Eclipsing common sense

The leftist perspective on many issues is often one of fear and paranoia. Today it often seems like everyone needs to be protected from everything. Pictured: Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley. Photo Credit: Niagara Region.

Many centuries ago, people were afraid of solar eclipses because they didn’t understand their origins and feared that the sun was gone forever. There were apparently all manner of rituals different cultures used to undertake to encourage the sun to come back. And as far as our ancestors were concerned, they seemed to work, as the sun did indeed return. Despite our modern-day increased knowledge of eclipses, the solar system and other wonders, it seems we have returned to those times. 

The amount of hysteria surrounding this week’s total eclipse of the sun has been mind-boggling. What should be a wonderful, awe-inspiring and celebrated event has for many turned into something to fear and avoid. Many school boards closed schools entirely on eclipse day or dismissed students early so they could get home before the mid-afternoon event took place. This was explained as a means of protecting the students from potential eye damage. Teachers were apparently also concerned about taking on too much responsibility to protect students from any harmful exposure. It used to be that taking on responsibility was all in a day’s work for a teacher, but times have changed. 

There was a day when a rare event such as a total eclipse was treated as a great learning opportunity. This author was fortunate enough to have teachers who wanted to use this occasion in a positive way. I was in primary school at the time of an earlier eclipse, and we learned to make pinhole cameras and the entire school watched the eclipse together. It was a great celebration that I remember to this day. Teachers in those days viewed such events as opportunities to get creative, not as more reasons to be afraid. Sadly, too many children will remember this eclipse as something they were taught to worry about and fear. A number of scientists have commented on what a shame it is that so many schools will be closed and that the fear factor has been greatly overblown. 

Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley decided to declare a state of emergency because of the eclipse, as the area was apparently the best place to view the eclipse in North America and an influx of tourists was expected. A bunch of tourists arriving at a tourist destination was viewed as an emergency? Shocking! Emergencies in various regions are, however, often used to justify demanding more funding from the province, so that could be the underlying agenda. It’s notable that Niagara Falls mayor, Jim Diodati, did not hesitate to emphasize that he was not responsible for declaring the state of emergency and seemed to find it quite absurd that it happened. It’s also worth noting that Jim Bradley was a long time Ontario Liberal MPP, and that those Liberals had a tendency to overreact to many otherwise regular events. 

Indeed, the leftist perspective on many issues is often one of fear and paranoia. Today it often seems like everyone needs to be protected from everything. Weather reports regularly predict drastic storms and recommend people stay at home when what actually happens is moderate. The pandemic was consistently overblown and frightened people unnecessarily. Kids today are swaddled in all manner of protective equipment to participate in sports that are not especially dangerous. For a country that was founded by rugged explorers, we seem to be turning into a nation of wimps. 

A key problem with this philosophy is that we are raising a generation of risk-averse people. If you are dissuaded from taking a minuscule risk with an eclipse, you are surely not going to want to take a leap of faith on starting a business, a new job, or a foray into anything new as you might risk failure. This is a recipe for a bad economy, an unhappy existence and no fun at all. It’s time we all stopped letting the buzz-killers in our midst dictate our choices and those of our children – starting with natural wonders like an eclipse of the sun. 

As for me, I wouldn’t miss an eclipse for the world. I happened to be in a hotel in Ottawa on business this week when it was taking place. After watching the spectacle for a while, I couldn’t resist engaging in some of the old rituals. So I enjoyed an energetic dance around the hotel room, beating on the bottom of the ice bucket chanting “come back sun, come back sun”. Thankfully, it worked.

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