Counterpoint: Ottawans are overdue their shot to return to normal life

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It’s been a difficult few weeks for this Ottawan who has happily called Cornwall home for almost eight years.

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Watching the daily coverage from the city where I was born, raised, and educated has been soul-sucking. A group of people — almost all of whom appear to be decent, hard-working folk — have managed to let themselves be co-opted by some of the worst fringe elements in our society, under the false pretense of “FREEDOM!!” [insert blaring truck horn here] This is a challenge to observe from afar.

The more I see, the more I read, the more I let it all wash over me, the more convinced I am it’s time for these entitled whiners to pack it up and let Ottawans get back to their daily routines. Yes, entitled, along with selfish, are the best descriptors I can think of for those who’ve led this siege, along with those who’ve gone along for the ride, been lending their support, and been defending those still in Ottawa.

They’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, to the point that when confronted with irrefutable evidence of the actions of a select few such as racist symbols, defacement of statues, desecration of the National War Memorial, harassment of residents, vandalism of public and private property, etc., they skip over the part where they denounce what any reasonable person would see as unacceptable behaviors and get right to attacking the messenger and the credibility of the evidence.

As though what happens in Ottawa is exclusively limited to what they personally witness, or witnessed by those whose opinions they share. As though the problem is the rest of us for not seeing the love in those who clean up after the idiotic few, or hold street hockey games in front of Parliament. As though it isn’t possible to condemn those deserving of condemnation while recognizing it’s not a blanket statement.

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Claims this is democracy finally at work; of some silent majority that’s finally been set free? Hardy.

Those opposed to the pandemic, its restrictions, vaccinations, etc., have never lacked for oxygen, space, ink, pixels, and other opportunities to express themselves. Some of those opportunities were provided by this very publication as we covered actions and events in our communities.

Their sense of entitlement fuels their insatiable need to be the ones yelling louder than anyone else, until either they are the only voices you hear, or the need for sanity drives restrictions that suppress all voices in order to lower the volume of theirs.

This is not the majority. These are not the actions of the majority, because the real majority are those of us who’ve quietly endured.

As those who went to Ottawa were having a party they don’t want to end yet at the cost of disruption and the continued harassment of Ottawa residents (including the most-vulnerable among them), do you know what the real majority was doing? In numbers big enough to provide the “freedom” convoy is the minority?

Getting vaccinated, and as of the end of that same weekend, starting to once again support the businesses most-impacted by this pandemic. Going about their daily lives, with every bit of freedom one has the right to claim when one’s actions can infect and harm others. My media colleague John Michael McGrath at TVO put it best when he wrote on Feb. 1 that while, at most, fewer than 20,000 people were expressing themselves and freely moving into Ottawa last weekend, almost 160,000 queued to get a COVID-19 vaccine dose .

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In our region? Since Jan. 28, 10,419 people have received a vaccine dose in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region—a number that’s multiples higher than any estimate of those who participated in or supported the convoy on Jan. 29, or the other convoy on Feb. 5 .

Pandemic fatigue is real, and the impacts on our youth, their education, and our collective mental health are happening before our eyes and will continue to unfold for at least a generation. Those supporting these occupiers? Many don’t see their support as enabling the continuation of these impacts.

They want to be seen as heroes and saviours. They will want to take credit when already planned and announced changes to current restrictions are loosened and hopefully lifted later this year.

Don’t let them.

Life will settle into its new normal because of those who’ve quietly endured, not the actions of an entitled minority of whiners.

hrodrigues@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HugoAPRodrigues

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