Canadians are a resilient bunch, often facing harsh weather with a grin on our faces. While this is undoubtedly not unique to Canada, there have been so many examples of courage and kindness throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic. This proves that the pandemic has not only been a time of tragedy, but also of bravery, heroism, and common decency. Crises often bring out the worst in our society, but also just as frequently, we see our very best during such challenges. Our healthcare workers, grocery store cashiers, and other frontline workers have worked relentlessly to help their neighbors during these stressful and scary times. People from all walks of life have contributed to the effort to stop the virus and protect the people in their communities, and we should all be grateful to each other for banding together to overcome this global catastrophe. Though there have been exceptions, there is a lot to be proud of when we look at the people around us, and we should give each other a physically distanced pat on the back for the hard work and determination that so many of us have shown.
Of course, being self-congratulatory is not always the wisest decision, but there is something to be said for celebrating the positives amidst all the anxiety and grief. Over the last year and a half, we have seen the full range of humanity, from the greatest selfishness to the most extraordinary acts of sacrifice. Even beyond the extremes, we can see in the quiet actions of people within our society the seeds of a better world, as even simple acts of kindness have shone through and made things a little bit easier for everyone. Supporting each other in some ways has never been more difficult, as we have been frequently forced to remain physically separate from not only strangers, but even family and friends. Yet many people have found ways to overcome these distances, and that has brought us closer together in ways we might not have previously imagined.
According to clinical social worker Amy Morin, there are many ways to help others during the pandemic. We can make containing the virus easier simply by limiting our trips to public places and following mask rules and other guidelines. Morin suggests that if you are stuck inside, you can “go through your household goods, and see if any of these are available to be donated to people in need.” Thus, even being homebound allows us to find ways to reach out, and many people across Canada are heeding this call to contribute funds and goods to charitable causes. Beyond the giving of physical gifts, we can also give people our time and attention. A phone call, Zoom chat, or letter in the mail to our neighbors, friends, family members, and other loved ones can show them that we care and are thinking of them during these trying times.
This is especially true for helping seniors, who may be feeling fearful during a virus that has often cut them off from family supports, rendered them increasingly vulnerable, and directly harmed them at higher rates than any other segment of society. According to a Global News report, loneliness levels have been rising, leading to higher rates of health issues and even death, especially in people 65 and over. “The fear around seniors’ greater susceptibility to the virus and its severe outcomes can result in isolation,” the report suggests, and ageism has been a factor as seniors are not always given the support they need. Fortunately, there have been numerous charitable groups and efforts by individuals to distribute food, books, and other supplies to vulnerable seniors and connect them with friends through technological assistance.
Beyond these personal methods of helping out, Canadian society on a greater level has responded. According to an Ontario news release, “communities across Canada are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and need immediate assistance to ensure their public infrastructure is safe and reliable.” Because of public pressure, officials have at least partially responded with assistance for schools, community centers, and other vital institutions. While we may be skeptical about the government’s actions as they have also made mistakes and need to do much more, we can also be proud of the public advocacy across our society that has led to funding for online learning, tutoring programs, financial assistance for struggling families, support for non-profits, and more. Powerful politicians rarely do what is needed without pressure from citizens, so even small successes on the provincial and federal levels are reason to celebrate and keep pushing even harder for more action.
Ultimately, the pandemic has affected us all, and people across our society are rising to the occasion. While many have failed to join in these efforts, and our officials are often deserving of criticism for what they have or haven’t done, there are reasons for optimism and a renewed sense of resilience in the face of this international challenge. From the smallest levels of our society to the most significant places of power, there have been ongoing efforts to protect our communities and to make improvements. On the other hand, there is plenty of work to be done, and the insufficiencies of our economic and political systems require innovative thinking and community spirit so we can rise again, as always, to the struggles in front of us. Thankfully, we can see the signs of the future world we want to make right here in the present efforts of the people around us. By using the kindness, compassion, and determination that is already available, we can build something better than we ever had before.