Trying to make sense of the worrisome new world

It happened so fast. On March 5, Alberta saw its first COVID-19 case. On March 13, we were being asked to stay at home if we could, cancel events of more than 250 people, and to self-isolate if we showed signs of the disease, or if we had been travelling. The price of oil and the stock market plummeted. Now, people are worried about their jobs, their kids. Sports teams have cancelled games. Schools have closed. The libraries closed, along with rec centres—most public places, actually. Everything is terrible.

And it’s spring. We’ve been waiting for long, warm days. The seeds I started indoors are sending out their first delicate leaves. The garden should be ready to plant in a few more weeks. But with everything that’s happening, it doesn’t seem real. I don’t even know what to think or feel. Should I be scared, or annoyed? 

Hours after the first announcements, though, I saw Facebook groups spring up that connected those who are able to help with people in need: people offering rides, dropping off groceries or other supplies, sharing (real and reliable!) information, advice, and mental health support. People shared what stores still stocked toilet paper (what was that about, huh?), infant formula, and hand sanitizer. People started to share resources for kids, online courses, or tutoring. People alert others of scams and false information. People try to take care of each other. More people are asking for help.

If anything, we’re going to become very aware that nothing happens without people. Everything from hospitals, schools, utilities, supply chains—the entire economy, basically—relies on people being there to make things go. If people aren’t well, we don’t get those things. All of our needs are fulfilled by other people. This is what we are as human beings: we need each other.

I wrote this piece in mid-March, so things may have changed by the time the paper is printed. Things do seem to be moving fast, and we’re asked to respond hour by hour. But we all have to think about what will happen when we’re able to get back to normal life. People are saying, “everything will be OK,” but that depends entirely on our actions. Only we can make it OK. I don’t know what will happen in the coming weeks and months. Spring is a time of renewal and fresh starts. Could we use this as an opportunity to change the way we live? Could we try to hang on to that generosity after the crisis is over? Can we destigmatize asking for help? The writer, Naomi Klein, wrote about social disruption as a way to distract people from the questionable actions of government. We could use this moment to establish better habits and to examine what is most important to us. We can prioritize our relationships with people. Nothing else is real.

Featured Image: The coming months may be a time of uncertainty. | Pixabay