By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

I received feedback this week that one of the letters we ran regarding the trucker convoy last week constituted a personal attack. While it didn’t single out a specific person, it did paint rally attendees with a certain brush. The person said it’s all the more important that letter writers express themselves respectfully because the newspaper serves small communities that are being divided on such issues.

While I disagreed that I should have asked the letter writer to edit their words, I told the person that I would take it under advisement that words may have a different impact in small communities than larger centres. Will I start censoring unsavoury language for its own sake?

Absolutely not. But there was a grain of truth in her feedback that I could take to heart, perhaps not for letters, but for our coverage in general.

Have rural places been affected differently than larger ones? What do we in smaller communities have to gain or lose?

With the exception of some people losing their jobs, it feels like our small communities have fared well from a human-interaction perspective during this “divisive” time of vaccine mandates. I see very little debate or personal attacks on social media. People seem to be keeping their distance. Is it because we aren’t card-carrying zealots one way or another? I certainly know some very vocal people who won’t give an inch, so that can’t be it. Is it because people in small towns are afraid of confrontation? Perhaps, but I’ve also heard of people flouting the mandates with what can only be described as a tolerant reaction from local businesses.

As someone who can see the arguments on the many sides in a remarkably detached manner, I find it absurd how both the trucker convoy supporters and the Prime Minister are rallying for people to “unite” and “not be divided.” But the emotional tone with which I’ve heard this sentiment from locals makes me believe that people are not just afraid of being divided by vaccine mandates—that perhaps they are afraid of their place in the community. Of losing friends and family.

What does it mean to be a vocal minority in a life and death situation? People perceive the stakes differently, and thus interpret dissenters differently. There are many “realities,” based on what facts (or hearsay) we choose to include in (and exclude from) our world view.

Many people have recently conjured Bonnie Henry’s words from the beginning of the pandemic: Be Kind. Be Calm. Be Safe.

How does this play out in our small communities during this “divisive” time? I invite you to think about it and consider how vocal minorities are treated in our country in general.