COVID-19 prompts a lot of feelings to circulate within our minds; anger, fear, and frustration, to name but a few. All of these came to bear with the recent passing of a COVID-19 denier. All of these feelings are understandable, perhaps even justified to some degree.
Anger that he potentially infected others. Fear that others will follow his lead by refusing to physical distance from others. Frustration that his death could have been avoided. They have led some people to say and do things that are regrettable. While it’s important to understand our own feelings and how or where they arise, it’s equally important to channel them through positive means. Through what perspective are people acting on these thoughts and feelings?
A lot of things have been said of the gentlemen who passed away. That he deserved it. That others like him should suffer the same fate. This helps exactly no one. All it does is feed the virus of division and hate. It separates lives and devalues life. All life is important. All death is a loss.
If we look through the perspective of compassion and empathy we realize there is a hurting widow who suffered the loss of a spouse. Friends and family who suffered the untimely passing of a family member or friend. How does attacking her save others, exactly? Do we not think she has a ton of regret upon her shoulders? That she will have guilt weighing on her for the rest of her life? That she will in turn work, in her own way, to help flatten the curve?
I am not perfect. My anxiety over COVID-19 has led me to be short with my family when they ask if I washed my hands for the sixth time. It led me to become frustrated with the cashier at the grocery store who, when I merely leaned forward to count if I had 20 items or fewer and wasn’t actually moving forward, yelled so everyone within the store, and perhaps a few walking down the street outside, could hear the new battlecry “Stay back sir! Social Distancing PLEASE.”
To say I was annoyed at being accused of jeopardizing someone’s life so frivolously when I knew I hadn’t, is an understatement. I could feel my face turning red and my core body temperature rise as if I’d just finished a marathon in a sauna. I bet my butt blushed because I was so embarrassed. I wanted to lash out, to defend my wounded honour.
At any rate, when I realized the cashier probably dealt with a lot of people that day, some likely quite belligerent, I stepped off the ledge of righteous indignation and sauntered back inside the room of understanding. She has anxieties and fears too. She has frustrations and anger as well.
I attempted a smile. Though my face muscles did not fully co-operate with my brain’s orders, which resulted in a weird tug of war that made my cheeks twitch. I probably looked like I was losing a battle with an involuntary bowel movement. I, nevertheless, kept my voice light and cheery. At the end I thanked her, not for making me feel like a villain in my own life, but for doing her job.
My family is not perfect, either by the way. We, each of us, have accused every other member of chewing with their mouth open, whether that person was actually eating or not. Is this how the madness begins?
If one thing is clear to me it’s that we rely on and are connected to more people than we ever thought. We rely on and are connected to more people we’ll never meet than we can possibly fathom. We relied on each other during the great depression and came through it. We relied on each other during WWII and came through it. We’ll get through this, too; together. It would be a lot easier though, if we all remember to be patient and kind.