Civility in the face of a pandemic

Single use gloves thrown on ground in front of local bank branch in Brampton

The past weeks have been trying for all of us. The reality of COVID-19 arriving on our shores is revealing the ugly side of humanity. Droves of people are panic buying and hoarding everything from toilet paper to pasta, with scenes of chaos and selfishness.

Compounding the confusion is the mixed messaging from our leaders and public health officials to stay home and practice social distancing, yet approving a broad definition of what is an essential business. The ongoing counts of infection rates and deaths combined with the states of emergency at different levels of government are leaving many of us in a state of perpetual stress.

Many workers are facing job losses or told to stay home with little direction on how they will pay the bills and feed their families, and for how long. Small business owners that have sunk their life savings into their businesses are having to close their doors, with little or no direction as to what lifeline governments can or will throw them.

It is a foregone conclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause untold deaths and impact world economies. As individuals we can choose to believe we have little control in the outcome of a global crisis and forget about civility. Or, we can live with a renewed appreciation for our family members and neighbours. We can strengthen our social fabric by being better citizens and supporting the efforts of all those that are doing their part to get us through this.

We are seeing daily initiatives of people and businesses stepping up in Peel Region to help those less fortunate and isolated. These heroes are as important as our health professionals, researchers, grocery store clerks, truck drivers and first responders in the gratitude we owe. Let’s not forget about teachers, professors and students of all ages trying to carry on learning over online video solutions that leave much to be desired.

We are also seeing daily examples of profiteering and bragadacious behaviour. Selling sanitizer at outrageous markups is certainly sleezy. Even worse is the websites that are using COVID-19 fears to build political databases or scam vulnerable seniors. And on our social media feeds, everyone is now a public health expert spreading meaningless if not dangerous advice and memes. The best source of information is directly from public health doctors and agencies in Canada.

If we are to get through this crisis and be better as consequence, we need to elevate our civility and social responsibility. The photo of single use gloves wrecklessly thrown on the ground in front of a local bank branch in Brampton shouldn’t be a reflection of our times. We’re better than that Brampton.