Healthcare workers watch as roughly 1,000 people gathered and protested COVID-19 health measures outside of the Kelowna hospital on Sept. 1. Photo: Aaron Hemens

Healthcare workers watch as roughly 1,000 people gathered and protested COVID-19 health measures outside of the Kelowna hospital on Sept. 1. Photo: Aaron Hemens

COVID isn’t going away any time soon, so we need to find peace

“There are reports of doctors and nurses being spat on and receiving derogatory insults.”

No matter which “side” you are on, COVID fatigue is real- and with the introduction of vaccines and vaccine passports the polarization is at a fever pitch.

Those on either side appear to be doubling down on their stances- relying on outrages claims to prove their point- and social media is a fan provoking the flames.

There are “pro” vaccine posts stating that those who aren’t vaccinated don’t deserve to seek medical care if they do fall ill with COVID.

I wonder- do these same people also think that a person who doesn’t wear a seatbelt and gets into a car accident doesn’t deserve help?

Even if one chooses out of principle not to vaccinate and becomes so sick with COVID that they cannot breathe- do you truly believe that they deserve to suffer and die?

I’ve seen “anti” vaccine posts comparing the vaccine passport to the Star of David worn during the Holocaust (a device used to identify Jews- and many other minorities- in order to systematically humiliate, and ultimately identify them in order to send to camps where they were starved, tortured and murdered.)

Do people that post such comparisons think that the inability to operate/attend a business without having a vaccine is the same?

Do they really believe they will end up massacred by the government? Not to trivialize those who have lost their livelihoods because they would not or could not be vaccinated.

That is heartbreaking and horrible. It is, however not equate to massacre and attempted genocide.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion; however there was a time when we didn’t incessantly discuss it.

Not to avoid constructive debate, but because thoughtful, informed, reflection cannot occur with the fleeting interactions one has online. We are addicted to screens and thus expose ourselves to angry rhetoric hourly.

Disputes on social media strip away empathy because without face-to-face interaction we can’t see the hurt in someone’s eyes from our comments; we are emboldened by a sense of anonymity.

There is no space for context. Communication is so much more than just words.

No matter which side you are on, fear is driving our feelings around COVID.

Those with compromised health who can’t mount a sufficient response to the vaccine are fearful of becoming sick- and may not recover the way a healthy unvaccinated person would. ICU’s are filling up and can’t accommodate non-COVID patients.

The vaccines are helping to decrease illness, but are made by an institution guilty of prioritizing profits over people. Vaccine passports have made many feel coerced and ostracized.

These fears are exacerbated by excessive access to online platforms where we express our panic and confirm our pain — where we aid in the perpetuation of an “us versus them” narrative.

COVID most likely isn’t going away any time soon, so the need to find peace between these sides is vital.

Debating your feelings online isn’t going to help. Freedom of speech is important, but perhaps the answer lies in not always responding to posts that don’t align with your beliefs. It’s an old adage that we cannot control what others do or say, but we can control our response.

Like it or move on. Unfollow if necessary.

However, taking the debate offline requires careful consideration as well.

Some of the protests against the vaccine passport took place in front of the very hospitals where patients are dying of COVID; where health care providers are sacrificing their health to save them.

There are reports of doctors and nurses being spat on and receiving derogatory insults.

Regardless of one’s belief around the severity of COVID, these protests also inhibited non-COVID patients to access health care in a timely manner. Furthermore, hospital staff are simply implementing government orders- appealing to elected officials would be more effective.

The right to protest is an important one- but must be done in a respectful and safe manner.

Remember that each human is complex and has their story too.

Know that every one of us — no matter what side we take — are not responding to COVID from a place of security and complete confidence, but from fear and uncertainty.

Above all else, find common ground in the fact that that we all want the same thing: For this pandemic to end.

Submitted by J.P., Trail B.C.

Note: As there have been reports of violence and harrassment surrounding this issue, the Trail Times agreed to only use the writer’s initials.

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