Facing signs of chaos, Canadians must hold it together in COVID fight

By Shachi Kurl, President

Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer;/

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/

The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats wrote The Second Coming a century ago, at the end of the First World War, at the beginning of the Irish War of Independence, and in the midst of the flu pandemic. I think about this poem, the staple of a very solid public education, a lot these days. He may as well have written it (at least the first stanza) for what we are experiencing now.

That blood-dimmed tide we were warned about so consistently is upon us, COVID-19’s second wave. Every day, some new record is broken in the number of infections recorded in any given province. Even the famed “Atlantic bubble” has failed.

The worst, filled with their passionate intensity, generate headlines for spitting on or punching fellow citizens over a mask mandate, as they have done in British Columbia. In Alberta, they leak documents further exacerbating the painfully obvious awkwardness between senior public health officials and the Jason Kenney government over how to fight the pandemic. And in Etobicoke, they cry out that this is Canada, not North Korea, in support of a rogue restaurant owner charged for refusing to follow public health orders.

We, the falcons, are tuning out the falconers – in this case public health officials who, after many months, have yet to twig that the dulcet tones of their gentle exhortations and cajoling have become white noise against this backdrop of chaos. No longer do we gush over cool scientists who wear Fluevog shoes and periodic table dresses. They’ve started to sound like mom. I love my mom; she is the best. She reminds me daily to take my vitamins. I confess, I’ve tuned her out too.

For the rest of this piece, please view it on the Ottawa Citizen’s site where it was initially published.