THOMPSON: There's a silver lining to the pandemic response - InfoNews

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THOMPSON: There's a silver lining to the pandemic response

April 13, 2020 - 12:00 PM



Everyone reading this shares a single fear…a single question. Will I die from Coronavirus? We don’t talk about it much. Even doctors and nurses don’t like that conversation…and they’re around that stark reality day and night. Oh, we all talk about washing hands and wearing masks and staying at safe distances…all things that make perfect sense. Yet, we’re still whistling away the dark.

We know death is the exit strategy for all of us, of course, but we mostly avoid talking about it. But we do think about dying…and anyone who says they haven’t thought about the consequences of this medical Russian Roulette isn’t being honest.

Those who served in combat…in a war…know. Everyone thinks about death when it might be imminent. That doesn’t mean you don’t rise above those dark thoughts and do what you have to. That’s what makes heroes. Sometimes being a hero simply means showing up…taking the risk by being in harm’s way. But, tragically, some heroes make it…and some don’t.

The same can be said in this war against this enemy…it’s just as deadly. Like combat losses, death from Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. Young and old, black and white, male and female. Death is the ultimate equalizer.

Most of us are going to live through this hellish experience…and perhaps it would be easier if we simply knew when it would end. Nobody likes to start a race without a finish line…it’s not something we’re used to doing.

So, we try to stay busy with whatever we can around the house. We paint the bedroom that’s needed it for five years. We groom the dog so often he’s getting dry skin. We work out in the basement (surely some must be doing that). We read. We watch every movie that talks. We drink. We watch cable news non-stop. We FaceTime and Skype and Zoom with relatives….parents, brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles…friends.

All the while, some people are working…remotely from home…or being as safe as they can be at their normal work locations if they’re “essential.” These folks - healthcare professionals and volunteers, grocery and warehouse workers and truck drivers - to name a few - are on the front lines in the battles that mark this war.

Like soldiers serving as point in a squad, platoon or company, they take the lead and are not only most likely to see action…they’re most likely to take the first hits. I like to think we’ve always had a measure of respect and admiration for nurses and doctors and other healthcare professionals. But in times like these…they are definitely heroes.

Even if we respected and admired those who work in our grocery stores, butcher and seafood shops and the warehouse workers and truckers who deliver the goods…we likely didn’t think of them as heroes. But, they are.

I don’t think we’ll have to look too far to find the silver lining in this coronavirus cloud…and there is one. It is - I hope - a new awareness…a sensitivity to both the human frailty and nobility in our fellow man…our neighbours.

And as far as thinking about death…or even talking about it…there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t fixate on it. It’s normal…it’s no less so than talking about living. If there’s a lesson here…it’s appreciating how glorious and precious life is.

And this current war - against a highly contagious virus that kills with a swiftness and in greater numbers than any threat we have faced in more than a hundred years - just might make us better humans.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.

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