Hope Dealer

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming” – Pablo Neruda

realize that we don’t want to support businesses that don’t support us, so we still only go to 3 restaurants in Kelowna – the ones that defied government orders and adhered to their moral code during Bon Bon’s winter reign of terror). The second being that the spring was wet and cold;  an anomaly for this part of the world which added to the general ennui of this year, and which has rendered the pepper plants in my vegetable garden tiny and barren.  Right now feels like the calm before the storm, for many reasons.  The media has been working overtime to drum up fear in Canadian citizens this summer, whether it be through monkeypox, the latest COVID-19 variant, climate change or food shortages.  Ironically, the only thing mainstream media doesn’t appear to be worried about is the recession that has started to affect every Canadian’s quality of life and ability to support oneself.  However, the haze of summer, and the draw of beaches, pools and barbecues, has thus far kept these fearmongering wolves at bay.

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It’s been a strange year in the Okanagan Valley, for many reasons.  The first, of course, is that up until March of this year, my family wasn’t allowed to sit down at a restaurant, or go to a movie (fun fact:  Dr. Henry’s sanctions made us

One of my friends, Sarah dropped by unexpectedly last night.  She is a salt of the earth freedom fighter, an extremist of the worst fringe minority who drove from Kelowna to Ottawa in January to protest government mandates.  While the rest of us have lost some enthusiasm for protesting and fighting during this summer of reprieve, Sarah has continued to fight, organizing local convoys, driving her freedom-decorated truck around town and creating freedom merchandise.  She dropped by to say hi, and to give me the pictured hat (shown above), and I have to say that her timing was impeccable.  Part of the reason that I have lost my fire in recent months is the feeling that some of our fighting is useless, and that the powers that be will proceed with their plans no matter how we protest.  Sarah’s visit, and optimism in the face of adversity, reminded me that our government is actively at war with us, physically and psychologically, trying to beat us down and teach us learned helplessness because it knows we are strong, and our only shot at winning this battle is to remain that way.  And speaking of learned helplessness, who remembers reading about this in a psychology course??  I had to refresh my memory of Seligman’s sadistic experiments on dogs, where he shocked different groups to teach them either that they had control over their environment to stop their pain, or that resistance was futile (don’t worry, in true psychologist style he later tortured the dogs who initially learned how to avoid pain). 

 

The similarities to the mental torture inflicted by our government over the past few years are striking:  first Drs Bon Bon and Tam promised that the citizens of Canada had control of the situation – we could flatten the curve in two weeks!  But then the goalposts shifted as lockdowns extended, weddings and funerals were cancelled, businesses were bankrupted and the unvaccinated were blamed … for everything.  And then, of course, this January the truckers convoyed to save us from our government, lifting the spirits of so many who had felt so bleak, only for our government to play dirty pool by refusing to acknowledge them, smearing them, trampling them, beating them, and claiming a fake “emergency” to provide itself with limitless unconstitutional powers.  The goal, of course, was to teach each Canadian that we don’t have any control over our political situation, and that the best thing to do is to stop protesting and roll up our arms.  When learned helplessness is mixed with a healthy dose of gaslighting (repeat after me:  safe and effective, safe and effective, safe and effect-), it is no wonder that so many are struggling to recover from the pain that was inflicted upon them.

Of course, many of us (15%?) have proven to ourselves and each other that we are more resilient than our environment, and the government’s estimation of us.  Unlike Seligman’s dogs, we will continue to work to find new avenues to protest and fight for our rights, and we will continue to work to hold those who have wronged us (and our family members) accountable, no matter how many times we fail.  For now, we all need to enjoy the warm weather, appreciate the good times we have with our families and friends, and stock our houses with food and tangibles to prepare for whatever lies ahead of us.  Thanks Sarah, for reminding me that we are all responsible for creating hope in these times!