A gentle reminder

“The fire is taking off.”

That was all that needed to be said to get three old farm boys on the run.

It all started with a very controlled burn in the gravel pit far away from buildings. The remnants of some old barn stabling and other wood were turning into hot coals and a little gust of wind dropped an ember into an old rail pile. Then another piece flew into some standing grass parched in part by a few days of warm weather.

Within minutes the dozen little fires were put out, but the point was made: you can’t turn your back on a fire for a second. Luck was had that day.

We have thought of that little story many times since then. There have been days at work that it feels like gremlins are starting fires all over the place. Just when one fire is brought under control, something happens to ignite another source of trouble.

COVID-19 has made for months of anguish without reprieve and just as there seems to be an opening to normalcy, something pops up to destroy a moment of calm. One grass fire after the next.

Word today that Quebec is considering taxing the unvaccinated followed news the previous day that a man in Port Elgin allegedly threatened a couple with a bat for not wearing their masks.

The previous Friday, Canada’s Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos held a press conference and floated what we suspect was a trial balloon that vaccines should be made mandatory by the provinces. The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan immediately dismissed the idea of forcing vaccinations.

This same minister when queried about the participants on the infamous Sunwing party plane from Quebec, responded “They were all stopped and interrogated at the air border.” We have struggled for a few days with the connotations of being “interrogated,” particularly the use of charged language in these unprecedented times, but it did channel the Prime Minister’s very clear wording that Canadians are “angry” with the unvaccinated. Words at this level need to be carefully chosen.

The roughly 15 per cent of the population that haven’t participated in the program have their reasons. Scolding and fanning the flames hasn’t moved that needle much. If anything, it has bolstered people’s position and increased animosity between the two camps, straining relationships within families and amongst friends.

While it is my personal belief that the vaccine is necessary, including the booster, these are choices that I made.

I also choose to wear a mask and various other measures as suggested by the medical officer of health to stay safe for the sake of those around me.

That compliance with the rules did earn a wholly undeserved mocking at a local store from another patron for “wearing a diaper on my face like a baby.” But hey, it’s a free world still, despite the naysayers and those who are incapable of respecting other people’s choices.

While frustrations abound, try to be kind. Consider that a gentle reminder to not allow differences of opinion to get in the way of being good neighbours and friends.