Emily Jaycox editorial

COLUMN: Are you awake yet?

In the past 10 months of the pandemic, when fear and misinformation has been rampant, it was often more appropriate and helpful, I hoped, to write messages of encouragement rather than scathing political denouncements or doom-filled rhetoric.

People have already been dealing with enough negativity and mental health is fragile for many. While that is true, and also important, there comes a point when positivity can be toxic; when it allows one to bury their head in the sand.

I’ve just finished reading the excellent Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Although it has many virtues I could extol about the skill of the storytelling, the gist of the line relevant to this discussion was: those who foretell of disaster are always disbelieved.

In the novels, which are loosely based on the history and geography of ancient Greece, though the events and characters are the author’s own, a newly crowned king prepares diligently for the enemy he knows is coming, despite derision and mocking from his citizens. He is disbelieved until the enemy is at their doors and it is all but too late.

Although a work of fiction, reviewing our own world history, we can see this phenomenon to be true. One example that comes immediately to mind is Appeasement, which did nothing to stop Hitler from seizing more power and advancing his war.

There is danger is dwelling in delusion.

Why? Because denial does nothing to prevent disaster.

The ongoing pandemic and the latest Trump madness in the States highlights this danger.

The insurrection of Trump Supporters storming the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6 was so surreal as to feel nothing short of apocalyptic. And yes, I say Trump supporters.

Rather than fuzzy images re-Tweeted over the Internet, I’ll trust the investigations of the FBI and the photos taken by Associated Press reporters on the ground that successfully lead to arrests.

READ MORE: Records show fervent Trump fans fuelled U.S. Capitol takeover

If the president’s own words, on video, telling supporters to march with him, aren’t enough for you to believe he incited the people and caused what followed, intended or not, other evidence is mounting as investigations continue.

It has been confirmed that participants in the riot included Republican party officials, white supremacists, Republican party donors, and followers of the bizarre QAnon conspiracy.

Trump has fed these radicals since he first campaigned for office, fanning the flames of racism, sexism, extremism, or any other group he could inflame to gather support for himself. It is his poisonous leadership over the years that has allowed these sentiments to grow and fester, and which formed the mob last week, that flocked to him when called upon.

They came, because they allowed themselves to be deceived by his rhetoric and lies, half-truths and untruths.

Even in Canada, Trump has adamant supporters. It’s this kind of willful ignorance that should concern everyone, as that is how civilization eventually collapses.

It is this same kind of willful ignorance that fuels anti-maskers and COVID-19 deniers.

On Jan. 10, Ontario reported a daily record of 3,945 new COVID-19 cases. The only thing from keeping Alberta turning into Ontario, and Canada from turning into the States, which has reached a total death toll of 323,148 according to the CDC, is the measures put in place early, to try to contain the spread.

MLA Ron Orr stated in his column this week “The worst thing we could do right now is increase chances of another wave of cases that would, in turn, jeopardize our healthcare system.”

READ MORE: MLA Ron Orr: ‘The worst thing we could do right now is increase chances of another wave’

Believe what you will of the Alberta government, or how they are handling the response to COVID-19: Orr isn’t wrong that we can’t afford to not take this seriously.

UCP MLAs taking out-of-country vacations is not evidence that the pandemic is not real, or is some kind of conspiracy to control the populace. What it is, is elected officials ignoring their own advice, because like everyone else, they are tired of the restrictions.

Perhaps those particular MLAs don’t personally feel COVID-19 is much of a threat or maybe they even thought the rules didn’t apply to them, but that doesn’t mean the whole pandemic is a lie.

They, like everyone else, are fallible and aren’t immune to the same weariness, mental fatigue and the weakness that makes one retreat into denial rather than facing problems head on. As they have a responsibiliy to set an example, they made a grave error in judgment.

The virus is here, it’s real, and it’s causing damage.

Being realistic about the threat the virus poses if left unchecked is not fear-mongering, it is prudent.

Denying the facts? Touting the banner of personal freedoms and complaining your rights are being violated? Subscribing to all the fringe theories and becoming initiated to the cesspit of lies on the so-called dark web? Now that is the real face of fear, desperately trying to comfort itself.

Sometimes comfort is called for, and sometimes people just need to wake up.