I was listening to a radio interview last week where the Chief of the Calgary Fire Department was being interviewed in response to a few CFD members participating in an anti-vax / anti-mask protest. During this interview, the Chief made the following statement a couple of times:
"There are some interesting conversations right now between … [the] decent women or men who make up the majority of our 1,500 employees, and a small minority who are choosing to make this protest," Dongworth (Calgary Fire Chief) said.”
HOLD THE BUS - I am concerned with what I see, and this article puts a fine point on it. I am a firm believer in vaccines and good, peer-reviewed science. I am frustrated with the number of folks choosing not to get the vaccine and ignore masking etc.
Likely, many of these are indeed “decent women and men” too. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we passionately disagree on several issues, but these disagreements don’t make them vile or not “decent people.” I personally know, and I am long-time friends with, some folks who choose to resist vaccines/health restrictions, etc. Most are sincere in their belief and what they think they know. They believe strongly in ideas of freedom (as they understand freedom).
My point is that many of these folks are our neighbours, friends, family - who love their families, who have been active in the community, schools and have contributed in big and small ways to our community life. These are folks that we have shared a beer in the backyard, laughed with around the table at Wing Wednesday, cheered/played together at the hockey/curling rink or school functions. These are good decent people.
We disagree on some serious stuff right now.
We can disagree passionately and still respect each other - dare I say it … love one another.
Sooner or later, this F@$%& pandemic will be over/controlled, and life will return to normal(ish), and we will have to move on together as families, neighbours and friends. To do this well, we need need to resist the urge to dehumanize each other. We must disagree/wrestle with the issues together so that when that time comes, we can indeed move on together - in a way that reconciliation is possible.
We need to listen carefully to others to hear/discern the underlying fears/emotions of what they perceive is happening. We need to understand that they, too, are experiencing stress and are quite likely responding to the grief associated with change, understanding that COVID-19 may be the straw that broke the camel's back.
When we realize the issue really isn't the issue we can begin to address the real issues, and it's here that we will discover our common humanity afresh and make a way forward together. We can respond with genuine compassion while firmly taking the steps consistent with the best science available to take care of people through the pandemic.
Yes, this is a really bumpy patch right now and it's really hard for all of us. (My Captain Obvious statement)
Yes, let's debate and wrestle with the issues passionately while we tenaciously practice forgiveness with one another.
Yes, let's take the steps to protect people's health (including protecting our healthcare system) but at all costs, let us resist the urge to demonize/dehumanize one another, for this is a virus for which there is no vaccine.