To The Editor,

The past week has seen quite the performance in Ottawa, with the “freedom convoy” camping out and a fair few other people turning up to let the world (or at least anyone who lives or works in Ottawa) know that they are cross.

Or something like that.

It would appear that it has also been a difficult week for the fourth (and probably fifth) estate, for which I am truly sorry. Just like health care workers, journalists shouldn’t be insulted and threatened for doing a job that serves others.

The word “freedom” has been tossed about like lettuce in a salad and the Canadian flag has been used first as a cloak for “look, we are patriots” and then as some form of symbol of “but we don’t like Canada” since it was flown upside down and in the proximity of the odd Nazi symbolism. Oh, and draped over the shoulders of Terry Fox who, if you don’t know anything about him, was nothing less than extraordinary and who, since the people there obviously didn’t know much about him, would not have recognized the selfishness that was on display.

The fact that people decided that a desecration of the memory of those who had fought so hard and lost so much for the freedoms these people claim they are owed is, to put too fine a word on it, offensive and wrong as well as selfish.

Let’s unpack that word a second, shall we: self-ish-ness – basically, thinking that the self is the most important thing in the entire world and nobody had better try to show the self otherwise. It’s generally how toddlers feel when they are trying to find their place in the world but it’s usually something that we grow out of, or at least learn to moderate, as we age a bit.

Your editorial of February 2nd only begins to scratch the surface of the wrongness that this attempted insurrection/occupation (let’s call it what it is, shall we? It’s nice not to have to argue about words, but when people start to demand words that they clearly don’t deserve, it behooves us to point this out). Not least, you neglected to mention that a lot of the money coming into GoFundMe was from “patriots” in the US. When your cause gets supported by the orange insurrectionist, you know there are issues (I hesitate to even mention the Tesla Tantrum Artist since I’m liable to end up being accused of something nasty by that particular person).

The freedoms these people are demanding, with menace, include the removal of duly elected representatives. They include the ability to terrorize other people with horns blasting all night, insults thrown at anyone who would dare to disagree with them (or, horror! wear a mask!). They include the ability to do whatever they please, wherever they please, to whomever they please.

At what point is this right? Any of it?

This is not protest. It’s not even resistance. I’ve been to protests, many times in my adult life (note that I said “adult” and think about what some people are making their children say and do in the name of their “freedom”). This is not a protest. I protested against the war in Iraq before some of these people learned how to spell the word. I protested for the miners in the UK. I protested for Mandela. If you are not sure what this means, it means that I protested for those who don’t have a voice. That’s the point. That’s freedom.

The only good thing that has come out of it is the ability to see who supports this terrorization of others.

Before anyone starts to argue that these insurrectionists are protesting to win my right to choose, may I point out that I already chose? I chose to honour those who work unstintingly to save the lives of others, even those others who the day before may have been in front of hospitals throwing spite and vitriol at them as they went to work. I chose to honour and respect the right of other people to be able to live. I chose the country I wanted to live in. I chose the flag that is being abused. More to the point, I’m not the only one.

If I sound angry it is because I am. It is because freedom isn’t free. It certainly isn’t a free-for-all. Freedom is about accepting responsibilities: for others, not just yourselves. It is about teaching our children what it means to respect other people even if you don’t agree with them, and it certainly isn’t about making your children hold up offensive slogans.

Freedom means nothing less than sacrificing your egotism for the sake of others, so that everyone wins.

If it is so hard to be able to accept certain standards of behaviour in the hope of helping others, may I respectfully suggest that those involved leave, whilst not letting the door hit them on the way out?

We either deal with this, and call it what it is, or we end up in a situation, to quote Hobbes, where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

I utterly reject that notion.

Dr Stephen Marsh, Dalkeith