Melissa Smalley joins the 100 Mile Free Press (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).

United front needed to stop virus

Melissa Smalley column

If there’s one thing we can all agree on – and these days, it might be just one – we all want COVID-19 to be over and done with.

It has been a long and arduous 18 months of uncertainty, worry and division.

Unfortunately, as variants emerge, case numbers climb, and the provincial government scrambles to get a looming fourth wave under control, the division in our community and beyond is worse than ever.

Full disclosure: I am fully vaccinated and more than happy to wear a mask, distance and follow any other protocols that officials deem necessary to slow down the spread of this virus.

But I’m not here to tell you to get vaccinated or wear a mask.

If people have decided not to follow recommendations, there’s very little chance they’re going to listen to me.

And even though it can be frustrating to find common ground with others who disagree when there is so much at stake, it can be helpful to take a step back (or a day off social media) to gain some perspective.

We all think our opinions and beliefs are valid. But the truth is, this pandemic we are living through is unprecedented. I believe the vaccinations to be safe, which is why I was eager to sign myself up for the jabs, but I don’t know with 100 per cent certainty that there might not be some kind of unforeseen side effect down the road.

READ MORE: Return to normal post-COVID not a race

There are many for whom that tiny sliver of uncertainty represents too much of a risk; many others who believe this entire ordeal is an orchestration by the government to steal our individual freedoms.

While I may roll my eyes at that notion, I’m trying to remind myself lately that people who hold these beliefs truly think they are valid. Furthermore, I don’t know what may have happened in their lifetime to make them so fearful of a vaccine, or distrustful of government.

What I do know is that name-calling, shaming and incessant arguing on social media is not going to make one iota of a difference to their beliefs. All it will do is fan the flames of division, and likely put me and everyone participating in this futile back-and-forth in a bad mood.

This pandemic should not be framed as pro-vaccination versus anti-vaxxers, or pro-mask versus anti-mask.

It’s humanity versus the virus.

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And until we can find a way to put our anger, frustration and opinions aside, the virus will continue to have the upper hand and there will be no end in sight.

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