Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. CNS photo/John Morris, Reuters

Charles Lewis: We don’t need divisive teaching from on high

By 
  • January 19, 2022

We are living in a time of deep mistrust. It’s not the first time in history that has happened but it’s happening now, so we must deal with it or at least try to understand it. It is especially rampant under the cloud of COVID and the issues surrounding the vaccine.

Mistrust is not healthy. It’s a symptom of a broken world. It’s not Christian because it breaks the bonds of community and goes against loving one’s neighbour.

Let me start with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent remarks about the 3.5 million Canadians who are opposed to the vaccine. From the discussions I’ve had with vaccine resisters, my guess is his remarks didn’t help. Instead of attempting to understand their fears, he chose to alienate. He made it an us vs. them. There was no love. 

“When people see that we are in lockdowns or serious public health restrictions right now because of the risk posed to all of us by unvaccinated people, people get angry.”

The crux of his remarks was this: We good Canadians, the ones who have been vaccinated, are angry at you bad Canadian who have not been vaccinated.

I’m vaccinated. It was the right choice for me given I’m 71, have liver cancer and asthma.

I also know four people, including a first cousin, who died from COVID. Each passed away before the vaccine was available. I believe if they had gotten it they would be alive today. I won’t listen to anyone who says COVID is a hoax. That’s beyond ridiculous.

But I also believe the latest lockdowns are ridiculous and I blame governments, not the unvaccinated.

There are legitimate concerns about the vaccine. Its great unknown is what future effects it might have on our bodies. A young friend fears for the babies she hopes to have. That seems legitimate and unselfish and we should take that seriously.

In the 1950s and ’60s thalidomide was prescribed to women to help lessen the discomfort of morning sickness. It caused massive defects in more than 10,000 babies. Those who prescribed these drugs likely thought they were doing the right thing. How could they know what the future would bring?

When my mother was pregnant with me, her doctor prescribed filtered cigarettes. In retrospect, it seems insane but back then it helped calm the nerves of my anxious mother.

It would be easy to dismiss those examples as relics of a less advanced time. Though years from now it’s likely we’ll look back at the times we live in now as relics of a less sophisticated time.

Among the unvaccinated, there is also the mistrust of government.

I suspect that many resisters are like me: pro-life and orthodox in their religious beliefs. They feel they have been ignored and laughed at by the Liberal elite, the same professional politicians who believe abortion is a Canadian value.

We were lied to about euthanasia. It would only be for those in grievous pain and near death. Being near death is no longer a requirement. Suffering, which is utterly subjective, is the new requirement. In March 2023 the mentally ill will also get the right to be killed. The government is now trying to figure out how that will work. Good luck with that. There’s probably some manual in German from the 1930s about how to safely kill the mentally ill.

For the vaccine hesitant and pro-lifers alike, we feel we are tolerated rather than seen as honoured members of society like any other citizen.

A week after Trudeau’s comments, Quebec Premier François Legault said a penalty tax would be imposed on the unvaccinated. Legault is no friend of the religious. His Bill 21 forbids  public sector workers in the province from wearing religious symbols and garb.

So, this brings me back to the vaccine. I worry about my friends who are not vaccinated. I don’t want them to suffer and then die. But the last thing I want to do is mock or bully them. I need to pray for them and show them respect. Which, by the way, they also need to show the vaccinated.

What we don’t need is divisive preaching from on high. That is not the way of a good leader. But as Catholics we already knew that.

(Lewis is a regular contributor to The Catholic Register.)

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