by Nick Kossovan
Often, I think the most common fear isn’t public speaking or the fear of heights, flying, or finding a hair in your chocolate pudding. From observation, I’d say the most common fear is being accountable for your actions’ consequences. Blaming the government, corporations and circumstances created by lifestyle choices has become a national pastime. This contact blaming says much about our wanting to avoid the fact at any given moment, a person is the sum of their choices.
Lately, it seems it’s our political leaders who’re at fault for COVID, and now its variant, to keep rolling along. It’s easier to use the government as a scapegoat instead of taking responsibility for your own actions or looking at your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours’ behaviour and calling them out if necessary.
This “I’m not responsible for my community, my country, how I’m leaving the planet for future generations,” or such egocentric attitude is why Doug Ford’s Whac-A-Mole lockdowns continue.
At this point, there’s not one person over the age of six who doesn’t know what they need to do to stem the spreading of COVID, which for those who need a reminder are:
- When in public, which should be minimal (going to and from work, only purchasing essential items), properly wear a facemask.
- Practice social distancing.
- Wash your hands frequently.
It doesn’t get simpler than this!
Undeniably, if everyone did these three simple actions, we wouldn’t be near the current infection levels we’re now seeing. I wouldn’t go as far as stating COVID would be eradicated by now (that would be too ambitious), but it would’ve been mitigated. How can I be so certain?
While taking high school biology, I learned how viruses spread and therefore adjusted my actions accordingly. Since I’ve been practicing the above-mentioned COVID safety protocols, I haven’t had a cold or the flu. You may have had the same experience. I can’t recall a December, January, or February when I wasn’t literally knocked down by a bad cold. This year nothing!
Government policies deeming what businesses are essential and can be open, and which businesses must be closed, don’t spread viruses. People choosing to ignore COVID safety protocols, going to malls, gathering socially, and not wearing a facemask are how COVID is spreading.
Just because the government allows you to do something doesn’t mean you should. Still, for many, the prevailing logic is: If the government allows me to do it, then it must be okay.
A sense of entitlement has many not thinking in terms of what’s right, but in terms of “what’s allowed.”
Because using the government as a scapegoat absolves the individual from being responsible for their actions, this logic isn’t uncommon. Do these same people say the government allowing the sale of foods that are high in trans fat is the cause of obesity? The same goes with the selling of cigarettes. Choosing to smoke is the cause of lung cancer, not the freedom to buy cigarettes.
You don’t need the government to tell you to do what you know is right, but I could be wrong on this assumption. Maybe the government does need to be our nanny and impose draconian measures. Should martial law, restricting movements and imposing curfews, as was done in Quebec (9:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. across the province) back in January, have been done in late-March 2020?
Obviously, educating how to be COVID safe and expecting people to make choices in their best health interest and those around them hasn’t worked. The foundation for maturity is understanding your actions have consequences to you and those around you. However small they may be, our actions have far-reaching ripple effects, which we often don’t see. The rapid spread of COVID over a country as vast as Canada shows how interconnected we are and part of a community that extends well beyond our respective geography.
Instead of coming together to fight a common enemy, COVID, many are spinning this pandemic into narratives to further their political or social agenda. Counterproductive division exists between those who are either COVID deniers, who simply don’t care about the risks or who’ve turned wearing a mask and social distancing into a freedom issue versus those who are doing their best to mitigate the spreading of the virus, which thankfully is the majority.
Then there are those who evangelize the narrative that lockdowns and the COVID safety protocols I mentioned don’t work. As proof, they point out, the number of COVID cases is increasing, not decreasing.
Previous lockdowns haven’t worked because there hasn’t been 100% compliance. This 3rd lockdown won’t work without 100% compliance! Not following the government’s lockdown guidelines and then claiming lockdowns don’t work is the equivalent to saying a person not wearing a seatbelt who dies in a car accident proves seatbelts don’t work. Of course, lockdowns don’t work if you don’t follow basic COVID safety protocols.
I’d go as far as stating if Ontarians had followed the 1st lockdown restrictions, Ontario probably wouldn’t need a 3rd lockdown. Blaming the government while not taking personal accountability-how’s that working out so far?
Not everything is the government’s fault. The government isn’t preventing anyone from diligently practicing COVID safety protocols or forcing anyone to go out for non-essential items. At some point, we’ll need to acknowledge our individual behaviour, and those of family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues is what’s prolonging this pandemic. The sooner we acknowledge this fact and adjust our respective lifestyle accordingly, the sooner this pandemic will become part of our history.
Undeniably, government leaders could’ve been much more proactive when COVID first reached our shores. No nonsense lockdowns should have been implemented at the start. In today’s world, where supply chain management is an exact science, there’s no excuse for the stop-and-go vaccine rollout. However, our political leaders didn’t fail us; they’re navigating uncharted waters with a demanding public constantly snapping at them. The failure comes from everyone who refuses to do what they know is right for the common good, which ultimately the government has no control over.
Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes what’s on his mind from Toronto. Follow @NKossovan on Instagram and Twitter