By Sue Tiffin
We joke that it’s March again, but feels like it’s still March, acting as though the point last year when much of the world acknowledged the need for an abrupt pivot in an effort for the human population to contain and counteract the spread of COVID-19, made us simply pause mid-step.
While we speak so much to what we’ve lost in that time, we’ve gained so much, too. For some it has come in increased time for simple pleasures – moments spent with family with fewer distractions, the perfection of a sourdough recipe, reacquainting with past hobbies and interests and some really good reads, a home renovation or quality time finding the perfect spot on the couch with the perfect sitcom (it’s Schitt’s Creek, of course).
For many, what we’ve gained has been through discomfort as we’ve learned more about fairness and equity – or lack thereof – in society; the weaknesses in how we protect and respect our vulnerable and elderly; a better understanding of systemic racism and our role in perpetuating it; how our friends and family and neighbours might be disproportionately affected by challenges due to lower income; and about ourselves and what we care about and who we are and can be when we are forced – by being unable to fill our schedule with other tasks – to reflect on ourselves.
There has been challenging discourse and much hostility about, well, anything and everything when we’ve forgotten to listen first to each other and understand where we each as individuals are coming from, and that has been painful.
But we’ve also by this point learned that throughout this past year when we gave up anything, it was to help others – whether that be those with more vulnerable living conditions, those working on the frontlines as healthcare workers, teachers and retail clerks and those who are immunocompromised and had already learned the importance of precarious health.
We worry about our children and how this time will affect them, but we can be proud of what a generation has learned from the most thoughtful actions and voices – that will see that when we paused, when we adapted our behaviour and practices, when we spoke up, when we worked to understand change, that we shared in some way in collective sacrifice to prioritize each other and the greater public good.
As we all continue to live in a time that will bring challenges that include the further effects of climate change and the need to rethink, rebuild, and respond to protect rather than neglect, we have gained better understanding that doing things differently for each other is the best way forward.