The world still revolves around the sun, weather happens outside and reactionary politicians make up new rules to catch up to the ever-evolving new reality. It’s the same old world but boy, did the rules ever change. From travel to office work, sports and performing arts; from school and university to family gatherings. It’s all different now. Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt or sick. Is that really a workable policy?
‘Will the vaccine be the magic potion, the panacea that people are hoping for,’ I asked Camp, who came over with a six pack of Coast Lager from Persephone, our local farm brewery.
‘The short answer is: No. It never is. A vaccine might bring about some relief and even a sense of normalcy if enough people take it and if it is as effective and harmless as they promise – and we all wish for – and thirdly, if the virus doesn’t trick us with new resistant mutations in a classic Darwinian scenario,’ Camp said. He seemed weary and tired and when I asked him what was bothering him, he at first shook his head but then relented. ‘It’s not the world I was dreaming of when I was young and I’m afraid we’re now further from it than at any other time, moving in the wrong direction. Yes, we’ve made huge strides in emancipation, communication, education and technology but as a people and species we’ve fragmented in the last year over politics and the virus and moved further apart from each other. At first, like last spring, we were united with support concerts and pot-banging in solidarity with the front-line workers. We’ve long tired of this and nobody is banging pots or ringing bells or organizing concerts anymore. We’ve all retreated into our caves – if we have one – and become anti-social and suspicious to a point of slight paranoia. Conspiracy theories and falsehoods have become mainstream and flourish thanks to social media, which exploits and promotes hype over facts and propaganda over science. I know I sound like a broken record but this virus and pandemic is plunging millions back into the swamp of systemic poverty. All of this doesn’t bode well for the other worldwide crisis: the environment and the air we breathe.’
I had to mostly agree with Camp’s depressing diatribe but I’d rather look for solutions than wallow in a stew of misery. ‘How about if people who refuse the vaccine sign a release form preventing them from receiving any future free treatment of illness associated with the virus?’ I said. ‘Like if they get Covid-19 they’re on their own and have to pay for any medical intervention and/or get fined if they’re found to have passed it on recklessly and do not follow pertinent protocols.’
Camp chuckled. ‘Grand idea old boy, but that will never happen. That would create an acrimonious two-tiered system that would be hard to enforce and rip families apart. Like the parents take the shot and the kids refuse? A feast for lawyers is what that would create. Still, it would make those who oppose the vaccine, on whatever grounds, own up to it.’
We popped another can and looked out at the grey and green landscape: the trees, rocks and the water, no different than thousands of years ago. A sense of permanence, an anchor in time, so different from the ever changing, mercurial human experiment.
‘What do you say to people who opted to travel abroad during this winter?’ I asked Camp who I could count on for an honest opinion.
‘There is no problem with people travelling abroad,’ Camp said, tapping on his phone. ‘According to Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, defending the new travel restrictions, only 1.3 per cent of all known Covid-19 cases in Ontario originated from travel abroad and less than 0.31 per cent of all recent Covid-19 cases. 1 in 300 that is. In other words, international travel is not the culprit it’s made out to be but it’s an easy target.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ I said. Going to an island with no cases doesn’t put anybody at risk and coming back, there are now test and quarantine requirements which make travel very unattractive but definitely not unsafe.’
‘Did you follow the latest shenanigans in the US political theatre?’ Camp asked.
‘Yes, looks like the rotten bottom of the basket disintegrated, spilling the worst of the deplorables onto the streets of the capital? Or do you mean the shameless refusal to accept the certified electoral votes by over 100 members of congress? Those so-called lawmakers should all be tried for sedition or treason,’ I ranted ‘Along with their insane leader who has gone down the rabbit hole, taking thousands if not millions of blind followers with him. Murderers of democracy.’
‘Amen,’ said Camp, holding up his hand to stop me. ‘Tasty beer by the way.’