Recognition, reaching out, and understanding, it’s what’s happening these days. An overly optimistic statement? There is no doubt we are surrounded by worries, uncertain times, and loss. The world has paused, and in troubling times, people think, contemplate and problem solve; ways in which to negotiate our rapidly changing world. Suddenly contact becomes paramount, brings us back years. We look beyond social media and disconnect and look forward to phone calls, video calls, and communication. In a time of isolation, we come out of our shells. We talk to our neighbours. We check in with loved ones in any way that we can. We look to the people we know for answers rather than google. Amidst the chaos there is progress and positivity.
A mother or father, suddenly without work, reaches out to their stay at home friends for advice and support. Suddenly we understand the challenges of parenting and home life as we recognise those who do it day in and day out. We reach out to stay at home parents, and home-schooling families for advise and support. Teachers reach out and adapt to remote learning, and we can’t contemplate how a teacher manages a full classroom of children. Parents communicate with teachers more than ever, and appreciate them in a new light.
We shop for food, and we see tired faces two meters behind check out counters and plastic shields. Behind them are managers, food distribution workers and drivers, food production, packaging services, and farmers. They work more hours than ever as their customers stay at home. We need them and appreciate them more than ever.
Our hospital’s doctors, nurses, health care support staff, cleaners, and food providers work around the clock. Home health care, mental health workers, ambulance drivers, nursing home staff, paramedics. Suddenly the government highlights their importance. The construction workers needed to open hospital wings, and temporary facilities for covid-19 facilities, suddenly gain recognition. Government officials from the Taoiseach to our Councillors, working under immense pressure and spending long days problem solving, decision making, and answering questions. Postal workers keep us connected to a closed world. We need you all, and many more I haven’t listed.
A woman living with cystic fibrosis shares her techniques for avoiding infections in public spaces since birth. We stop and recognise; her lifetime protecting herself from viruses and we’ve struggled for mere months. We consider her more than ever, and how we can make her life easier in the future. Now we have a deepened understand of how staying home when we are sick and practicing proper hand washing saves lives.
Factory workers work in altered work spaces. They worry about getting sick, but return to work to create medical devices or other essential products each day. Without them a heart surgery would be delayed or cancelled. We start to think about where products come from and are thankful for those who make them.
Food service providers and hospitality staff are called back to work and accept risk as they make contact with thousands daily. Tired essential workers drive through and appreciate their take away more than ever, before returning home to fall into bed. We’ve learned to cook and enjoy food more at home, but recognise a quick hot meal has huge importance to so many working around the clock to save lives in so many ways. We are thankful for the long hours hospitality staff are working to keep people fed and working.
Guards, police, even military are seen more than ever. They spend long hours ensuring society does their best to protect one another. Gardai stand at checkpoints instructing many to return home and calmly explain restrictions. Many take abuse. They face thousands of people daily in a time where we are asked to isolate. We realise without them perhaps all the measures of so many to contain this virus would be for nothing.
The over 70’s, many strong and healthy stay at home. Others with underlying health conditions do the same. Many find their active lives are altered in ways that suddenly make them feel elderly or vulnerable; feelings they are not meant to facing yet. They miss their family and friends, grandchildren, and their independence. We miss them more than ever and will never take a hug or visit for granted.
Children learn the world isn’t perfect or free of dangers. They look worried when a person approaches their door, having already grown accustomed to isolation. Their parents wonder what effects this will have in these little humans who were born to be social and free. Yet children rise to the challenge, play in ways we’ve never seen them play before; with imagination and with siblings. They do their enormous part by staying home to stop the spread of this virus, as it disrupts their education. They power on and adapt to a new way of learning and playing, new ways of connecting and keeping in touch. We learn from our children and their overwhelming resilience.
Everyone’s life has changed. And everyone’s life and circumstances are important. I can’t name you all, but I know everyone is contributing in their own ways. Thank you, and thank you for opening my eyes again.
Suddenly everyone is important. Communicating and reaching out feels good again. We come out of the manic shadows of busy modern life with the realisation that reading, talking, and reaching out to neighbours, friends and loved ones is right, natural, comforting. We realise we can acquire knowledge from those we know. We use the Internet to actually communicate, rather than the impersonal demise of social media we’ve learned to embrace for the past ten or twenty years.
We recognise, appreciate and understand again. We trust our abilities and don’t need to read the parenting book or search Pinterest or Facebook for the answers. We know the people whom surround us are valuable, kind and caring and all possess their own knowledge and contributions. We find ways to share information. We bring humanity back into modern life.
Life has changed. We are learning to appreciate and respect everyone’s contributions, connect and love. It took a worldwide pandemic to highlight how far we have grown apart; our disconnect and solitude. We will come out of Covid-19. We fear it will be a changed world, and it will be a struggle like never before. Yet perhaps this crisis has the power of changing us for the better in many ways, IF we choose to learn and grow from it’s lessons.