The fear of us versus them

To the Editor

Seventeen years ago we purchased a cottage in the Haliburton area. After exploring many other recreational areas we chose Haliburton due to its vibrant nature; a place where people treated each other with dignity and respect a thriving social and business community a great sense of local pride and a more casual approach to interacting with each other.

From the first day we chose to support the local community. We always used local service people bought our food appliances and recreational supplies in town supported local charities such as the Rotary food banks Lily Ann and HHHS to name a few. We attended church in town and made many local friends. In short we became I thought part of the community. And we happily paid property taxes for services we might not use.

Hence I have been following the worrisome discussion on the role of “seasonal people” in the time of COVID-19. Unfortunately the fear of COVID-19 has helped ignite underlying basic issues. Every community has a bit of “local versus outsiders” in its DNA. I have lived in several cities and towns and in many cases we were considered “from away”; only those born in town were locals.

This week we came to our cottage to check on its condition especially pesky water leaks. We bought all our supplies in town self-isolated and if we get even a whiff of a symptom we are heading back to the city ASAP; we will not burden HHHS. I believe this is a sound strategy.

Yet I also worry about the local economy. The fact is that this community relies on what has been unfortunately called “tourist dollars” to help sustain the local business which employ many people (we do not consider ourselves as tourists). I worry that local businesses will suffer if all cottagers decided to conduct all our purchases back in the city. We want to shop and spend our money locally to support the community in which we partially live year-round.

Therefore I would ask that all of us take a collective deep breath. Let’s continue to practice social distancing wear masks and gloves when shopping and stay home as much as possible. Roosevelt once said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Let’s not let COVID -19 be a virus that also attacks our community spirit of taking care of one another and respecting each other. COVID-19 will eventually go away but any self-imposed animosity can linger for a very long time.

As Churchill stated let us “never surrender” to the dark side of this virus.

With thanks to the mayor council and all our health care and essential workers who are working tirelessly.

J. Richard Blickstead

Toronto and Haliburton