Canadians Are Well-equipped to Make the Changes We Need After COVID-19
Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner April 23, 2020
Painted stones thank health-care workers for their support outside Peterborough Regional Health Centre during the COVID-19 virus April 2020, Peterborough, ON. CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/EXAMINER
Canadians, for many reasons, have an outward-looking attitude toward the world. Immigration, wide travel, education and a certain humility as citizens of a medium- sized power, prepare us for significant understanding of the world.
Recent research shows that we support the United Nations, especially the World Health Organization, (take that, Donald Trump), and we seek unapologetically to co-operate with other countries. This Canadian view has become even more popular in the COVID-19 crisis. We accept that it is a pandemic jumping borders, and will finally be defeated with a vaccine. Most of us don't demonize China. (I just learned a new word: "Sinophobia," or irrational hatred of China).
Paradoxically, that reasonable, rational and open attitude renders us even more effective at working locally. The global mind and the local application of it is our strength.
Healthwise in Peterborough region, our case number is low. There is grief for the family of our one victim and there will be extra attention to seniors' homes. In the new age: complete redesign of those buildings, some built in the 1950s, and for a long time underfunded, will be paramount.
The extent of volunteering is astounding. I myself have to field at least three calls a day from acquaintances who have listened to the advice to "check in on their seniors." Meals on Wheels continues, businesses have made a quick pivot and now manufacture personal protection gear; the United Way announces a new fund for COVID-19 relief, the PRHC is prepared for a surge in cases should it come, the media give us hard numbers and also heart-wrenching stories of bravery; Facebook is full of encouraging poems, pictures, bird calls, and recipes.
Worship services, including the Abraham Festival April 18 go online; seniors learn programs to link them with loved ones; and every time I hear the bouncing of a basketball, on either side of my place, my heart soars. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and I have a date on CBC TV each morning at 11:15 on his lawn.
As for at-home teaching and learning, I have yet to hear one person, young or old say that it is easy for either side. That's for me "existential courage," shown by teachers and learners.
Now as the greatest health crisis in this century passes over us, some voices, are undertaking to imagine a possible new world. Some are worth listening to, though not "the wrath of God, repent of your sins" ones.
It will be about the global survival of planet earth.
Looking back, it would be understandable should such thinkers as Naomi Klein, Katherine Hayhoe, David Suzuki, Andrew Weaver and Elizabeth May (there's five Canadians), plus international visionaries such as Vandana Shiva (India), Wangaari Mathai (Kenya), George Monbiot (U.K.),Greta Thunberg (Sweden) and Bill McKibben or Thomas Berry (USA), not to mention local heroes such as Al Slavin, Carlotta James, Kate Grierson, Cam Douglas, Shirley Williams and Drew Monkman, stand up and say "We told you so."
But they won't do that. April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It was in 1970 that the world began to listen to voices of concern about pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, earth-warming emissions and plastic in oceans, floods, fires and hurricanes.
The earth has been crying out for some years, but humans haven't been listening. Now we are inundated with news of the fates and the suffering of people all over the world.
This re-envisioning, in which we can all play a part, is an exercise in a kind of prophesy, a sharp, fact-based critique of the present and the presentation of an alternative future. The guides are out there. The minds of people are in movement. Damage from this illness are seen and felt everywhere. It is a virus, starting in Asia, jumping to Europe and North America and now, fearfully, to the Southern hemisphere.
It doesn't respect wealth or class, education or location. That makes serious motivation to change.