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The coronavirus crisis has become a virtue-signalling nightmare

The government forced us to go on lockdown. This has turned out to be the perfect opportunity to strip us from our freedoms and to brag about it.
Jessica Swietoniowski Toronto, ON

Sadly, like most things these days, COVID-19 has become a political issue.

Just in a matter of weeks we went from “we’re all in this together” to “if you don’t wear a mask you don’t care if people die.”

At times of crisis, ideology and ideological bias are more evident. And now that COVID-19 is political, our elected officials are failing us. As a society we are more divided than ever.

We, as a nation, and as an entire globe are dealing with a pandemic and we have dug ourselves into a deeper hole of polarization.

We’ve all heard it many times, “Stay home, save lives.” Or “I’m just doing my part!” while wearing a mask and rubber gloves.

This has turned into yet another opportunity to virtue signal–to show everyone that you are a good person.

Virtue signalling is easier now because we are literally wearing our virtue on our faces.

If you have a mask and rubber gloves on, it’s because you care about people’s lives and if you’re not wearing them then you don’t care about people dying.

If you’re encouraging people to stay home, it’s because you believe you are well-informed and are listening to the facts. But if you want to re-open the country, it’s because you care more about money than lives.

We are already seeing the “virtuous” mob mentality forming.

A woman was screamed at and forced out of a grocery store by other shoppers for not wearing a mask. This mob believes everything they were told about masks. So, to them, their actions were virtuous. They were in the right and that woman was in the wrong.

When people believe they are right, they will justify even the worst actions.

Even when it comes to a widespread virus from China, we are divided into groups.

It’s the right–who largely want to end the shutdown–versus the left–who largely want to continue the shutdown.

We have celebrities singing John Lennon’s “Imagine,” preaching to us and encouraging us to stay home while they sit in their million dollar mansions. And we have the media scolding us, going as far as calling people “Covidiots.”

The reality is that we have a new deadly virus in the world, one which we know very little about, but governments have quickly used this crisis to control the masses.

The government forced us to go on lockdown. This has turned out to be the perfect opportunity to strip us from our freedoms and to brag about it.

We are in a constant battle between life and death. Lives ruined by closing business and losing their livelihoods, and death due to coronavirus.

At this point, it’s lose-lose.

We are even forgetting how to interact with each other.

When we pass each other on the street there is a moment of stress and panic, who will cross the street first? We have to stay six feet apart. How do we get past each other in the narrow aisles of a grocery store?

It’s becoming more and more uncomfortable to be around people.

We are so far past healthy human interactions, especially with the younger generations who have turned to online dating and have developed so many social anxieties before this pandemic even began.

Politicians have put in arbitrary rules such as social distancing or banning sports unless it’s one-on-one, and of course, they break these rules themselves. Their hypocrisy in the face of their own rules proves that many of our elected officials are in over their heads.

Like the rest of us, our politicians hadn’t really considered the full implications of the pandemic.

At the start of this pandemic, there was tremendous political pressure to shut down businesses before the government made it mandatory.

And we are still feeling the pressure from people all around us. No one wants to look like they don’t care, or aren’t taking this pandemic seriously–but at what cost? We are pandering to those calling on us to be “virtuous?”

It’s easy to call on people to do what you think is right, but it’s another thing to live up to your own standards.

Just last weekend we saw Toronto Mayor, John Tory break his own rules by not social distancing or properly wearing a mask at Trinity Bellwoods Park while scolding others.

And before that, Premier Doug Ford went to his cottage after asking us all not to.

Hypocrisy is one thing for a politician but they are still human– right?–do they not see the damage caused by these shut downs? Do they feel even a little guilty?

Do they see how unrealistic it is to tell a vibrant city like Toronto, after a long winter, to stay at home on the hottest day in months? Why would they rather shut everything down and have people defecate in the streets because there are no public washrooms available?

There is no easy path forward, no matter what decisions are made, people will die.

Going forward we need to make the right choices, not the political choices. My biggest fear is that most of our politicians are incapable of putting the public interest over their political self-interest.

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Jessica Swietoniowski
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