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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Phoenix Riting!

A trucker convoy, on the face of it, is a terrible idea: those machines suck vast quantities of diesel and that raises red flags for me. For goodness sake, is it sponsored by the oil and gas industry? The views of the hardcore few are another glaring red flag. Still, I don’t believe in throwing the baby out, no matter how gross the bathwater. Many ordinary Canadians have joined with the truckers, and many more support them in spirit. Among the protesters, a high proportion are vaccinated but feel strongly enough about vaccine mandates to feel compelled to support this action. The mandates are the issue, not vaccinations.

 

It’s no small ordeal to drive across Canada in the depths of winter. I’ve done it, and I hope never again. What desperate power drives people to drive so far for an outdoor protest in bitter cold? It’s been two years, and rather than releasing, restrictions increase. Pressure has been building relentlessly, and collective emotions can’t take it. There is a fringe minority of extremists involved in this trucker convoy, and that sucks. But what should matter is the far larger core of citizens who have hit their limit, who are ready and desperate for change.

 

When people come together in solidarity, they feel uplifted and pressure is released. They gather, sing songs together and feel a part of something important. I can’t go so far as to unconditionally support the movement. I worry too much about forces that are intertwined and using people’s desperation to further their ends. But the people themselves are not wrong. Someone created an opening and desperate humans are flowing through it. I understand their feelings, and there are so many worse ways it could manifest. So far there have been zero incidents of violence and no arrests.

 

Canada is close to 90% vaccinated, but it seems nothing short of 100% will do. It is not possible to get 100% of humans to agree on anything. There will always be those who won’t, or can’t, submit to an injection they don’t feel safe with. Instead of finding or creating accommodations, the irresistible force (mandate that threatens livelihoods) is meeting the immovable object (“No one has the right to tell me what to do with my own body”). Vaccine mandates were meant to be a temporary measure, but they have gone on now for months with no end in sight. Is this the ‘new normal’? Are we meant to shut up and put up forever? It is no wonder people are on edge.

 

Here’s where it becomes a local issue. I’ve seen a few posts from Facebook friends, saying, “If you support this trucker convoy, please unfriend me now.” Everyone’s emotions are raw, and some are resorting to a kind of righteous absolutism, digging in and drawing lines in the sand. “Good people on this side, bad people on that side.” It makes me sad and tired. You can unfriend people on Facebook, but you can’t erase them from your community. What do you say to an unfriend when you meet in the produce department?

 

I won’t unfriend you. My ability to put myself in others’ places and perceive the world as they do helps me understand why people support the trucker convoy. It also helps me understand why others are so fed up and ready to be done with the ones who don’t comply. It all seems so simple and clear, when you are on the side of the ‘right’. If only everyone would comply with the rules, this could all be over soon! But the truth is, humanity isn’t a machine. We are organic, emotional and spiritual creatures, and while many try, others simply can’t and won’t comply with a heartless, mechanical way of living, no matter how efficient it may be at keeping us safe. We spill over and out the sides. We react and act out. We weren’t built for this kind of life.

 

On the other side of all of this, I pray we find a better, more humane and inclusive way to live as a society and as a community.

 

What do you think of all this? I would love to hear from you! Email me at phoenixonhornby@gmail.com

 

publishermike

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