By Letter to the Editor on April 29, 2020.
The vibrancy and energy in our community is gone. There are still dog-walkers, single-line joggers, trucks commuting to workplaces and people in cars, soberly running errands, but there are no children playing, no teenagers laughing as they stroll by, no neighbours standing together chatting, and no hustle and bustle.
Inside stores, smiling faces are hard to find. Everyone is there to get the job done. Shoppers seem suspicious of what the other might accidentally pass on and many employees clearly wish you hadn’t shown up. There are signs hanging everywhere reminding us that friendliness is no longer welcome and certain purchases are no longer necessary.
What has happened to us? Vulnerable people are being put in solitary confinement with the intention of keeping them safe. Jobs and businesses have been snuffed out with an uncertain promise that they will return. Support systems of friends and family, even professionals, are tucked behind a screen. Volunteers are told to stay home. Charities are stripped of their fundraisers. Crime fighters are now social enforcers
While we are protecting our society from this new enemy we seem to ignore the monster it is spawning: The fallout of social isolation. These are such things as danger in homes where the domestic situations were already volatile; the consequences of other illnesses and conditions that are currently being ignored; long-term economic repercussions to families, businesses and charities; new laws are being made and enacted without discussion; dirt-poor societies that had relied on tourism to survive; and aid that cannot get through to needy countries and villages.
How many lives will that looming monster damage or destroy? We had better pay attention to it and prepare our defence. To start off, we can all go back to smiling. We can have our (clean) hands ready to do what we can – and find out what that might be. We can share. We can reach out in whatever ways are still possible.
For those of us who still have a steady income, we can be thankful and know that much will be required of us in our communities, our country, and around the globe, beginning already today. We can stop thinking that the deficit budgets of first-world countries will fix everything when this is over.
Let’s get back to ordinary teamwork – even if we are several feet apart.