Patience: The Risks Remain High

Tough questions, tougher answers, and I begin to wonder if we have now been so battered around the clock and from every inhabited part of our planet with news of fresh or pending disasters that we have reached Rhett Butler’s breaking point in the classic movie “Gone With The Wind.”

Remember? Of course you do. Scarlett had just finished her latest recitation of how badly she felt treated by life and fate, and Rhett had snapped: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”… as the fog rolled in, the credits marched across the screen and those of us old enough to have spent three hours watching an epic movie walked home through a blacked-out world back to a real-world standing poised to explode.

It was 1939. My world was England. Safe, secure. A schoolboy well acquainted with maps, I was taught that half the world was painted pink – the British Empire. Invincible. Even father, a First World War veteran, said so. “They know what they’re doing,” he said.

It took some time for us to realize that the first casualty of war had always been “the truth.” And so it was when I was growing up, and Winston Churchill started to feed the people unpleasant facts. He fudged once in a while, sat on bad news occasionally, but by and large, all he offered was “blood, sweat, toil and tears” and the confident assurance “we shall pull through.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, guiding light for public health affairs in BC, prefers gentler words. She asks critics to be kind – not “soft,” just “kind” – and always with the added Churchillian assurance that “we shall pull through.”

She reminds me of the poet Rev. Geoffrey Anketell Studdert-Kennedy (cct) I have long admired and quoted. He was nicknamed “Woodbine” Willy in the First World War because of his less than priestly habit when “to the men, I should have offered grace, I put off with a cigaret.” (Woodbine was a cigarette brand. It is estimated that the chaplain gave away 865,000 cigarettes at his own expense.)

I’m not suggesting Dr. Bonny wander hospital wards offering Woodbines to the dying; just that in her choice of words, she reflects the kindness and caring well earned by health care professionals since Florence Nightingale. Just a few days ago, in one of her weekly reports to the public, Dr. Bonny said: “We are immunizing more people every day, and in parallel slowly turning the dial on the restrictions we have in place. We must remember the risk for all of us remains high, particularly with indoor activities – whether for work or social reasons.

“As a result, to get through this storm and continue to protect our loved ones, we must all continue to use our safety layers and follow all of the public health restrictions we have in place.”

Readers could help her cause by learning those few words and reciting them to those among us, shedding crocodile tears for feeling democratically deprived of places to imbibe. For emphasis, they can quote Rhett Butler’s last words to Scarlett.

As a reminder, running alongside our COVID-19 pandemic on a separate track but demanding attention from “health care” workers is the number of deaths due to toxic illicit drugs. “It highlights the ongoing critical risk to public health and safety from the illicit drug market,” says Lisa Lapointe, BC’s chief coroner, in her latest public report.

“I extend my sincere sympathy to everyone who has lost a beloved family member or friend to substance use. The continued tragic and unprecedented rate of death in BC highlights the urgent need for a multi-faceted, evidence-based and accessible system of care for those experiencing problematic substance use.”

The total number of deaths is the largest ever recorded in the month of February and an increase of 107 percent over the total number of deaths recorded in February 2020. The average of 5.5 lives lost each day makes February the second consecutive month in which the average number of daily deaths was above five. The 1,724 deaths recorded in 2020 work out to an average of 4.7 deaths a day. (My emphasis)

Also of note; 15 percent of the lives lost in 2021 were people 60 years of age and older, and 40 percent were over age 50. These increasing numbers continue a trend that has been observed in older age cohorts over the last several years.


  1. Perhaps those 5.5 people dying each day from toxic illicit drugs are exercising some democratic right, although this has to be a corruption of democracy. But they really only harm themselves if we overlook the grief felt by loved ones.

    However, those who protest being “deprived of places to imbibe” or protest wearing masks cannot invoke democratic privilege as their defence because their goals put the health and lives of others at risk.

    For them we do not give a damn.

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