By Alex Bartlett
This is the question is it not? Even though tens of thousands of experts, thousands of skeptics and all of the rest of us have been consumed over the last year debating, questioning, arguing and worst of all, just listening to endless stream of covid coverage it really comes down to this.
After sifting through all of the science-sourced “facts”, claims, death statistics, cases updates (so many, many cases) and the dire, ever grim projections from our modern-day high priests with their computer models it really just comes down to this question.
What will we lose?
For many reasons I am reluctant to write about this subject. I know nothing of epidemiology or virology or public health. I really have no business writing about loss due to covid 19, my profession is in high demand for the moment, my wife is gainfully employed and recently promoted and our living situation is quite good.
I will not dare pretend that I can speak about real hardship or suffering due to covid compared to what small business owners would be going through or what the working poor have had to endure but at the same time, only a complete fool would suggest that they have not lost anything in the past year.
With this in mind, at the same time, I cannot fully ever hope to comprehend all that I, no, all that we have lost and all of the ways this has happened. The sheer magnitude of these changes, almost all entirely some kind of loss for the vast majority of us is truly staggering. Perhaps for the 1st time in a very long time, perhaps ever, the other majority, the world’s poorest citizens will finally see the rest of us experience real empathy, a genuine understanding of some of the challenges and daily injustices they have been forced to accept as a normal way of living.
The worst aspect of my personal situation so far is that my elderly mother has been basically imprisoned in a care facility for over a year, unable to see any family save for myself and my brother who have been permitted to be designated “essential caregivers” so that she may have a few visitors.
So far with this measure, our Ontario Government has not been heartless enough just yet to completely isolate the elderly but all other friends and family are forbidden to visit. The last time she was allowed outside, almost 8 months ago, she was in the presence of a “minder” who kept us 6 feet apart, masked and who afforded us no privacy. I will lose my mom soon, she may die alone, forcibly confined with simple pleasures like walks in a park, the chaotic, non-judgemental love of grandchildren with their extra exuberance on holidays and birthdays all but eliminated.
My children are also no longer allowed in school even though kids are not and never were at risk and at the moment, over 75% of our schools in Ontario did not even have a single “case” when last in session. They are not only losing education but also social skills, study skills, valuable daily interactions and life lessons as well as exercise and fresh air and tragically, a large portion of that small, finite amount of time where they could just simply be kids.
I feel despair most days when I see my daughter, perched at the dining room table in front of a laptop ready to sign into virtual school, on her own and alone. Our wonderful, neighbourhood school sits shuttered while my daughter emulates the routine of an office worker at the age of 8. At the end of the day we can sometimes catch ourselves almost berating her like low level managerial assholes for not paying attention and fooling around during the day with the computer. For Christ sakes, what have we become as parents?
My 5 years old son cannot even last a 20 minute lesson online by himself. I initially felt frustrated that he could not persist in the same fashion the other young innocents can in these disembodied zoom classes but now I could be more accepting of this except that we both have to work during this “school time” and we need him to be occupied. Maybe this lack of digital “focus” speaks to how little screen time he had prior to this abomination of online “learning” or maybe it is simply because he is just 5 years old and he has no business being treated like this.
Am I surprised at how easily I just became a jaded, middle aged man who mostly complains to like minded friends and who wears himself and others out with the same impotent questions about “why and “how” could this happen? I did try emailing almost anyone in authority to question the safety and efficacy of the school mask mandate but this effort soon failed after so many “cut and paste”, formulaic responses from the bureaucratic minders along with their links on “community spread” and “how to safely wear a mask.”
It would have been nice to actually have been able to talk to school staff about my concerns in person but parents have not been permitted inside the school for over a year now. Will we ever be allowed back inside our schools or will there be new measures, new “threats” to keep us outside or have we simply just lost this ability to view and interact with this critically formative environment we immerse our children into?
I have not had a haircut since November 2020. “Unsafe” they say while putting all hairdressers on welfare for the better part of a year and also while making “working from home” just that much more undignified. Dogs have actually been permitted more frequent access to professional grooming than adults have here in Ontario in the last year.
Perhaps this is why booze, marijuana and fast food have always been available during this pandemic. I guess they know that as long as we remain in a well-fed stupor with Netflix porting us from reality, there will be no real angst or frustration on the streets.
For a brief moment last week, when announcing our latest stay at home order due to our hypersensitive, 47 cycle PCR test cases (approximately 1 case for every 4,500 residents here in Ontario mind you), our bumbling high school educated Premier tried to impose a quasi-martial law edict. The police would have been able to stop you and question your intent if you ventured outside of you home. I found it laughable that you could legally comply by saying you were “off to buy booze, weed or fast food” and these would all be valid, essential destinations for such an excursion. Meeting a friend for a walk in the park though, this is not safe, nor recommended or even permitted!
Luckily, they pulled back from this stance, the lawyers probably said it was unlawful, the police probably said that they did not want to enforce this heavy handed stance and perhaps the weary, bleary eyed, stumbling public would have probably, finally, maybe have said “enough”.
At this point, I think only the naïve believe that our old lives are coming back. Perhaps that is why they are so willing, so adamant to get the jab. It is not really to save the lives of others or prevent the scourge of an infectious disease but because it mainly seems like most people just want to travel again or to have the chance to no longer have to hear or worry about covid constantly.
Once again, I realize I have no business writing about loss. My friends are still all employed, I really do not know anyone who runs a small shop or a restaurant. I have no idea what it would be like to watch your business disintegrate, the debts pile up and the financial vultures start circling around you. I do understand why these small business owners and employees would be so motivated for everyone to get vaccinated so that they can finally open up and claw their way out of this deep covid hole they have been plunged into with the other end of their government issued loan lifelines handed to the big banks as a financial noose around their necks that will continually tighten in the months and years to come.
For the moment the rest of us are all still shielded by this work from home employment model that has not had any significant layoffs due to a massive, unchecked national Government wage subsidy program that even pays a 70% wage subsidy to large, significantly profitable corporations that are still paying dividends to shareholders. This white-collar job market stability is still further enhanced here in Canada by the re-bounding stock market that keeps rising to ever record heights thanks to the government debt printing machines.
So, how much will they really take from us in the months and years to come?
Let’s forget about PCR testing cycles, what constitutes a “case” vs. a clinical case, vaccine trials, if masks work or if lockdowns really achieve anything. These are all unnecessarily divisive discussions that, in the absence of any real or honest mainstream journalism, will never be permitted to be resolved in the public forum.
What we should really care about is that our children have been forbidden to interact with each other, to pursue hobbies, musical lessons, school clubs or just simple play-time with their peers. They are sent to school, when deemed “safe” based on the computer models, bound and gagged as invalids for up to 8 hours a day. Lunchtimes and playtimes are truncated, discouraged and replaced with silent lunches in front of a screen and ”socially distanced” outdoor play during shortened recess periods.
What will school look like in the years to come? What kind of digital ID’s will our children be forced to carry with them at all times and which big Tech conglomerate will collect, curate, market and disseminate all of their medical, scholarly and personal data?
What will replace all of the small restaurants, pubs and shops that have gone under? Will all of these beautiful brick and mortar establishments be bought up on the cheap by a large private equity firm that will offer the least equitable employment terms to desperate applicants?
At the moment I am not supposed to leave my neighbourhood limits. When will I be able to travel internationally and what risks must I accept with new vaccines and boosters to qualify to come and go and what private information must I sacrifice upon request to comply?
I feel that most of the online world I encounter is awash in mis-information, how soon will it be before the small and beleaguered sources of genuine information that I can find online are completely demonetized, de-linked, banned or de-platformed from the internet? The access to content and commenting that we have lost in the last year alone would have been incomprehensible to almost all of us just a few years ago, now the most “liberal democrats” are braying for big tech and the regulators to do more, to take more stringent actions. Soon we may experience a very harsh and unforgiving internet, one that reports us for straying outside of the ever-narrowing community guidelines.
What about my freedom, my right to refuse a hastily developed medical technology, one that has not been thoroughly tested but is still supposed to, guaranteed to (almost) provoke the appropriate immune response to a virus that poses almost no harm to me whatsoever?
What about unintended consequences? What happens to me if I suddenly develop any number of rare or debilitating health conditions in the future? My chances of catching covid-19 or experiencing ill effects from it are quite low so why can’t I be allowed to take this risk without being judged for doing so?
What happened to our acquired knowledge as a society as to how to behave when sick? This has served us well for thousands of years. When our amazing immune systems were fighting a significant illness, it was almost always obvious that the sick individual should be cared for but isolated and kept from others.
Why have we lost this trust in ourselves and in our own judgement? We are still permitted to raise our children (for now) but we are unable to properly assess our own health and infectivity as it may pertain to others at work or at school? Exercising our own good judgement is a critical aspect of a well functioning, civil society. Removing this right, this freedom of choice will only lead to a punitive, dystopian type of society, one that eagerly turns on each other rather than to help one another.
The optimists, those that believe in the system, the same system that has half the planet living in poverty mind you but don’t worry about that, just a minor flaw, they believe this fabulous system of democracy and commerce will deliver us the health outcome we all deserve. It will protect us and our weakest and all we need to do is take a shot, or two or three, every year and don’t mind the costs or how or to whom the money was distributed, it was necessary, it will be worth it.
Once this happens, once we reach the now newly re-defined as solely vaccine derived “herd immunity” then life is back! School, travel, friends and family. You can have it all but you may need a mask for just a bit longer, maybe two masks actually.
The rest of us, a small vocal minority or perhaps, hopefully a larger, mostly silent and dumbfounded mass of citizens will finally start taking stock of what we have lost and what we are truly at risk of losing.
It is hard to do. I still want the others to be right. I want the vaccine to be safe and effective. I want the sacrifice to be worth it. I want to travel and do all the things I imagined I would do with friends and family and at work. I want my kids to have these same options that I had. I want to believe that my government and our health officials are working with our best interests in mind while unaffected by conflicts of interest.
But the data says otherwise. This data that has always been there. That data that shows us that Covid is neither dangerous or all that contagious to anyone under the age of 70. The historical data that tells us that Influenza A and B and all the other sub-types could not possibly just disappear worldwide in the last twelve months. The data, all the data, these recent 12 months of newly acquired covid raw numbers from all over the world that does not lie…
So, the media does.
So do almost all Governments as well.
They have the full cooperation of all of the big tech companies for maximum efficacy. Information has never been more widely available but then immediately censored or “fact” checked. Prominent voices of reason, objectivity and truth are shadow banned or de-platformed. Even the miniscule, insignificant frustrated comments I make against my better judgement on our national news website are quickly and automatically deactivated within minutes of posting. I should know better than to waste the pixels, however temporary they might be.
What can be done? Not much on our own but then quite a lot if we all do something. Close to a half a million marched in London on April 24th. It was wonderful to see. How many more will march in May? I hope at least twice as many will next time and that they will persist, and persist and persist. I hope that as the weather warms, more and more people will see that it is possible to be outside and inside, to be together and to celebrate our lives, our professions and our passions together without shame or fear.
What else do we have to lose?