In This Together (or The Covid Divide)

by Amber — January 13, 2022
In this together to the finish line, woman crosses finish line

When this started we were all in this together. In our rush to the Covid finishing line are we creating bigger problems and further division?

For almost two years we’ve been faced with many decisions that we thought we’d never have to make. We’re living a life that was unexpected and once thought to be fictional. While it feels like the finish line is here and we’ll do anything to make it over that red line, are we creating bigger problems to deal with later?

I am exhausted, to start. I am confused, to add another layer. Also, angry and anxious. Oh! Overwhelmed, yes, let’s add overwhelmed to the list. If I could take a break, I would. But the reasons we haven’t will take us on a tangent you don’t want to read about, so I’ll skip that part.

A few months ago I deemed myself the chief marketing officer for the “Move To Yellowknife. We Have this Covid Thing Figured Out” campaign. Because we were kicking Covid butt up here people! With the exception of two weeks in May, our kids went to school every day for the entire school year in 2020/21. We were all in this together, so if we had a case, it came from a traveller who was already in quarantine (because they travelled). As a result, there was no community spread, no hospitalizations and no deaths. We went to restaurants, we visited friends, we had Farmer’s Markets and music festivals and masks were not mandatory.

So, what has changed?

Chained fence with road closed sign

Our boarders have been closed since March of 2020. Our little isolated city had became a fortress. No one was allowed out or in (without approval from Public Health). But this summer Public Health, who has been risk adverse through this whole pandemic, saw numbers and trends that safely pointed to the next step. Opening up our boarders and loosening isolation requirements. Family and friends (no tourism) could come and go (with approval from Public Health) once again. Our vaccination numbers were high, our covid cases were still low and the cases outside our protected boarders were also low.

Vaccinated residents could travel and not isolate upon return. And so they did. And then one simple hand shake (exaggerated for artistic flare) at a local sporting event shut down several smaller communities as covid cases crawled closer and closer to Yellowknife. When it arrived Public Health immediately shut down extra-curricular activities for the kids and two weeks later closed the schools… schools closed two weeks after the school year started, for what was supposed to be a ten day circuit breaker and ended up being a six week lock down.

Our restaurant moved back to take out only. I home schooled and crammed in work where I could while sharing two computers between three of us and my husband worked around the clock to keep our business operating safely, smoothly and efficiently. Leaving me to single parent for those six weeks.

Through all of this, and I know I wasn’t the only one, there was a strong underlining resentment to those that were not vaccinated. A popular belief that if everyone would just do the ‘right’ thing we wouldn’t be in this mess. I lived there for a bit, maybe longer than I should have.

Mobile phone open on Covid-19 health app with QR code, in this together

The Debate

If you recall a previous post from me, I was vaccine hesitant. A fact I forget every now and again, especially when I’m surrounded by so many others who believe, without a doubt, that they’ve made the right choice. But here’s the thing, I still have doubts. Which makes me a bit of a middleman and it’s not a comfortable place to be.

I don’t know why I feel like I have to pick sides. So much for being in it together. If it came down to brass tacks, I guess I already have, but I don’t know that it’s in me to sit comfortably in the vaccination camp without pointing out that this is not a black and white debate.

Enter the vaccination passport meets proof of vaccination here. This new step creates a whole new argument and for me, has me wondering if this is really the best way to move on? By leaving others behind? Other humans, I’d like to highlight.

We’re tired, exhausted, ready to get back to normal, but I wonder if going out and watching a movie in a real-life movie theatre, while others are still sentenced to a life of Netflix, so we can do that is worth it.

Mentioning that I believe being unvaccinated isn’t a choice for many, is important to this thought process for me. And I’m not talking about medical reasons or allergies. Those who are vaccinated, found it easy, there was not a single hurdle standing in their way. Taking this step was in them, perfectly aligned with their character. Each step they took in life, all the things they believe in, their ideas of right and wrong and their views on medication and the world, who influences them, who they trust, all of it, put them first in line to save the world. Because this is who they are.

The journey for those who are not yet vaccinated and may never be, is very different. And I don’t have it fully figured out yet, but will attempt to put myself in someone else’s shoes, for just a few minutes (which can be added to the hours I’ve already stressed and debated over this one). The moments that lead to this decision may have created a human being that was perfectly formed to have a different opinion. The things they believe in, their ideas of right and wrong, their views on medication and the world, along with those who influence them, who they trust, all of it, created the person they are today. And by asking them to get vaccinated, you’re asking them to give up a piece of themselves. That’s not easy.

My best example is a small town doctor in a far away province who has unvaccinated patients who are afraid if they get their doses they’ll go to hell, because that is what their Minister is preaching to them. For a human that was raised to fear God and bow to the pulpit remaining unvaccinated is not a choice.

There are those that grew up angry, whose lives were hard and filled with people they couldn’t trust, including authority. They believe the conspiracy theories and asking them to change over night and do what you believe is right won’t happen easily, because years of therapy takes time.

There are those who believe these vaccines won’t save the world. In fact, they believe those who have it may die or get sick and by not getting their dose they ensure the world survives, because they were smart enough to pause and ask questions. Asking them to change their minds will need proof that only comes with time.

And then there are those who feel punished and believe their hesitancy and their right to choose is being challenged. They are the rebellious group who will not sway simply because you tell them to. They’d rather be punished than prove you right.

Oh! And let’s not forget those who have been lost in the covid hole. So many changes, new rules, back and forth, here and there with new information pouring into every information giving device we have, until they are frozen and want to stay in their quiet and simple little bubble and pretend that the world has not changed one single bit… Asking them to make a choice in this high anxiety state is not going to result in quick answers.

women in boxing gloves sits on floor, she looks sad or disappointed

Believe… Because We Are Still in This Together

The word believe shows up intentionally. I believe we have the right to choose what we put into our body and should not be punished for it. I also believe we have a right to protect our population and to make rules and laws to keep everyone safe. I believe that at some point we have to open up the world again and see what happens. All of this feels good to me and asking me to believe anything different will result in a hearty and possibly damaging debate, because what we believe is part of what makes us, us….

Should we be punished for that? Isolated and segregated? Are we creating a new ‘other’, a new minority in a world that is fighting pretty hard for inclusion across the board? Is there a better way to maneuver our future? Do we need to draw a line in the sand?

Fear is a strong emotion. Sometimes it is irrational and other times it protects us against real dangers. It is not something we let go of easily. Both sides of this debate are experiencing fear!

I fear that our tired and exhausted brains and bodies want to see the end of this so badly that we’re not looking at what this may mean for our future. I fear that these are steps toward a bigger problem. I’m reminded that Hitler used the tired and angry Germans to push his agenda forward and pinned all of Germany’s problems on the Jewish population and wonder if we don’t check our own mental state that we may start lashing out at others because they believe something different.

And because we live in a covid world, because there has been so much change, because in order for me to enjoy a night out, or for our business to have full capacity, others have to suffer I am conflicted. I am worried. And I am hesitant to celebrate this step. I had hoped we could all move on together. Weren’t we all in this together at an earlier stage? I see the vaccinated population who believe that those who aren’t are selfish, when asking the unvaccinated to speed through this situation at the same rate as the majority is not a fair ask. And because of this I am overwhelmed and I need a break. I really, really need a break.

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