other side. We need to start trusting again.
During this pandemic, most of us have been told that something we believe is not true. The healing from this gaslighting will take a long time.
So, what are the next steps? I foresee a network of small circles, less than 10 people, meeting across the country.
What do you see?
Bill Templeman is a writer, career coach, podcaster and consultant based in Peterborough.