One of the many faces of Salmon Arm Bay on Shuswap Lake, this one on an October day. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

One of the many faces of Salmon Arm Bay on Shuswap Lake, this one on an October day. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Column: Conversation helps dilute pandemic hatred

The View From Here by Martha Wickett

I had a beautiful conversation with an acquaintance the other day, someone I don’t know well.

Among other topics, I mentioned that the past year or so has been the hardest time to be a journalist I’ve experienced in my bazillion years of doing the job, because there’s a constant onslaught of meanness and nastiness directed at reporters in general.

While criticism comes with the work and is necessary and expected from time to time, this is different. Over the top. It comes from a minority of people but is constant and is filled with hatred, accusations and disdain.

The person I was speaking with had a similar story, but from a different angle.

They don’t want to be vaccinated for the coronavirus and said they have experienced constant verbal attacks. With a look tinged with disbelief, they said people have even told them they hope they die of Covid-19.

Neither of us talked that day about our opinions on the virus or the vaccines; we talked about hatred. How harmful and hurtful it is.

I describe that conversation as beautiful because it was a connection of kindness between two people with differing opinions. It was a window into that person’s humanness, a behind-the-scenes look at the goodness of their heart. There was no name-calling, no desperation, no attempt to convince each other of what’s right and wrong.

It has stuck with me.

The night of my conversation I spoke with a longtime friend whose opinions on the pandemic differ from mine.

I said I believe that she’s “well-informed,” and I believe I’m “well-informed.” We have drawn different conclusions from all the information we have digested. At this point I don’t think I could convince her otherwise, nor will she change my mind. So we won’t try.

But can we be friends and be kind and respectful to each other, even though this is potentially a life-and-death situation?

I hope so. I think so.

I have heard similar stories of hatred. Theatres, for instance, had a choice to go with 50 people and less along with contact tracing, or 50 people and up with vaccine cards. Salmar Cinemas tried the first option first. Furious accusations spewed forth about endangering the town by letting unvaccinated people go to the movies. Then they tried the other choice. That sparked unbridled rage about being fascists.

Fear and uncertainty and hardship and isolation have been brutally hard on people. These are tough times, far tougher for some than others.

I think feeding the hatred only makes theses times harder.

So I’m going to try to keep reaching for kindness and respect, with help from the truth of that beautiful conversation.

Read more: Interior Health restrictions likely mean B.C.’s lifting of COVID-19 rules delayed in Shuswap

Read more: Shuswap mayor urges kindness in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic
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