Courage to work

Today, we are at an important decision point in our lives and society. We are two days after Labour Day and two weeks before the end of the CERB. We’ve written before of the urgency for all of us to get back to work and restart our society.

We’ve presented numbers and statistics on how critical it is for this to happen. But this week has a particular poignancy. Perhaps at no other point in our lifetimes has the courage to work been so widely discussed, so vitally needed and so important to our character as now. The circumstances of the global response to the pandemic have not only changed our concept of money, they have put into question — for many — the value of work itself. That is a very bad thing

The restoration of our courage is not helped by notices from Quebec that a “normal” number on Covid is 20 infections per million people. That was released just before the long Labour Day weekend. It is silly and unattainable. And not based on any science. It means no more than 170 infections per day in the province. So naturally many started getting nervous again once we averaged some 200 over the past days. We’re never getting to zero. We still have infections from viruses past.

Getting back to work is not merely about fuelling profits. It is about fuelling our passions for building our futures and defining ourselves. We have no choice. It is time to steel our resolve.

Even government statistics demonstrate that the dangers of return are relatively minor. Chances of infection are just 1.5%. Much less than those who profit from panic would lead you to believe. But there is more than numbers that should reignite our courage to work.

Sitting at home in fear and collecting subsistence amounts from the state will destroy our futures. We will not realize our dreams, our resolve for life will wither away and our children will not be able to realize any of the aspirations they and you — their parents — have. Are you really ready to sacrifice their futures. Many will already be permanently affected by colleges and universities going online. Primary and high school students have suffered in their development as well. The initial numbers from the return to schools have belied all the panic. Only some 60 schools in the whole province have seen even a few cases of infection.

Your parents and grandparents overcame much more. They fought wars. They worked two jobs. They survived the 1957 and 1968 pandemics that in the former case matched Covid’s toll and in the latter case saw numbers three times worse. With no lockdowns. They did not live with the foolish notions of perfection and protection from any threat of life. As the title of an off-Broadway play some years ago warned, “Life is not a dress-rehearsal.”

If you are looking for an all clear it’s not coming because no politician will risk it. Several days ago Premier Legault pleaded that at least 25% of workers in factories and staff in offices return. That is not happening. Even though there is a clear and present danger that lack of revenues will cause a reduction in funding to hospitals, schools and social security. Are you really ready to live with those consequences?

The reality is that the blessings of unprecedented choice and prosperity we enjoy came at a price. Our lethargy and fear risks all of that. We cannot allow ourselves to remain indentured serfs to the state. The state can’t fix this by itself. If we do not marshal our courage to work, we will remain cogs in a system that may be beyond repair. And we’ll not be helping the state of things by sitting on a couch waiting for a government cheque.

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