One of the most powerful messages we hear repeatedly during the COVID-19 pandemic is the notion of being kind to one another.
We hear it expressed by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rob Strang and Premier Stephen McNeil in their COVID-19 updates. We’re all capable of being kind to one another. But if we aren’t intentional about it, it can fall by the wayside in situations of fear, crisis and concern.
By keeping a distance from others, wearing a mask, washing our hands and staying at home, we’re showing kindness to one another.
However, lately I’m seeing fewer and fewer demonstrations of kindness. I often watch the COVID-19 updates live on Facebook with the comments on. What’s not kind is when people post messages judging others who have potentially been exposed or labelling an entire generation as irresponsible and dangerous. Of course we should all follow Dr. Strang’s advice and limit our activities and trips between zones in the province. But we shouldn’t make assumptions about the intentions of others.
We’re all fearful of this virus and how it could affect our families and those around us. When we live in fear, our defenses are escalated and we try to rationalize how we do things to exempt our own behaviour. By making sweeping generalizations, judging and “othering” people out of fear, we aren’t living in kindness, we’re living in fear.
I think it’s important to remember that new COVID-19 cases are the result of activity that happened two weeks ago. Most people are doing their best to follow public health rules as they understand them and to keep themselves and others safe. As the rules change, we need to adapt with them, and not judge our friends and neighbours for activities they’ve done in the past.
Working in health care is difficult right now. The general tone in the past few weeks has become more negative and critical. We’re all feeling tired, frustrated, detached and disconnected.
Let’s not add to each other’s worries as we try to navigate these very challenging times. If you have a neighbour isolating as they wait for a test, consider picking them up some essentials, rather than judging their actions and blaming them.
Be kind and remember that most people are doing their best. We want to have caring relationships intact when we come out the other side of this pandemic.
Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie
President of Doctors Nova Scotia