Living in the gap

We’re in the middle of a pandemic. That’s not really news, but the various things happening around this event are getting more troubling for me every day. Our city government has decreed that face coverings will be mandatory as of August 1, at the same time that our Provincial government has decided to move ahead with schools re-opening in September without any real extra protection (or funds) for students and staff.

If people are confused and trouble, there’s good reason. Our leaders at various levels are starting to work against each other, in contrast to the early days (March and April) when everyone seemed to be on the same page. People are getting tired of the restrictions, even as most are starting accept them as the “new normal.”

Not an easy time to live in, to be sure. And it’s made even harder by the number of people at every level of society who are pushing back against the science. I’ve heard of people denying that there is a pandemic at all. At the other extreme, I’ve heard people who say that the doctors and scientists are covering up the real seriousness of the situation.

We are living in a peculiar kind of gap. The virus has changed many of our normal behaviors, perhaps permanently. Whatever happens, I think it’s fair to say that nothing will ever be quite the same after this is over. Will it ever be over? Will we be living with this virus for the foreseeable future? If an effective vaccine and/or a cure can’t be found, can we ever feel safe again?

So here we are, more than four months into the declaration of the pandemic, and we have few workable answers. It seems to me that we need to try to trust the people who are working in this area day by day, allowing them the space to exercise their expertise.

One of the things that really troubles me is the self-centred attitude many people are taking to simple precautions like wearing face-covering. It may be your right to risk getting a disease, but is it your right to put other people at risk?

Every right we might claim brings with it an attendant responsibility. Free speech? By all means, speak your mind, but please be aware that your speech may needlessly hurt someone else. Free assembly? Get together as you wish, but not at the expense of other people’s freedom and safety. Freedom of religion? I’m all for that — I don’t want anyone dictating my faith life. But that means that you have to respect other people’s religious freedom.

I will wear a mask in public places in my city. I will worship according to the church and health authority’s dictates. I will keep my distance from other people as much as possible. I will sanitize as possible.

And I will continue to hope and pray that the end of this “gap” in our corporate life will not be disaster, but rather a new and kinder way of living.

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robinw48

Retired priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, living in Edmonton AB, and serving as an Honorary Assistant at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Old Strathcona.

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