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Ruta Tangiiau Mave: ‘Life goes on, history repeats, some things never change’

Monday 20 September 2021 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Opinion

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Ruta Tangiiau Mave: ‘Life goes on, history repeats, some things never change’
Travelers wearing face masks at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in southern China's Hubei province on January 21. (Picture: AP)/21091902

When people are asked to wear a mask while shopping to reduce the risk of infecting other people with a potentially deadly virus, they complain about having their personal rights and liberties taken away.

Life in paradise is not all sitting on the beach sipping frozen daiquiris, life would be a fine thing if it was. We are very fortunate not to be in lockdown, confined to our homes but that is where the majority of us are, cutting grass and hedges, feeding animals, planting and growing food, or just plain watching the world of entertainment on our screens. The streets are quiet again with no tourists driving on the roads, but they remain lethal to those who continue to speed and drive drunk. People have no work and owners have no income except the Government subsidy, it’s true every event from world wars, the Depression, Covid-19, someone is always making a profit while the majority suffer. Life goes on, history repeats, some things never change.

Recently our government announced a requirement of tourists visiting in the future to be vaccinated – it passed by with little comment. Individual islands like Pukapuka are making a stand for their own people to be vaccinated before returning. Some on the island chose not to vaccinate and that is their right, no harm in it. I didn’t vaccinate my children as babies because I wanted to wait until they were older but I fully understood the value of them. For the Covid vaccine, I just did it. I didn’t read about side effects or alternatives because we had no choice which one, and I figured I was healthier than many who had both jabs with no side effects, I’d take my chances with the vaccine rather than the virus. The decider for me was traveling, to New Zealand and beyond, it looked like the day would come that vaccination will be part of the passport entry process. Watching the world and more countries taking the stand towards this requirement, confirms my prediction, but it’s only a problem for the nonvaccinated if they want to travel. A tourism promotion in New Zealand was held to win a trip to the Cook Islands but only for those who are vaccinated. There were a few protests and calls of bias but these are the new rules of the game now, it’s like the raffles where there is a restriction against staff or family participating, it’s another form of bias, whether you like it or not.  If you don’t like it you don’t have to travel there or buy the raffle ticket.

The world we live in is full of restrictions we have to abide by regardless of our individual preferences. The fact we all wear helmets now, which many were against but do so begrudgingly or face the fines. If we break rules even when no one is hurt and no damage is done, we have to suffer the consequences if caught.  People argue the pressure to vaccinate, this is nothing new, since the control of child hood diseases like measles, mumps, polio and tuberculosis through vaccines, schools as early as the 1960s have made it mandatory for registration, I certainly met a few with my children. The reality is we’re constantly being told what to do and how to behave, from shops who have signs like no shoes, no shirt no service; traffic laws drive under alcohol limit or get a ticket; work safety to enter wear safety goggles, hard hat, hi viz; planes you must be seated with your belt on, tray table up and mobile phones off; school boy’s hair must be short, girl’s skirts must be long, etc. But when people are asked to wear a mask while shopping to reduce the risk of infecting other people with a potentially deadly virus, they complain about having their personal rights and liberties taken away. The majority obey, and there are always those who will defy the law regardless, the difference is now their actions or lack thereof can affect others rather than themselves. Afterall, surgeons have been wearing masks for decades not because they are afraid of catching a broken leg or bowel cancer from their patient, it’s to protect the patient from infection from the medical team breathing over them.  As a consumer you have a choice of where you go to spend your money and if you don’t want to wear a mask you can shop elsewhere or you can shop online, there are alternative options.

Every year it’s estimated 650,000 die from seasonal influenza. Every year people choose not to get a flu shot, and live.  No doubt the world will see the same with Covid-19 remaining amongst us with the future offering annual vaccines for those who feel vulnerable and can afford to pay. Knowing the simple actions of washing hands, not coughing and sneezing unguarded around people and wearing a mask can protect yourself and others seems a small price of action to bear.