From purgatory to limbo, and back again - Denny Scott editorial
For the 20 months those of us taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously may have felt like we’re constantly moving back and forth between purgatory and limbo…. Or maybe that’s just me.
I’ve always been interested in the beliefs held by Christianity as a whole and its different sects, and, as a result, have studied everything from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy to different translations of the Holy Bible (stick with me here, this isn’t all about the beliefs around Christianity, I promise). For those who don’t share my proclivity for religious research, the difference between limbo and purgatory (in one viewing of the words) is that purgatory is where souls are prepared for the grace of heaven. It is a place of “cleansing” to make souls that are worthy ready for the awesomeness that is heaven. (Purgatory is also seen as a place of punishment, in some understandings, though I’d like to believe that humans don’t deserve that much categorized punishment). Limbo, on the other hand, is a place of waiting.
For some beliefs, it’s a place of waiting for the unborn or those who died before they were absolved of the original sin, while
others see it as a place for those who died believing in God, but were not quite good enough to get into heaven. Those unfortunate souls had to wait until Jesus died, atoning for their sins and carrying them to heaven with Him. Fun fact: while the Catholic Church has a defined doctrine on original sin, it doesn’t actually mention what happens to unbaptized babies, so who knows?
So anyway, it feels like we’ve gone from limbo to purgatory and back again a number of times over the past year. The lockdowns are limbo, where we wait, hoping not to have to be “judged” by a COVID-19 test, while purgatory represents the downward COVID-19 numbers, preparing us for re-entry into the world we know (which, while it isn’t paradise, could be favourably compared to the garden thanks to all the time we spent barricaded indoors).
And yes, We’re all tired of it. I’m also not a big fan of the government telling me that I need to have a needle jabbed in my
arm before I’m allowed to dine out, see a movie or, be still my beating heart, attend in-person council meetings. Okay, that
latter one could go the way of the dinosaurs (which, given their reticence to use computers to meet more effectively, were undoubtedly ridden to school by some of our local councillors - zing!). However, I agree with a lot of people: these restrictions are a pain in the butt.
I mean, look at the vaccination passport. Honestly, who wants to carry a piece of paper to identify themselves? Besides their actual passport… their licence… and their health card… and their bank card… and, if applicable, their student ID or their health insurance card and… okay, maybe carrying around a piece of paper to guarantee I’ve done everything possible to not be patient zero in a new outbreak isn’t that big of a pain.
But the government telling me I have to get certain medicines? That’s totally out of line! I mean it’s ridiculous… unless it’s the fluoride in our water… or the other vaccines children need before going to school, like diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis, whooping cough, chickenpox… okay, maybe requiring people to be vaccinated against diseases isn’t that big of a deal.
Oh, but the paperwork! I mean how ridiculous is it to have to give our names and addresses to people before we’re allowed to go see a play? Oh wait, we already did that when we bought tickets. I guess the same was true for concerts as well, since they don’t really do many sales at the door. But council meetings! That’s the right of every person to attend without being forced to sign their… oh no, wait, we already had to do that before COVID-19. We had to use a sign-in sheet so staff could keep track of who attended.
So maybe, just maybe, all these restrictions aren’t as bad as we’ve made them out to be. Sure, it may take longer to get into a hockey game, or require a bit more vigilance when it comes to deciding whether or not we’ve got a harmless cold or COVID-19, but we’re not being asked to do anything except care for our communities. There is no nefarious scheme here, so suck it up and do the right thing.
You may be sitting there wondering why that preamble of limbo and purgatory was important; it’s important because we’re still there. We’re still waiting to find out if we get into the garden or sent back to the waiting room and the only people who can answer it are the 12.533 per cent of eligible Ontarians who haven’t been vaccinated. Those people, and the impact they may have on the healthcare system, are the difference between us exiting purgatory and heading back to limbo, and it’s about time they started pulling in the same direction as the rest of the province.