Everyone agrees that life in 2020 is a big blur. Last week was long. Monday dragged into Tuesday and the rest of the days slid into each other like thick gooey gravy. There was much of the same when it came to news about the Covid-19 pandemic except that certain cities and regions were heading into lockdown again with the number of infected cases increasing rapidly. Nationwide, red zones were popping up like mushrooms and provincial leaders were caught in the middle of the tug of war between small business owners, certain to lose everything with another lockdown and the medical professionals calling for immediate action in order to save lives and to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system.
This is pandemic news. This is pandemic life. The world is being attacked by an enemy it cannot see, only feel. It is the one thing we all have in common right now, no matter what square footage of the planet we occupy, and it is showing us who we are.
This pandemic has shown the good, the bad and the ugly sides of human beings. There is a lot of good. People who are putting their safety and health on the line to care for the sick and most fragile hold a special place in my heart. I am proud of others not on the front line, who find ways to support local small business who supply the goods we all need while we hunker down at home. I respect those who have made the decision to go out only when necessary and the people who wear masks without fail or complaint. I admire those who respect the arrows on the floor of the grocery aisles that allow for less crowding and contact while shopping, and the people who sanitize their hands and shopping carts prior and after use. They are all a part of a greater good. These people are the ones who do the small unselfish things to keep the most vulnerable of the species safe. It’s the least anyone can do yet somehow, many people can’t and, in some cases, won’t.
I understand that Covid-fatigue is a thing.
It is essentially cabin fever and yes, we are all a little tired of staying home. As a mother of sons who were hoping to launch their adult lives this year, I know how frustrating it can be to have your young life on hold. It is also hard for the elderly, many of whom have been cut off from friends and family and much enjoyed activities because of Covid-19. It is more tragic to hear that those who have died of Covid-19, have died alone. The novelty of staying home has worn off. No one is looking for their fifteen minutes of pandemic-on line fame anymore. The live-streaming of varying abilities of musical talent and the endless walking in support of this or that during the pandemic, is over. The endless posts of sourdough bread creations are no longer interesting. It’s over. It’s over because we all want this pandemic to be over. But breaking up with Covid-19 isn’t easy. It wears you down. And when you’re weary from the state of your life, you might stop caring and choose to live dangerously. In our small city, our numbers are extremely low and convincing people that remaining at home will keep them that way is getting harder for our municipal government. Young people are having bonfires and parties in remote areas
and older people are tired of being told what to do to stay safe. In the summer many of them (sans masks and distancing) could be seen gathering at outdoor events they were accustomed to attending before the pandemic. But is getting tired of our situation a good reason to be reckless? I am starting to question if there are indeed more good people on this planet who abide by the rules. Are there instead more selfish people in the world? Is it ignorance or arrogance that is driving this selfish, uncaring attitude about going against the pandemic protocol?
I look at the news and see the rising numbers and I am beginning to think that there is less good in the world than bad and I find myself examining people’s behavior and I’m disappointed by what I have come to realize. I also wonder if Covid-19 was not a respiratory virus but one that presented with vomiting and diarrhoea or worse, if it was similar to Ebola, would people stay home, stay distant and wear masks without issue? I feel that too many people perceive Covid-19 as a bad cold or just a threat to the elderly and no matter how many stories you hear about the virus also killing younger people, there are still so many who have decided to shun pandemic protocol. And while those who choose to “take their chances” and venture out to weddings and parties and social gatherings, doctors and nurses are reduced to tears every time they pronounce a covid patient’s death.
I believe we have evolved rapidly as a species. Too rapidly. With convenience comes laziness and selfishness. Many of us rarely sacrifice anything to get what we want. We point, click and it appears at our doorstep. We have all seen progress change our behavior and no one can deny we live in a world society where bigger, faster, stronger, easier, and better have created the desire for more in all of us. It is reflected in what we buy, what we needlessly accumulate and what we waste. There is an attitude of “someone else will do it”, “it’s not my problem” and live in a bubble where tragic things happen to “other people”. Everyone is out to make a fast buck, and it does not matter who or what we inadvertently step on to get what we want. Humans seek the most attention from each other all day, every day. With the existence of social media platforms and new ones popping up everyday, our species has managed to turn something that is great for connecting us with each other into a way of hurting each other and ourselves. So, instead of occasionally connecting with each other, we are on every day, sometimes chatting, sometimes judging what someone has posted, sometimes downright spewing hate and cyberbullying each other. We are on our phones so much, there is a muscular-skeletal condition called Postural Kyphosis, which is basically a hunch due to our neck and upper back posture when we are on our phones.
Just think what humans are going to evolve into to adapt to our lifestyle. I wonder if C-section numbers might increase as women’s bodies are unble to adapt to allow for the safe entry of our future little hunched-back babies.
It’s not only our abuse of social media that is to blame. Social media is just one example that illustrates the degeneration of our species’ character. Long before cyber connectivity, we were crushing each other and the planet to get what we want. We’ve taken land from indigenous peoples and suppressed them for generations. We’ve turned a blind eye to the poisoned water and deplorable living conditions we would not accept, but they have had to endure for years.
We’ve torn down forests, polluted the ocean, and expanded our habitat by infiltrating and displacing animals from theirs. We plough over wildlife daily
with our cars and have over fished and hunted animals to the point of near extinction. Child labour, cheap labour, longer hours of labour, deplorable labour conditions — we step on those less fortunate by paying them very little so we can get a lot. Our factories have puffed noxious gas into the air we
breathe and because money speaks the language of politics and economic success for a select, powerful few, we still drive cars that rely on gasoline. What we have lost along the way is respect and honour for ourselves and others. And we are all guilty. Think of a time when you failed to return a grocery cart to the collection rack. Regardless of the signs pleading for customer compliance, did you leave it on the curb, or in the parking space beside yours? Were you careless because it was it too cold, too hot, or too far for you to walk the cart back to the designated area? Was it because despite the weather, it’s the cart person’s job to gather the carts wherever people have left them? This is an example of our laziness and entitlement. I was raised to respect and follow rules and to return what I’ve borrowed in a timely manner. I was taught that in order for a business to keep their costs and the cost to their customers down, they relied on us to do simple things like, return the cart to it’s station in the parking lot. Now, we pay anywhere from a quarter to a dollar to use carts as incentive for us to return them so we can get our coin refunded, yet, if you walk along the river, you can see at least three stolen and abandoned grocery carts rusting in the water. When I’ve slipped up or dabbled with the idea of being lazy or selfish, I always came back to how my parents raised me, especially if I was in the presence of my young children. When you have children you have to present the best of yourself and teach by example. If everyone checks themselves and stop doing little selfish things every day so much will change for the better in the world.
The Covid -19 pandemic shows how little human beings care for each other and the planet. The pandemic is telling us we have taken too much for granted. When there is a sale, or in keeping with the times, the threat of a lockdown, we hoard. We always want the most for ourselves which is not necessarily the best for ourselves. When we are uncomfortable, we complain that rules about mask wearing, physically distancing, and queuing for goods infringe upon our rights and freedom. What right? The right to be ignorant
and selfish and get others sick? What freedom? The freedom to spread this virus just so we can be with our friends? I feel we crumble easily in times of struggle. We flounder without our conveniences. I look at our forefathers who lived through war, financial depression, and widespread pandemic but they put their heads down and did what they had to do to get through the tough times. There was a sense of duty and responsibility that they had that I have trouble seeing when I look around today. I think they had a greater sense of honour and respect than we do and much of what we have today is due to the sacrifices they made for us way before many of us were born. They made do with what they had and were very careful to not be wasteful. They were more polite, mannerly and generous than we are and while they did have their flaws, if we could adopt some of their qualities, we might learn how step out of our singular little worlds for a moment to look around and see what we can do to make another’s life better. We have a chance at making our planet a better place for everyone and everything on it. A few years ago, I decided to change the way I do things in my life. I challenged myself to pick one thing and do it differently and do it better. Whether it was choosing more sustainable products, donating more regularly to the food bank, donating gently used clothing instead of selling them — there was always something I could do better to make myself less of a problem and a part of the solution. I challenge you to do the same. It’s not difficult and it wells up feelings inside of you that you didn’t know you could experience. Tomorrow is Monday. Monday is a day when we put plans into action. So…Watch the news tonight and decide to use your power to make a difference, starting tomorrow. Decide to change so collectively we can help each other cope. Decide to be kind and lift others not push them down. Decide to speak out against corruption and the catering of politicians to the select, wealthy few. Decide to fix what is wrong on the planet so that it can sustain life. Decide to do more than wave a hand, shrug, or utter a prayer. We must DO. And it is so easy to DO. Easier than NOT doing. DOING is fun and heart warming and it makes you feel good about yourself in a way social media cannot. Respect others and think beyond yourself and raise your children to do the same. Keep the golden rule in mind every day because we are not alone. We share our homes, our communities, our countries, our planet. We share it. Act like we share it. Decide to not always be first. Accept to not always be right. Understand that no person is more important than another. We all share hard times. This pandemic is a hard time for everyone. Follow the protocol so we don’t make it harder for others who are more vulnerable to this disease than we are. Learn to cope and help other’s cope. Your phone can be used for more than just shopping or taking a selfie or posting a video that starts off with you saying, as usual, “So guys… um… I just wanted to share this crazy, amazing thing I found about with you ….” Use your phone to check in with a friend or loved one. Have a text chat or a verbal conversation. Don’t just talk, LISTEN. Let’s be MORE than what we have become. We can be MORE. We ARE more. Let’s all be better HUMANS, because every one of us absolutely can be.