Editor's desk stock photo.

The Editor’s Desk: Don’t look for a loophole

Leo Tolstoy began his novel Anna Karenina with the famous line “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

It seems that during COVID-19, no families — happy or otherwise — are alike. At least, that is the message I’m getting from some comments by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who said recently that she is fielding hundreds of questions from families around B.C. who have heard her Christmas advice — do not travel, and stay within your household bubble — but feel sure that their circumstances are different, and want to know if that means it’s okay for them to go against her advice.

“I’ve been inundated with hundreds of ‘what about my specific situation?’” Henry said. People want to have others over for Christmas, or travel to see someone outside their bubble, and want Henry’s approval of their plan (and the rationale behind it), presumably so they can justify their actions by saying if it’s okay with Dr. Bonnie, it should be fine with everyone else.

The fact that they feel they have to get a dispensation from Henry might be an indication that they know they really shouldn’t be doing what they’re planning (if you have to ask forgiveness for something before you embark on it, you might want to rethink your plans). But it’s understandable. It’s been nine months, COVID fatigue is a very real phenomenon, and it’s hard to see Christmas as one more thing that’s slipping through our fingers in 2020.

Plus the people who feel they need to ask permission are probably the same people who have been following the rules: wearing masks, not travelling, limiting their shopping trips, staying within their bubble, foregoing so many of the tiny pleasures that make life enjoyable. They have been assiduous in staying away from friends and family members who might be at high risk of getting COVID-19; they have cancelled or severely curtailed weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation celebrations. They have done the right thing, over and over, and all they want now is a bit of joy at Christmas.

But what they’re seeing all around them is what people versed in decision theory call “the sucker’s payoff”. They’ve done what was asked of them for months, sacrificing much along the way, and now the holiday season looks set to be another casualty; yet the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the province rises day after day, because others aren’t doing the right thing. Worse, those people who are flouting the rules — going to parties, holding that birthday celebration, getting together with those outside their household for Christmas merriment — are reaping immediate, positive benefits. No wonder so many rule-abiding people think they’ve been suckers, and are desperately looking for a holiday loophole.

Elsewhere in this week’s paper there is a mention of a parable about a small bird that filled its beak with water to drop on a fire. When asked if it thought that such a tiny amount of water would put the fire out, the bird replied that it at least contributed, along with all the others who were helping. That, I think, is how we need to look at this Christmas. Instead of saying in despair “It doesn’t matter what I do, because it won’t change anything,” realize that we are all working together, and that our individual actions will, collectively, add up to a powerful whole.

On the day that I am writing this, the first COVID-19 vaccine has been administered in B.C. Is it the beginning of the end? Perhaps not, but it is almost certainly the end of the beginning. We have come too far, and endured too much, to give up now. Instead of looking for a loophole, stitch things up even tighter, so that Christmas 2021 can be everything — and more — that Christmas 2020 might not be.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Columnist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

(File Photo)
Crash causes delays on Coquihalla southbound, travel advisory issued

A vehicle incident between Merrit and Hope has caused major delays heading south

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read