Maintaining public confidence that all will be well has been one of the toughest jobs facing municipal officials – elected and employed – since the first wild sparks set British Columbia on fire last summer to great waves of atmospheric rivers that have swept across the province, savaging everything in their path.
In the main, all levels of government – federal, provincial, and municipal – have earned plaudits for their efforts to fight fire, flood and the great marathon of COVID-19 with its ongoing mutations.
But there is amongst us a strong community of people who wish to be different. They feel that humans who believe some laws governing communal living are required are sheep blindly following seductive pipers. They believe the majority of medical doctors who are trying to keep people healthy, mending them in surgery and putting them back together if badly injured by accident or fate, are linked in a conspiracy.
These people believe they are the freedom fighters, unafraid to face and challenge those who are trying to lead the world astray.
A few evenings ago, the mayor of one small town said one of the greatest difficulties facing him and his staff have been the “posting of misinformation” on the Internet. He urged his TV audience to check only the official municipal web page that is updated regularly with advisories on open and closed roads, landslide threats, flood zones, and roads that should be avoided.
At a time of public stress, it is astounding, but not surprising, that misinformation would be a weapon of choice. The “freedom” to post misinformation must be the most abused freedom in the world, and there is no sign that this abuse is waning.
It isn’t abuse confined to BC or Canada. In the UK, where the populace lived with restrictions of social freedoms and survived great hardships during the Second World War, the current population is not proving as amenable to the idea that minor sacrifice today can lead to victory tomorrow.
A few days ago, The Guardian newspaper prefaced the following comment by noting that 70,000 died in the London Blitz and 145,000 lives have been claimed so far by COVID-19:
“For all their constant bleating about the government trying to control them, it’s a shame the poppy-shaggers and online warriors have absolutely zero understanding of how deeply embedded in people’s lives government was in the last world war, in the interests of the wider public good. How would these people have coped with rationing for years and years on end? Being told by the state how many ounces of basic ingredients you were allowed per week feels a bit more of a pisser than being told to wear a mask while you load up your trolley with pounds and pounds of the stuff in Asda (a British supermarket).”
In British Columbia, the dissenters forget they have parents and grandparents who, in their young families, lost children to diseases that can be held at bay and cured by today’s advanced medical science. In my family, we lost a sister before I was born, a brother at the age of five when I was 10, and four years later, a brother aged 18. Two survivors out of five wasn’t a bad average for a family like ours close to 100 years ago.
Hard to believe that a denier of the benefits of modern medicine would refuse to wear a mask or accept a proven vaccine in the face of overwhelming evidence that refusal is a near guarantee that someone will die as a result.