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Reflections on a new normal

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

There are many of us who hope we can go back to what was once considered “normal.” But, instead of going back to our old ways of living, I’m hoping we might go forward to a new way of living and appreciating.

As a friend, Paul Hansen, mentioned, “We have relied too much on things that simply do not matter. We so often live spending tons of time managing distractions.”

I’m wondering about how much do we miss watching the Blue Jays or other sports teams? In the grand scheme of things was it just a distraction from other things? Personally I love to see people play sports, but to have a team of very highly paid athletes, none of which are from Toronto, play for a team called Toronto, just really doesn’t make sense.

My son Brendan is concerned that when people see only the bad in the COVID-19 pandemic, they may suffer depression and anxiety because everything seems so bleak. He suggests that people should keep asking, “What’s good about this?” Perhaps we should all make a list. This is a relatively mild pandemic in the history of mankind. We are not bleeding from our eyes or turning blue. In our privileged society, we have so many advantages that people in places like Zimbabwe don’t. Not to downgrade the severity of COVID-19, but if we keep looking at our personal list of what’s good about this, then eventually a better reality may appear. Wilfully keep looking at what’s good about this in every situation.

Some of us older folks recall when the Sabbath was sacred and in our area, nothing was opened on Sundays. Whether we liked it or not, it gave us a day of rest and rejuvenation. It has been suggested that with COVID-19 the earth is getting it’s Sabbath and a chance to rejuvenate.

I recently read this story about a young woman who was fed up with all the restrictions because of COVID. She then met an elderly gentleman who talked about living through polio, diphtheria, Vietnam, protests and yet was still enchanted with life. He seemed surprised when the young lady said that 2020 must be especially challenging for him. “No,” he said. “I learned a long time ago to not see the world through the news headlines. I see the world through the people who surround me. Therefore I just choose to write my own headline news.”

“Husband loves wife today.”

“Family drops everything to come to grandma’s bedside.”

“Old man makes new friend,” he said as he patted the young girl’s hand.

His words collided with the young girl’s worries. She was left with a renewed spirit. Her headline now reads, “Woman overwhelmed by the spirit of kindness and the reminder of our capacity to love, which is never ending.”

I worry about some of our neighbours, especially in the United States, who seem to have come to the conclusion that the battle against this pandemic has been won. Why then are people still working on the frontlines putting their health and life at risk and providing essential services to both those who are sick and those who are well?

Right now there have been more than nine million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Almost half a million have died. There may be many millions more before the pandemic ends.

But to put things into perspective, each year 5.3 million children under the age of five die due to mainly preventable causes like malnutrition and water borne diseases.

Another 4.3 million will die annually due to air pollution. With factories closing and fewer people travelling, that number hopefully should decrease this year.

It continues to amaze me at how much investment our governments are putting into saving lives from COVID-19 this year, and rightfully so. But once the pandemic ends, what investment will we be considering to help those that die from the aforementioned issues? Hopefully addressing the issues of child mortality, food security, clean water, pollution and health care will rise to the forefront.

I’m at hoping we don’t go back to the old “normal,” but create a new, better normal.