WONG-TAM: Let’s choose discourse over divisiveness

Society must understand the unvaccinated made their own choice for themselves — in view of a different set of circumstances.

Article content

Since March 2020, we have lived in fear with evolving narratives and medical opinions regarding COVID-19.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

So, what do we know for certain at this point? Fear is the enemy of rational thinking and compassion for others.

Social media has emboldened extremists and they have become more intimidating than ever. However, the essence of our humanity is our interconnectedness — our relationships with other people — yet it appears that somewhere along the way, we have forgotten this.

Those who have chosen ‘vaccination’ have been labeled “sheep” and “zombies;” unmasked patrons in stores have intimidated younger workers by not maintaining physical distance.

Protesters have blocked hospitals, businesses, and schools, not helping their cause when some of them hurl insults. And scapegoating “fascist lock-downers” over a “Chinese virus” is simply toxic.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Then there’s the flip side: the “vaccinated” don’t want to be near the “unvaccinated,” want them excluded from society, fired from their workplace, or wish to deny them access to care because of apparent “careless behaviour.”

This is also worrying. Do we deny certain groups medical care or admittance to the hospital? No, we do not. That would be despicable and frankly, unCanadian.

Instead, we offer compassion.

We must ensure that all Canadians are equal in society, and fight against all discrimination — regardless of what personal characteristics it is based on.

This is a basic principle that Canadians rightly pride themselves on.

As a COVID-vaccinated individual in society, I rely on the fact that I made a personal choice to protect myself (whether it is in regard to a virus or anything else). We must understand that those who are unvaccinated made their own choice for themselves  in view of a different set of circumstances .

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

There are laws that address an individual’s right to “consent to treatment.”

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) says that physicians must obtain valid consent before a treatment is provided that is informed and given voluntarily and not under duress considering the specific circumstances of the patient, on a case-by-case basis.

Furthermore, according to the CPSO: “physicians must respect this decision even if they do not agree with it.”

Some people, including my parents for their own personal and legitimate reasons, originally refused their turn to be vaccinated. Their sentiment is shared by others, especially those in the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour communities, when it comes to not trusting big pharma, policing or government.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

My father ceaselessly follows the news and monitors the daily COVID numbers. My parents are not protesters nor extremists and strictly adhere to all other public health protocols. I have learned that labelling people “anti-vaxxers” or even “vaccine hesitant” is not a beneficial narrative, as it assumes they are stupid and dialogue is quickly shut down.

Labels are depersonalizing, as they don’t take into account people’s unique physical sensitivities, circumstances, or individual self-knowledge. As we know, there are many different roads that lead to the same place, and it is only with patience and listening carefully that we may understand. We must seek discourse over divisiveness.

Being Canadian does not mean we are all exactly the same. Our friends and family who have made different decisions from us are not second-class social pariahs, but people who have been thoughtful in arriving at their own individual health decisions and we must respect that.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Nobody I know wants to get sick or die from COVID-19. But does that mean that a one-size fits all approach fits everybody? One doesn’t have to be a health expert to understand that this simply isn’t the case.

We know from recent Public Health statements that those who are vaccinated can still get COVID-19 and can still transmit it to others just as easily as those who are unvaccinated. In addition, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Moore has stated that natural immunity needs to be considered as a factor in Ontario’s reopening plan.

So why are we at such odds with people who have drawn different conclusions than we have? Some of us are even apart from those we love.

This is not a civil war, it is an upper respiratory virus in the coronavirus family — which is not going to disappear anytime soon.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Let’s keep this in mind as further restrictions are lifted as society and the economy fully reopens.

We are soon entering Christmas and the Holiday Season — a time not only for celebration but of love and forgiveness — and it is high time to reconnect with those we love.

Kristyn Wong-Tam is Toronto City Councillor for Ward 13 and Vice Chair of the Toronto Board of Health

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world

    Who are you, Monsieur Zemmour?

    MOSCOW, 03 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute. The Ruptly video agency, part of the RT television company, reported that a protest rally was held in Paris