Sunday, October 24, 2021

Thankful to Have the Opportunity to be Thankful

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was involved in a discussion with friends about the many things for which we are thankful. Though my initial response was that I was thankful that this year was nearly over, the reality is, that no matter how wretched this year and the year before it have been, our daily lives here in Canada with or without the virus can be considered among the safest and most envied around the globe.

As thankful as we may be, it is quite okay to look back on the past two years with mixed emotions; frustration, anger, fear, confusion, aggravation, sadness, and even loneliness have all been natural for us to experience throughout this dastardly pandemic.

Prior to 2020, none of us were anticipating that the next two years of our lives would be largely controlled by a virus that, though not as deadly as first feared, more than 219 million have been infected, and the virus has taken the lives of more than 4.5 million worldwide.

Here in Canada we have been more fortunate than many other nations, however we have still seen more than 1.5 million fellow Canadians infected, and we have lost more than 28,000 to the virus.

I am thankful that it hasn’t been much worse, I am thankful that the virus that has spread across the globe hasn’t been as deadly as it could have been – perhaps the next global virus won’t be so forgiving. The next virus might not give us the luxury of time to squabble amongst ourselves about masks and distancing, the next virus might not be hampered by any vaccine we throw at it.

In many ways I am thankful that this pandemic was COVID-19, and not some other much more deadly virus with far greater transmissibility.

But the past two years have also given us an opportunity to see the best in our friends and neighbours, and even strangers as isolated as we have been over this time. Throughout this pandemic we have witnessed the power of community, the strength and resilience of our healthcare workers, and the ability for us to pull together in order to work toward a common goal, in this case the containment if not the eradication of a pesky and deadly virus.

The last I checked Ontario’s vaccination data, we are approaching 90 percent of eligible Ontarians having received the first shot, and more than 82 percent of us have had both shots. As vocal as the anti-vaccine folks have been, it is clear that the vast majority of us have seen fit to trust the science, to trust our doctors, and we have received the vaccine. Let’s not fool ourselves however, as no vaccine is a silver bullet, and no vaccine can guarantee that it will continue to be effective as a virus mutates, but it has been our best shot at limiting the spread and impact of the virus. The vaccine is just one tool in the toolbox, but it is an important tool to be sure.

2021 has indeed been a year of continued frustration and uncertainty, but we are nearing its end. October will shift into November, and before we know it the holiday season will be upon us. This year, unlike last, we will be able to gather with friends and family, just as we did over the Thanksgiving weekend. A small step forward perhaps, but a step forward nevertheless.

In short, I am thankful for the opportunity to be thankful at all; not everywhere in the world provides the conditions in order to be thankful. I would imagine that it is much more difficult to be thankful as bombs are dropping on your town, or while terrorists are waging war on your government. I would think that it is more challenging to express thanks if you and your family are slowly starving to death in the midst of a drought. I am certain that it would be difficult to feel thankful if you were sent to a work camp for expressing disagreement with your government. We truly do have it very good here in Canada if we take an honest look around the world, where mask mandates and vaccines are the least of the worries of many.

This lingering pandemic can understandably make us jaded, but if we can set aside our frustrations, we can see that this experience, though horrid, has been little more than an inconvenience when compared to what many in the world have to contend with daily, and have done for decades.

We are almost through this ordeal, and for that I am indeed thankful.

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