Not exactly the Grinch this year - Denny Scott editorial
While we here at The Citizen know there are some misguided souls who think the COVID-19 pandemic is exaggerated or (in some really special cases) made up, the simple fact is there is evidence everywhere you look and it’s about time we start recognizing the hard work that’s going on at the top levels to combat it.
Whether it’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his efforts to not only help the people of Canada but the individual provinces, as well as his admonishment of people not following the rules, or Ontario Premier Doug Ford who, at the start of the pandemic, was doing a great job of trying to get the province through this unprecedented time, our leaders have proven themselves capable.
And how have we responded to the incredible efforts put forward by not only our leaders, but our front-line workers, first responders and essential workers? Well, we’ve not kept the faith, that’s for sure. As a matter of fact, we’ve gotten to the point that provincial leaders are restricting Christmas and they’re not happy about it.
While other leaders have talked about the future of Christmas, now 14 days out, it fell to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to call a spade a spade and not only say that Christmas wasn’t happening, but he was the one to make that unpopular remark.
“I’m the guy who’s stealing Christmas to keep you safe because you need to do this now,” he announced last week.
Pallister was just full of great remarks, like “If you don’t think that COVID is real right now, you’re an idiot,” but let's focus on what he said about Christmas, not just because of how important it is but because of the specific language he used to say it.
Pallister, likely intentionally, equated himself with the Grinch, who, in Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday tale, stole the material aspects of Christmas from Whoville only to find out that the celebration continued without it. It made for a great headline and soundbite, but if you consider the outcome of the original story, the analogy may not have been great.
Or who knows, he may know that many people are incredibly self-centred and stupid, which means his analogy hits the nail on the head: He is stealing Christmas, in a way, by encouraging people to do the smart thing and celebrate at a distance, but some irresponsible, lazy or downright idiotic people may just go right on spreading the disease by visiting friends and family over the holidays.
While that was interesting, the most interesting part of the statement that I noticed was how Pallister was talking to the people of Manitoba like they were unruly children who couldn’t be trusted.
He didn’t say he was stealing Christmas because it was the wise decision or because he was being directed to by medical professionals, he said he was doing it to keep “you [the people of Manitoba] safe because you need to do this now.”
Four or five years ago, before I became a parent, I may not have recognized the tone (or worse, felt immediately compelled to argue with it because it sounded like it was coming from my parents) but now I see it and hear it as what it is: someone taking responsibility for a person or group of people who are unable or unwilling to be responsible for themselves. Now I hear myself in that tone of voice, telling my daughter Mary Jane she can’t use her rocking horse to climb up on the counter or explaining to her why chocolate isn’t a breakfast food. Now I hear myself trying to explain to a four-year-old (who, by the way, understands the COVID-19 pandemic and its dangers better than some mature, supposedly responsible adults I’ve heard talk about it) why something has to be the way it is because otherwise, she may hurt herself.
The recognition of that, of a politician having to treat an entire province like children jumping on the bed and inviting disaster, was pretty disappointing. Why? Well because I’m a huge science fiction fan.
Games, movies, books, whatever is sci-fi, I’m into, except for movies and books about zombies. Why? Because I always felt they were the most unrealistic science fiction trope. We’re talking about, essentially, a virus transferred by bite. I always figured that,
if zombies were real, people would be smart and avoid them and governments would find a way to quarantine them. I thought
that way until about six months ago when the first people started dissenting, en masse, from the rules that are supposed to keep us safe from COVID-19. Now I know that if there is ever a zombie apocalypse, there will be a wave of people claiming it’s fake news as they’re turned into the living dead while and another group of people arguing for their rights as the moaning, shambling undead overtake them.
When our politicians have to start berating us because we’re treating wearing a mask like staying away from the cookie jar, we’re doing something wrong as a society. When we’re relying on our governments to make us act in the best interests of each other, something’s gone amiss. Heck, when we’re relying on our governments to make us act in our best interests, everything’s gone amiss. Let’s do a bit better folks.