Martin Luther King had a dream about a civilized and kinder world.
Recently, I’ve have had recurring nightmares about a world gone mad.
I wake up in a cold sweat and vividly re-trace the narrative that my mind has wrestled with while I twisted the bedsheets into a pretzel and ground my teeth into another costly repair job for my dentist.
The nightmare begins in China with the outbreak of a virus that local officials there tried to cover up instead of alerting the rest of the world and preventing the loss of millions of lives, the destruction of economies and the creation of staggering debt that will take generations to repair.
In this saga, people turn to the almighty United States for guidance and help because those folks are well known for their power, belief in good causes and ability to respond to crises.
But the people of the U.S. were fed up with politicians and had elected an egomaniac, bully and former TV star as President. He was also a liar. The occupant of the White House knew of the deadly virus in China but lied about it and assured everyone there was nothing to worry about.
In Canada, we weren’t quick to respond. As the virus spread, we were slow to close borders and there were mixed messages about how much trouble we were in and argument about what to do about it.
Meanwhile, the virus was ripping through our longterm care facilities and our old folks were dying in isolation in their final days.
There was great celebration when drug companies announced they had developed effective vaccines to save us all. Everyone agreed it was nothing short of a miracle that the science had succeeded so quickly. Wahoo.
Unfortunately, we realized too late that Canada has no capacity to produce our own vaccines. And for some reason, our government partnered with the Chinese Communists to produce the vaccine for us but in a hissy fit China reneged on the deal and left us empty handed while other nations made deals elsewhere.
It was three months before Canadians learned from Ottawa what a mess we were in. I think it is at this point in the nightmare that I break out in a cold sweat.
The teeth grinding hits its zenith as health officials publicly debate what to do. Masks are not needed. Masks are mandatory. Big stores can stay open. Little stores must close.
Restaurants can open. No, they must close. Keep the kids home from school. No, keep the schools open.
As I write this, Kingston police are warning that under the current government-mandated Stay at Home order, we can leave our homes and visit public parks but we must keep moving. It’s illegal to stop for a rest or to sunbathe. I feel another nightmare coming on!
In my nightmares, kids have sprouted like weeds as they remain separated from lonely grandparents as the months pass. Special family events like graduations, weddings and funerals get postponed or cancelled.
We are squinting harder and harder to see the promised light at the end of the tunnel.
The political wars have become more heated as the narrative continues. It’s all Ottawa’s fault that there is not enough vaccine to protect our people. It’s the provinces’ fault because they can’t effectively distribute the vaccines they are given.
The situation brightened when the nutbar in the White House was defeated and stopped texting. My heart rate moderated as spring arrived and the return of robins provided hope and inspiration.
But cue the somber music. The nightmare accelerates. A new villain enters the picture. More lethal and more infectious variants are discovered and quickly add to our woes.
This time, it is our young people with the target on their backs.
I suspect my nightmares have caused me from time to time to mutter a few obscenities in my sleep.
For example, how to describe a Member of our Provincial Legislature who coaches and inspires fellow demonstrators to refuse to wear masks and social distance and insist on their right to gather in places like churches and bars.
They say they are demanding freedom. Freedom to spread disease that is filling our hospitals, exhausting health care workers, cancelling needed tests and surgeries and leaving a trail of death and misery?
I would definitely award MPP Randy Hillier and his trademark suspenders the Oscar for best performance by an actor in the nightmare episode titled Superspreaders.
On social media, he compares restrictions on travel, business and social interaction to Nazi powers under Adolf Hitler. Truly disgusting. Somebody please assure me we won’t all go this batass wacko if these pandemic orders go much past this summer.
Consider as well all those young people who congregate at Breakwater Park and other places and arrogantly thumb their noses at desperate orders to isolate and protect themselves and others, especially now that new Brazil variant has its deadly hooks into people of their generation.
Many of these are Queen’s students. But don’t blame the university for this. These kids are supposed to be the brightest and best of their generation. Blame them---and a society that has created this sense of entitlement.
People in my nightmare have changed. Many have thrown grooming and fashion to the wind, gained weight and become indecisive and lazy. In pre-pandemic times they would talk about kids’ sports, the stock market, the latest good movie on the big screen, new recipes, volunteerism and house prices. Even politics.
Now, there is only one subject. “Got your shot yet? Wait till I tell you about the four hours I spent on the computer and telephone….”
It’s obvious that getting vaccine into this country is a tough job. Getting it into the arms of Canadians is a whole other ball of wax.
I’m a participant in scenes where we celebrate with family and neighbours who have overcome a minefield of obstacles and received appointments to get their first shots of vaccine.
Our daughter and her husband, who live in Belleville, drove to Kingston for their vaccinations. Meanwhile, my husband got an appointment in Napanee. Our neighbours across the street are both going to Picton. And the couple next door will have to make two trips. She’s going to Belleville and he is scheduled in Picton.
To me, this resembles a sequence from the old CBC Radio show Madly Off in All Directions. Or maybe it was from the movie, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
It's usually about this point that I wake up and shout, “Is there anybody in charge here who knows what the hell they’re doing?”
I drag myself out of bed, crank up the coffee pot and wearily get ready to face another day of wondering how and when this nightmare will all end.