My wife and I were in the pet store the other day. There was one young couple and their little girl just ahead of us and no one behind us. After the couple made their purchase, they spoke rather animatedly with the store employee for some time, of what we really didn’t pick up (social distancing interferes with eavesdropping considerably).
When they moved on and we finally approached the checkout counter, we were informed in a voice of great intensity and seriousness that the couple ahead of us had just “escaped from Canada!!” Yes, that’s right, they had just escaped from our friendly neighbors to the north and finally made it to this vast expanse of freedom known as the Great State of Texas.
My imagination was immediately stirred to visions of harrowing escapes in the dark of the night in dangerous conditions, such as those depicted in certain episodes of the television series based on the book, The Handmaid’s Tale. What horrors did they witness that these folk, young child in tow, would take such risks to flee? And from the account given by the pet store employee, they barely made it out.
(Apparently, they drove down here freely in their SUV and movers brought their stuff, but that hardly makes for a captivating story).
The pet store employee went on to say that these Canadian refugees told her the current state of affairs in their homeland is “horrible,” such that they could no longer remain. My wife and I were intrigued. What the hell is going on in Canada?! One hears about people fleeing to Canada for various reasons, but fleeing from? (I guess because of their healthcare system where basic care is provided to everyone, some have had to journey to America for elective procedures they didn’t want to wait for, such as a nip and tuck, but I don’t think that counts).
So what nightmares did our friendly Canadian refugees escape from?
Per the pet store employee, they said: “You can’t go anywhere unless you are vaccinated.” And by “anywhere,” we were told they said places such as restaurants and nightclubs, that is, places of a social nature. Now, I must honestly say I have not looked into what is going on in Canada in any great detail. As far as mandates enforced by the Canadian government, I know that all federal employees must be vaccinated, and proof of vaccination must be shown for interprovincial travel by plane or train. Stories reporting on this are a dime a dozen. That the Canadian government has mandated vaccines to go to Tim Horton’s is something I have not seen. My hunch is that individual businesses are requiring proof of vaccination because maybe they think that their employees and patrons have the right not to be needlessly exposed to a deadly virus that causes horrid suffering and death. But I honestly do not know.
But, taking this report of our newly minted Texans, formerly of that gulag of a country known as Canada, at their word, I must admit I am shaking my head. Now, we can agree or disagree about the rationality or legality of private businesses requiring proof of vaccination. We can discuss rights versus duties in a civil society. We can discuss the balance of personal medical choices and public health. We can even discuss whether your sacred political right to go to Smoke’s Poutinerie or to the nightclub to dance without a vaccination trumps the health risks posed to your fellow citizens during a time of a planet-wide deadly and highly contagious disease.
But to claim that conditions are “horrible” when those conditions are simply the restaurant you want to go to requires proof of vaccination? Sorry, pal. Not the same. Likewise, when you have both the freedom and the means to pack up and relocate and tell your tale to the lady checking you out at the pet store, you are not oppressed. You were not in danger.
How selfish have we become and how solipsistic, that being inconvenienced is perceived as oppression? How entitled are we when concern for the health and safety of fellow citizens takes a back seat to my jelly-filled Tim Horton’s donut the very moment I want it?
Such a conception of rights seems to me so deeply childish.
Perhaps our Canadian refugees who escaped the horrors of inconvenience will find a home where they think the “I” is absolute and for which the social order exists solely to serve it.