Freedom Misunderstood

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Freedom Misunderstood

What does it mean now when we see Canadian flags displayed in windows of cars and houses? It used to be that these were signs of a touching and genuine patriotism. Now, they seem to be coopted for a more sinister purpose.

What does it mean now when we see Canadian flags displayed in windows of cars and houses? It used to be that these were signs of a touching and genuine patriotism. Now, they seem to be coopted for a more sinister purpose.

Last month there were a number of cars and trucks sporting Canadian flags lined up on the road that runs through the lovely park below my patio. A speaker with a loud voice and a megaphone spouted a lot of foolish talk to a small audience. I called out “Go away” and “Go home!” from above the park, but of course they didn’t hear me, nor would they have listened. Their beliefs are unshakeable.

and I’ve tried to be compassionate towards people protesting vaccination and health advisories. But what occurs to me is that these are people who need to get a life.

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Margaret Atwood makes the distinction between belief and truth: “A belief cannot be either proved or disproved. If you wish to believe that invisible flower spirits are causing your string beans to grow, there is no power in my trying to dissuade you, because these entities are invisible and immaterial.” The belief does not constitute a fact.

The article is typical Atwood: smart, clear, concise. and well worth reading: https://www.theatlantic.com/books/archive/2022/04/margaret-atwood-hitchens-prize-speech/629443/

People who gather under the name of “Freedom” Convoy would be quick to insist that they have the facts — and they’ve acquired a handful of nutty “experts” who stand with them.in promoting anti-vax rhetoric, fear-mongering, and conspiracy theories. They will not be influenced by the opinions of the vast majority of scientists around the world, nor the research findings of epidemiologists, health professionals and medical organizations. 

I am so very, very tired of the people who were linked with the Freedom Convoy and continue to line up and wave flags. Tired of the way they are abusing our flag and twisting our language. These days, when we see a Canadian flag in a window, we don’t know what it means, but we suspect the worst. The word “freedom” is being used in ways that make no sense at all. The word “trucker” is being used to describe such protesters when in fact most truckers have continued to work and deliver goods and have disassociated themselves from the Convoy people.

I’m saddened by the enormous mural recently painted on a building on the highway near me. The word FREEDOM appears in very large, red capital letters, and underneath it is a maple leaf, and beneath that a big, black truck. Thus, it links the word “freedom” and the emblem of the Canadian flag with a lot of deplorable things: toxic exhaust fumes, blaring horns, yelling voices, disrespectful behaviour, racism, bullying, and civil disruption. And it misrepresents the vast majority of truckers.

We live in a democracy so I guess people can paint their buildings any way they like, but it’s disheartening.

Serious disagreements can occur among friends and family and I’ve tried to be compassionate towards people protesting vaccination and health advisories. But what occurs to me is that these are people who need to get a life. There may be a very few individuals with genuine reasons for refusing masks and vaccines, but for most of us adhering to the mandate is not a big deal. We have more pressing concerns, work to do, gardens to care for, families to enjoy, things to read and think about. We can feel fulfilled without having to gather as part of a posse of protesters. We respect the POGG (peace, order and good government) clause on which our constitution is based. 

Many people seem to object to following rules of any sort. Some groups think the government can’t tell them what to do and some want to challenge any  employer who requires employees to follow certain safety requirements, especially with regard to COVID.  But most of us are OK with getting a driver’s license, wearing a seatbelt, driving on the right side of the road and stopping at crosswalks, because it keeps us safe. We accept vaccines for the same reason. We don’t litter. We don’t spit on the street. We don’t carelessly spread infection. We believe in democracy, pay attention to all levels of government and try to advocate and vote for honorable politicians.

One Thanksgiving, many years ago, my family made lists of all the things for which we were grateful. I was surprised that my little granddaughter had written RULES right up there next to her parents and her dog. “Really?” I asked  and questioned why. “Because, without rules, everything would be terrible,” she said.

There’s a character in Shakespeare’s King John who says, “Now … Vast confusion waits, as does a raven on a sick fallen beast.” It feels like that. We’re seeing some terrible things these days as, more and more frequently, confusion is challenging order.

As Atwood suggests, we live in desperate times which require desperate remedies. We desperately need to find ways to hold on to our democracy which, increasingly, is under attack.