Valentine’s Day 2022 has passed. Cards have been packed away for another year. Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are now half-price on the discount shelf. The romantic dinners, flowers, and good wishes of one day have been replaced by the day-to-day activities of life.
While many in Canada expressed their love to each other in these traditional ways, a large convoy of trucks, cars and people jammed the streets around parliament in Ottawa expressing, in confusing messages, their love for our country.
That expression of flag-waving and vocal messaging accompanied noise and interference to many Ottawa residents. In addition, major transportation routes were blocked disrupting more people’s lives, economic trade, and the possible reputation of our country as a reliable trading partner. All this was done in the name of Freedom. Freedom to live unencumbered by government regulations and to love our country as it was some time ago.
A recent article focused my attention on events of the last century.
Canadians for the past three generations have enjoyed progressive annual prosperity. One need only look at a graph of the TSX, or the Dow Jones to see a continuous, albeit with some dips, rise over the past seventy years. Or we can look at our every increasing affluence. For seventy years, 1950 to 2020, Canadians have not experienced a national or world calamity.
But, let’s look at the first fifty years of the twentieth century.
Those who lived during that time, 1900 to 1950, experienced two world wars and a crippling depression. Young men were sent to WWI (1914-1919) and WWII (1939-1945) on another continent. People of every age experienced the hardship of lost jobs, homes, and health during “the dirty thirties” and the Depression.
I am old enough to have memories of the final months of WWII. Rationing of food—sugar, coffee, flour and gasoline – to mention just a few, occurred under the mandate of the government. Young men went to war, to defend the country they loved, many willingly others conscripted by government demand.
In times of crisis governments act, albeit not without pain to citizens, for the betterment of the country.
The next seventy years saw limited national hardships. In the late 1970 and early 1980’s high inflation caused businesses and homeowners to face bankruptcy. Interest rates reached 20% and more. The Conservative opposition government under Robert Stanfield suggested national Wage and Price Controls. The Liberal government under Pierre Trudeau imposed Wage and Price controls
Here is yet another example of governments acting, some will suggest intruding, for the benefit of most citizens.
January 2020 a worldwide pandemic, Covid 19, suddenly brought hardship and inconvenience. People lost jobs, health, freedom to associate with extended family and friends.
Governments at three different levels acted. Millions of dollars were spent to procure vaccines; provincial governments established vaccination and testing sites so their populace could be protected; federal and provincial governments paid out money to companies and individuals to alleviate economic hardship.
We started well, pulling together.
A majority agreed to wearing masks, stepped up for vaccinations, and limited contacts with others. Christmas celebrations 2020 were put on hold; travel to southern warmer climates postponed. Students studied remotely at home. Churches were closed.
But, who expected this to continue for two years? Who expected Omicron? Suddenly, restrictions became too much. Inconvenience, loss of employment and loss of social relationships too depressing. Three generations of Canadian society having known only the good times seemingly had no tolerance for the difficult. So, ironically, we blame and bite the hand that feeds us—our government.
When our bodies begin to fight against our own immune system, we call it an autoimmune disease. When an alleged protest disrupts international trade, besieges a city, and closes businesses to demand government do it their way, we have a national autoimmune disease.
These expressions of love for country as voiced by convoy participants appear self-serving, “me” orientated, rather than the usual Canadian expression of collective betterment. Peter Marshall, the outstanding American Presbyterian minister defined freedom like this:
“May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please,
But as the opportunity to do what is right.”
I love my country.
But, I felt shame and despair as I witnessed the behaviour and the mixed messaging of the convoy protest. The convoy protest became a siege to bring government to its knees or to change government policy by force rather than democratic process.
It saddens me so much anger has built up in our country. It saddens me people suffered noise pollution, air pollution, economic and verbal abuse because of that anger. It saddens me there are those now in jail, others have lost their trucks and possibly livelihood because they were misled to think this is the way to control government. It saddens me that in the name of “love my country” damage has been done to my country.
My viewpoint may not be yours. We have heard strident voices on both sides in this month of love. I am looking for some middle ground. Your comments and reactions to my blog could provide some dialogue.