Posted in Mental health

The Vaccine Requirement

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

Titus 3:1-2 NIV

The above scriptures came up during my devotions this morning. I place them at the top of this post to help me to choose my words carefully. For only after soaking in their direction, am I able to responsibly pen the following post.

Let me sum it up for you briefly: I’m disappointed, and a little surprised. Maybe we are all tired of hearing and talking about COVID, and vaccines. But I would like to chime in as a quiet voice. A voice that does not often come through in the news.

I feel that I’m being painted as a villain, and excluded from some facets of normal life. Because I am not confident enough in the new vaccine to get the jab. I’m not alone, there are others. I am not against vaccines. My children have their routine shots. But I am taking a calculated risk. Would I rather risk potentially unknown side effects of a vaccine? Or a highly survivable virus? I would rather get the virus and allow my body to fight it off naturally.

I do my best to keep myself and my family healthy. We don’t get flu shots either. Again, it’s a calculated risk. If one of us had a chronic condition that increased our risk of not surviving a virus, I may reconsider. If it were a more deadly virus, I may reconsider.

And up until now, I’ve been free to make that choice. Flu shots were offered, and recommended, but not forced. All of that seems to be changing now.

We are told that the vaccine is safe, but the truth is that we don’t hear of adverse effects until after they have happened. Everybody is learning. What would the effect be on my body, 10 years from now? 20 years? Many scientists and medical professionals may say: No effect. There will be no effect.

But the truth is, they do not know. They did not predict the adverse effects or even deaths that have occurred in some people after getting the shot. They are smart, but they are not all-knowing. If they knew that a person would experience terrible side effects or even die in response to the vaccine, they would not have given it to them. I should hope not, anyway. But that is exactly what has happened, in some cases.

It has been a long year and a half of not being able to have regular family celebrations, or attend services and groups at my church. Of no extra-curricular activities being available to my children. I name those things because they are the most important ones to me. And now, these things are finally becoming available again. I was looking forward to having my kids mentored at church by adults other than myself; to attending a weekly women’s group that has been crucial for my mental health over the years; to getting my kids caught up on their swimming lessons. Maybe I would even find a place at church to serve. Sing in the choir, or reach out to people with additional needs. I was hoping to get a part-time job.

But last week, the Manitoba government announced that they were “expanding the benefits” of those who were fully vaccinated. Well…that’s a fine choice of words. A not-so-subtly manipulative slant. Because they are not expanding benefits for anyone. They are adding further restrictions, but only for those who don’t want the needle. In addition, they are creating divisions between people. So that those who have been vaccinated can flash their passports and be granted VIP access to things like swimming lessons. While we, presumably thoughtless, unvaccinated people remain safely outside the doors. We are not even permitted to work in many places, unless we get the vaccine.

One thing I’m grateful for, is that places of worship do not have vaccine requirements. Yet. I sure hope they don’t add that requirement but I realize it’s a possibility. I wonder what kind of disarray that would cause. Further divisions between people who used to be like family. All based on a personal choice of something so minor as a needle.

And what will I do, if that happens? I know what the leaders want. They say that these measures are intended to further encourage people to get the vaccine. Can I make this clearer? I don’t want the vaccine. I am not confident in it. No, I don’t have questions to ask you so you can put my mind at ease. You cannot answer my questions. Only time and the course of events will answer my questions.

And I have lost some of my confidence in you. You are taking things away from me that are necessary for good mental health. You are preventing me from getting a job. You are taking opportunities away from my children. You are forcing me to do something that goes against my self-protective instincts. Either vaccinate, or lose your sanity. Vaccinate, or deal with the sadness and loneliness of having your hands tied, your mouth taped shut, and your doors locked.

I will wear a mask, stay home when I’m sick, and physically distance from others. But being forced to line up for a vaccine that may not be necessary, and may even be harmful? Or else I can’t work? Something about that picture is frightening to me.

What about you? Are vaccinated and unvaccinated people being treated differently, where you live? How do you feel about the issue? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. However, abusive comments will not be tolerated on this blog.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Faith, Mental health, Parenting

A Letter to my Local MLA

Hello Mr. Goertzen,

I have two small requests as a stay at home mom affected by the recent school, preschool, park, church, and recreational facility closures in my home community of Steinbach.

Although I find it unfair that we are the only school division to be closed, and suspect that government motives behind this closure may have something to do with the voices of protest in our community that have recently made themselves known, I have been supportive and followed all of the rules presented to me.  I am working with my son to keep him on top of his remote learning.  I do not take an extreme stance on one side or the other on issues such as mask wearing, closures, and lock downs.  I choose to believe that for the most part, the authorities in place are doing their best with the information that is given to them, so I have complied with all of the protective measures that have been taken.

Only recently have I begun to feel like my rights are being violated.  As one of many parents who are relegated to small city yards with young children, I am wondering why the safe, outdoor, recreational opportunities in our community are shut down tight.  Although a generous neighbour on our street has set up a skating rink in the park, it is closed and cannot be used.  We also have a wonderful play structure in the same park which cannot be used.  The toboggan hills have opened up, and we are thankful for that.  We have gone sledding 4-5 times already.

I am no expert but I am aware that virus transmission outside, in open, cold air, under UV light, is extremely unlikely.  Could we not simply limit the numbers of people using a facility (such as a play structure or skating rink) at one time?  Contrary to what the media may portray, it has been my experience from living in the community of Steinbach that the vast majority of people are extremely cooperative with every restriction.  I feel that I am being slapped on the wrist for something I have not done, under the assumption that I will be uncooperative.

Another rule that I feel is extreme is not allowing drive-in church services.  I have been content (for the most part) to make do with the online services offered by my church.  But I believe it should be acknowledged that churches play an enormous role in the mental health and well being of community members, and disallowing people from visiting their places of worship and supportive communities for such a length of time is bound to have severe consequences.  I wonder how many cases of addiction, abuse, mental illness, divorce, and even suicide have been averted thanks to the wonderful work of churches in our community.  It is time to acknowledge the vital role that they play and stop viewing churches as an adversary.  Restrictions on churches need to be reasonably loosened, as soon as possible.  If I can see a doctor, purchase medications, or even buy alcohol or cannabis to help medicate my psychological and emotional struggles, I should be permitted to attend my church for the same reasons. The disallowance of even orderly, drive-in church services feels to me like blatant disregard and disrespect for their precious role in many people’s lives, not to mention acts of service towards the community such as providing free food and clothing, cleaning up garbage, sharing facilities for school graduations, sharing parking lots for school pickups and drop offs (when bussing has not been provided), etc., etc., etc.

In summation, I am asking that outdoor recreational facilities be opened for limited use in a community affected by school closures, and for some evidence that the government values churches to the point of making them more accessible to the people who need them.

Thank you for your consideration.

Posted in Parenting

It’s Summer in Manitoba!

Ah…summer.  We’ve dreamed of it all year.  Planned for it.  Reminded ourselves wistfully that it actually does exist, when the 6 months of winter have seemed too much to bear.

Vegetable seeds, planted with joy, have begun to sprout.  Anything seems possible!

Tents and supplies are hauled out and dusted off, as we all compete for prime camping spots.  We will clamour to live as sun-burned, homeless, mosquito-bitten nature-lovers for as long as we can possibly endure.

We’ve gleefully collected plastic 4 litre pails all winter (a great excuse to buy ice cream), in anticipation of strawberry picking season.  $10 a pail: fill ’em up, and shake ’em down.  Rounded – no…heaping on top.  “Don’t eat breakfast, kids!  We’re going to the strawberry patch!”

Mamas everywhere will wear themselves out with beach trips and bucket lists and litres upon litres of potato salad.  We’ll observe with wonder the gradual bronzing of our children’s skin, and the fading of their hair.  We’ll lovingly count their freckles as they appear.  We’ll watch proudly as they remember long-forgotten skills – bike riding, tree climbing, and flailing around in the water.  We’ll cackle with satisfaction at the wild little creatures they will become.

The privilege of manual labour will be re-discovered, when paired with hot winds, cold drinks, and copious amounts of vitamin D (aka sunshine).

Smelling of soil, sweat, smoke, and sunscreen, we’ll forego our make-up but look nicer than ever.  We’ll linger outside, and watch the sun setting over the lake at 10:00 pm.  We’ll wonder why the kids are still up, and then let them stay up a little bit more.

For, we know how brief the summer is.  Soon, the nights will grow longer, and darker, and cooler.  We will sigh, and lament the seasonal change…outwardly, at least.

But the truth is, we’ll be tired.  Our old routines will beckon us, and we’ll quietly welcome back the casseroles, hot drinks, and comfy sweaters.  We’ll wash off the sticky sunscreen.  The sunburn will fade and the bug bites will heal.  We’ll winterize: our homes, our yards, our cars, ourselves.

Survival mode will kick in as we brace ourselves for winter.  The first cold snap and the first real blizzard will carry an air of excitement that nobody wants to admit. 

Because: we’re in it together.  For the long haul.  The same people we sat with in the sun are the ones we will huddle with, over steaming mugs and frosty clouds of breath.

Wherever you live, and whatever the season, it is the people in your life that give these moments their meaning.

What’s the weather like where you are today?  Who are you spending the day with?  I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Warm wishes,

Lisa