Forget about mandatory COVID vaccinations what the country (and maybe the world) needs is a mandatory COVID vacation.
For the past two years, we've all lived with the constant and unavoidable drone of COVID "news" like some vast industrial machine running incessantly nearby. Sometimes the noise is subdued, yet seldom beneath the threshold of hearing. At other times the great machine picks up volume and rises to barely tolerable levels. But it never stops entirely and there is no place to go to avoid hearing it.
The machine never relents and it leads to frayed nerves and jangled emotions.
People lash out at one another over disagreements on the best course of action. Governments struggle to keep up with the latest developments and their advice keeps changing, raising endless possibilities for debate - or worse.
The news media, which thrives on conflict and controversy, dutifully displays "both sides" of every government policy announcement.
Experts, both pro and con, evaluate every health-care agency's recommendations with talking points debated in public. Everyday citizens are forced to make decisions and often condemn others who make different choices. Even Midland Today has run a series of conflicting opinions in their letters to the editor that serves to keep emotions bubbling and controversy alive.
This doesn't even mention the echo chamber of social media that amplifies every disagreement and drives people into opposing camps frequently demonizing the other "side."
And all the while the machine drones relentlessly on in the background.
So here is my proposal.
I call for an immediate ban on any and all mention of the pandemic and related matters. For seven days, every Canadian must take a mandatory COVID vacation.
News outlets will not be permitted to publish opinions or news about the pandemic. Social media will be required to block all references to the disease, its treatment and especially people's opinions on the subject.
No individual will be permitted to discuss the topic on pain of being publicly disrespected. No politician or medical expert shall make any pronouncements. No pundits shall make any prognostication regarding the end - or continuation of the pandemic. No death tolls or case totals are to be announced.
The only exception would be to declare a complete and final cure available to all.
Let the great machine fall silent, if only for a week.
Let every Canadian find respite in silence, freed from the constant reminder of the unique times we inhabit. Freed from the suspicion of one another that the disease has given rise to, we may just begin to see that we are all in this together. Or not.
But I'd still welcome a COVID vacation. I already have my bags packed even if I can't go anywhere.
(Robert Codd is an avid nature photographer who dabbles in writing. He currently serves as vice president of the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists and is on the board of directors for MTM Conservation Association, the folks who manage Tiny Marsh. He and his wife Susan moved to the Midland area in 2009 and wish they could have done so 20 years sooner.)