Responsible Freedom

September 21, 2021
Council Column

None of us have unfettered freedom. That’s not how civil society works. None of us have the right to do whatever we want without consequences, otherwise we would be living in an uncertain and unsafe anarchy.

For society to work, we need to have laws and regulations that we all voluntarily live by. We also need to be certain that consequences will be imposed on those who do not adhere to these laws and regulations, otherwise our society would devolve back to some form of mob rule, where might is right and the vulnerable are left unprotected by the enforcement of just and fair laws.

That’s why these so-called ‘freedom rallies’ make no sense, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. The “freedom” that this minority is calling for is the freedom of anarchy: the freedom to make up their own rules independent of science, common sense, and good government.

Yes, good government. The inherent mistrust of “big government” in the sloganeering of these “freedom” groups is dangerous and misleading. I worked behind the iron curtain in Soviet controlled countries during the late 1970s and saw first-hand what an unelected, dictatorial government can do to those who protest against it. The irony today is that the anti-vax and anti-passport protesters have nothing to fear from the government they are trying to get us all to be afraid of, because their freedom to protest is protected by law.

However, the dissent and disinformation being spread by these “freedom” protesters is doing a great disservice to our society at this critical juncture. They are creating unnecessary confusion and disharmony at a time when we all need to be more trusting of our democratically elected government and its public health officers.

With the COVID cases in the North and in Quesnel spiking beyond anything we’ve seen to date, it’s past time we all got back to the reality of overcoming this very real pandemic: trusting in government and its intentions; making decisions based on actual data and science, not uninformed opinions and conspiracy theories; and placing the safety and health of others, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the ravages of this virus, first and foremost in our decision-making.

If we want to see an end to this pandemic, we all need to do our part.

First, we need to stringently adhere to basic sanitation and physical distancing protocols: wear our masks, wash our hands, reduce our contact circle, and maintain physical distance in public spaces.

Second, everyone, with very few exceptions, needs to get vaccinated. That the significant spike in severe cases of COVID currently threatening our health care system and most vulnerable citizens is made up of primarily unvaccinated people should be sufficient evidence that the vaccinations are providing protection against this virus. We just need more people vaccinated.

Third, we all need to do our best to stay informed from reliable sources and support one another through this time; including supporting our local businesses and their employees. These frontline workers should not be the target for anyone’s anger and abuse.

If we want to see an end to this pandemic, we all need to exercise a little more trust in our government and our public health officials. None of them have mal-intent, they are simply trying to make sense out of the emerging and evolving science and data and provide us with the rules and the tools needed to get through this together. We need to use our freedom responsibly and adhere to their recommended protocols.

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