Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Nation of Hall Monitors - The End of Community

A strong community with neighbours who care about each other is far better protection from Covid than a vaccine passport.

Last year at this time my wife and I were very nervous. School was about to start and sending an immune-compromised kid to school was more than a little nerve-racking. We knew some measures were put in place to prevent the spread of Covid but that remained to be seen. At the time cases were quite low and we didn't think the risk was very high but there was no guarantee it would stay that way. 

Inevitably after Thanksgiving cases did start to rise. What happened in our community was interesting. I recall vividly going to the grocery store and where I saw only a handful of masks being used, a few weeks earlier,  I now started to see more and more masks. I recall many people being more cautious and adjusting their lives accordingly. It was nice to see the community pulling together. 

I had a lot of confidence in our community. When Covid first appeared in our province - compliance to rules was rather amazing...despite the toilet paper crisis.  At the time we didn't know a whole lot and there was genuine unity...however with the insertion of politics into the pandemic - credibility quickly plummeted.  Masks were not effective - then they were.  Certain gatherings were openly sanctioned - others were reviled.  Snowbirds headed to sunny destinations while the bulk of the population languished under lockdowns. The rules seemed to apply to some and not others.

Despite a lot of goodwill from the public, our government overseers were not satisfied. Instead of making the case, being transparent, and providing information - our leaders implemented a series of public health orders. The people who were already taking appropriate action were punished and those who broke the rules - continued to break the rules. "We're all in it together" became a punch line. 

With the introduction of vaccines - there was hope for getting back to normal. However, perhaps predictably - vaccines themselves began to drive our community apart. Even though there was a great demand for the vaccines - that wasn't enough.  Incentives and talk of vaccine mandates took centre stage. Public health officials and politicians openly stated that punitive measures must be taken to ensure "compliance."  It wasn't that vaccine passports work - it was to drive vaccination rates. The resistance increased. Arguments over informed consent, constitutional freedoms, and personal freedom ensued. Family members stopped talking to each other. Neighbours began being suspicious and in some cases were encouraged to report "suspicious" activity.  We've become a nation of hall monitors.

Government officials are now treating their own population as disobedient children. The concept of positive reinforcement had been abandoned for the "Carrot and Stick" approach - with an increasing emphasis on the "stick."

Now - a year later...approaching another school year. Our apprehension has returned. Why?  Are we concerned about Covid.  Not really.  Are we more concerned about another stressful year of threats of lockdowns and school closure - Yes, 

I still recall meeting with my son's school before he started Kindergarten 8 years ago. We did as best we could to explain my son's health conditions and the risks he lives with every day due to a compromised immune system. Honestly, we tried everything we could do to put the fear of God into the school and how we were to be informed of any outbreaks of measles, chickenpox, or any of the standard communicable diseases that could pose a risk to our son. 

We knew that not everyone vaccinates.  Did it frustrate us - yes - but it was unlikely to change.  So we had to do it alone.  As we always have. We tried to use common sense, get the best advice, and take actions appropriately to minimize risk. We had to weigh the risks against giving our son the most normal life possible. Our choice then - and our choice now is that it is worth the risk. What is the point of saving a child's life if you take away every normal aspect of that life by restricting them at every turn? We live with that risk every day.

One of the best ways we have found to reduce risk is by informing everyone around us about our risks. Our friends, neighbours, and family are all aware and because they are informed - they make accommodations for us. If they have a sniffle or cough - they visit another day. We informed the school so that they would take note of any children or staff who might be sick. Although we could never control who attends school - they could at least make us aware so that we can make a decision to keep our son at home? Quarantines are not new to us.

Amazingly, many people in our community stepped up.  I recall talking to one mom at daycare who shared that her daughter was sick - not a big deal - but she thought of our son and decided to stay home from work and not send her to daycare.  I've received dozens of phone calls over the years from our school when they were notified by a parent that their child had strep, measles, or some other ailment.

Our community became a bulwark to protect us.  No one was obligated to share their information - but they did.  They felt it was the right thing to do. Strong communities do that - because most people are decent. At one time this was commonplace.  We used to look out for each other.

In today's environment - do you think any reasonable parent is going to share any health information with the school about their children?  Not a chance. They don't want to become a target.  As such - important information about any illness in our community will likely be concealed.  In the past, there were likely many instances where we were provided information that we probably shouldn't have. However, knowing our situation many people skirted the rules and provided us much-needed information. Those days are over.

Our lives have become significantly more challenging because a lot of the informal communication tools we used to use are no more. Strict adherence to rules and regulations has now become the norm in our society and is observed with almost religious fervour.  It may seem facetious but I really think a lot of people need to "get a life" and I mean that in the truest sense of the words.

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