Look beyond yourself - Shawn Loughlin editorial
As this pandemic drags on with no end in sight, it’s hard not to be discouraged by a number of things many of us encounter on a daily basis: the woman going the wrong way down a one-way aisle at the grocery store, the man breathing down your neck in the LCBO check-out line or the large number of people who have already turned their nose up at a COVID-19 vaccine because of an “eye-opening YouTube video” based on debunked, junk science. The simplest one, however, might be the most infuriating because it’s so very simple: wearing a mask.
Reading the news – both local and beyond – has been so disheartening as the pandemic has worn on and people have grown tired of the measures in place to stop the spread of the virus. Every day it’s something: people refusing to wear masks in their local markets, thousands attending Donald Trump rallies with no masks or physical distancing and no-mask protests often tied into anti-vaxxing or baseless QAnon conspiracy theories.
And when I say local, I’m happy to report that I don’t mean hyper-local in terms of Huron County. Around here, people have been mostly respectful, kind and understanding, with few exceptions (we all know someone). However, no-mask protests have made their way to cities like Toronto and Montreal. In fact, it was a photo from the Montreal protest earlier this month that made my blood boil as a visibly pregnant woman marched with no mask, among thousands of others with no masks, smiling and giving a thumbs up.
After spending months doing everything in my power to keep my pregnant wife shielded from the virus as she worked from home but I didn’t, it broke my heart to see this woman putting her unborn child in harm’s way. The battle for us now continues with Tallulah just a few months old as I work to stay healthy and not bring the virus home to my infant daughter as her immune system continues to develop.
While it’s been disappointing to see growing resentment towards a measure we can take to keep our friends and neighbours safe, why I wanted to write this column actually stemmed from something positive. It kind of reminded me of the old, “no child is born a racist” thing.
As my family prepares to come up and visit the newest addition – some for the first time – my mother has been talking to my niece Addyson about how she has to behave. She already knows she can’t hug or tickle her new cousin, but she asked if she would have to wear her mask around Tallulah. My mom said she would and Addyson said good, because she wanted to wear it because she loves her cousin and she wanted to keep her safe.
Addyson is nearly four years old. As schools bring students back, the narrative has been that kids need strong leadership on distancing, masks and hand washing because they don’t know any better and are destined to spread the virus at a greater rate than adults. Meanwhile, I have yet to see a child and his friends storm into a Target without masks on in protest. If toddlers have been at anti-mask rallies, it’s because their idiot parents brought them along, putting them in danger as well. I’ve yet to see a video of a nine-year-old being forcibly removed from a store for not wearing a mask.
Perhaps we should look to the young people for some guidance. They may not know everything at that age, but they know to care, to be kind and that they have plenty to learn. They look up to us, so let’s give them people worth looking up to, rather than a generation of people who think they’re scientists because of a video they watched on Facebook.