Commentary – Will it be business as usual?

Chris Clegg

Just a few weeks ago many people were up in arms over High Prairie town council wanting to give themselves a raise. Eleven – count ‘em, 11 – attended a meeting to voice their displeasure.

Meanwhile, the coffee shops were abuzz with socialists bashing Premier Jason Kenney and his proposed policies. Indeed, the sky was falling.

At another table, the Conservatives were bashing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for – well – just about anything and everything.

And at another table the Liberals gathered. All one of them! It was a lonely vigil! Just kidding!

We were complaining about the lack of snow removal on rural roads. One wonders how anyone got to town although sales suggest retail leakage was as strong as ever.

And we were all complaining about gas prices. That will never go away!

Just a few weeks ago many of us were worried sick about how the Edmonton Oilers were going to do in the NHL playoffs.

Others were looking forward to the baseball season and seeing how many baseballs Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would smash out of Rogers Centre.

And locally, how would our hockey teams do as playoffs and provincials approached? Funny how there are two teams playing, coaching staffs on each, plus a couple hundred coaches with perfect records in the stands.

Then this COVID-19 thing comes along.

Sort of puts things in perspective, huh!

Even the politicians put differences aside and tried to work together for the common good, by passing measures to help people. It didn’t work every time, but at least there was some co-operation instead of the needless banter back and forth.

It is often said history repeats itself. COVID-19 is here and a reality.

There have been many devastating plagues in history. The Plague of Justinian in 541 claimed 10,000 deaths a day. An estimated 25 million perished by the time it perished 50 years later. In 1347 the Black Death ravaged the planet. It killed 50 million people in Europe alone or half the population of Europe. The living spent most of their days burying the dead. The Italian Plague of 1629-31 killed an estimated 280,000 while in 1665-66 the Great Plague of London wiped out an estimated 100,000. In 1720 the Great Plague of Marseille took another 100,000. And the Third Plague Pandemic in Yunnan Province in China in 1855 claimed 125 million by the 1950s.

From January 1918 to December 1920, the Spanish flu infected 500 million people — about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million.

Flu bugs and plagues are nothing new. I scoff at people in the media who claim we’ve never been here before. Actually, “we” have, if you are referring to the human race, and it was a heck of a lot worse. Perhaps not “we” in the local sense, however.

The first death in northern Alberta was Shawn Auger. He was the husband of our former advertising manager, Jennifer Auger. We grieve not only for them but all victims as we struggle through this horrible time.

But when all this is over, it would be nice if some of the people involved remembered.

It sure puts into perspective our politicians insatiable need for petty politics, or needless financial gain at the expense of others.

Will we learn from all this? Probably not. In a few months, we hope, it will be business as usual.

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